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Guatemala Church Records

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For information about records for non-Christian religions in Guatemala, go to the Religious Records page.

Definition[edit | edit source]

Church records (registros parroquiales) are excellent sources for accurate information on names, dates, and places of births, marriages, and deaths. They are often referred to as parish registers or church books. They include records of christenings, sometimes including a birth date; marriages; deaths; and burials. Church records may also include account books, confirmation records, and lists of members (padrones).

Time Coverage[edit | edit source]

Church records were kept from the mid-1500's to the present. Civil registration began in 1877, after which time you can use both record sources to support each other.

Information Contained in Church Records[edit | edit source]

Baptismal Records[edit | edit source]

Names, surnames; dates and places of birth; date of baptism; names and surnames of parents, grandparents and godparents; sometimes race.

Marriage Records[edit | edit source]

Names and surnames of both groom and bride with dates and places of birth; residence, publication of admonitions or marriage bands, names and surnames of parents and witnesses; some times race and information of previous marriages.

Marriage Information[edit | edit source]

The marriage information document can consist of several parts. This document is sometimes three or four pages long. It  includes an introduction that states the intent of marriage and sometimes the date of the banns. The marriage banns were announced on three separate occasions. These announcements, gave opportunity for anyone to come forward who knew any reasons why the couple should not be married.

The marriage information will then include personal information on the bride and groom. They may include the following:

  • name of bride/groom
  • age
  • whether they are single or widowed
  • place of residence
  • sometimes place of birth
  • parents’ names
  • sometimes grandparents’ names

If this is a second marriage for one of them, it will give the name of the deceased spouse and how long he or she had been deceased. If the bride or groom was from another parish, documents will be enclosed showing good standing in that parish. These documents can include baptismal records and references to banns that were publish in another parish.

The records may also show a dispensation (exemption from restriction of marriage) for the fourth degree of blood relationship, indicating that bride and groom were related. If this is the case genealogical graphs and interesting biographical information about the families involved will be included. This will sometimes give you a line of ascent up to the common progenitors.

Two to four witnesses were then listed who testify of the good standing of the bride and groom. This may include the witnesses’ age, occupation, and residence as well as how long they have known the bride or groom. The witnesses may be related to the bride or groom.

Generally there is a last note stating the date of marriage or if they did not get married.

Death or Burial Records[edit | edit source]

Name and surname of deceased; date of death and place of burial; sometimes date and place of birth; name and surname of parents or spouse, other family.

Confirmation Records[edit | edit source]

Name, age; name and surname of parents; date and place of confirmation.

Extract Forms[edit | edit source]

The following extract forms were created by Dr. George Ryskamp, JD, AG. These particular forms are designed to be used for Spanish research; however, they can help in other research areas, such as Italy, France, Portugal, etc. Click on the type of record form you would like to use and print it for your own files.

Birth/Baptism Extract Form

Marriage Extract Form

Death/Burial Extract Form

These forms are designed to help you quickly analyze and organize your documents. They can become a personal index for your family records.

Locating Church Records[edit | edit source]

Local parishes and ecclesiastical archives: (some in microfilm in the Family History Library); some in the General Archive of Central America, and some in the Archive of the Archbishop, both in the City of Guatemala.

Online Church Records[edit | edit source]

'FamilySearch

Ancestry.com

MyHeritage

FamilySearch Historical Records[edit | edit source]

Parishes in Guatemala list and links to church records in the parishes.

FamilySearch Library[edit | edit source]

a. Click on this link to see a list of "Places within Guatemala" and a list of provinces will open.
b. Click on "Places within...." for the department list
c. Click on the department you want.
d. Click on the town or city you wish to search.
e. Click on "Church records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
f. Choose the correct event and time period for your ancestor. "Bautismos" are baptisms. Matrimônios are marriages. Bautismos 1929-1932. "Confirmaciones" are confirmations. "Defunciones" are deaths. "Información matrimonial" are marriage information records. "Índice" is the index.
g. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the microfilm listed for the record. FHL icons.png. The magnifying glass indicates that the microfilm is indexed. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the microfilm.

Reading the Records[edit | edit source]

  • Online interactive slideshow lessons are available to help you learn to read these records:


Building a Family Record with a Search Strategy[edit | edit source]

Many articles on strategy are available on the Wiki, but here is a simple set of steps to guide you

  • Search for the relative or ancestor you selected. When you find his birth/baptism/christening record, then search for the births of his brothers and sisters.
  • Next, search for the marriage of his parents. The marriage record will have information that will often help you find the birth records of the parents, and even the names of their parents.
  • You can estimate the ages of the parents and determine a birth year to search for their birth records.
  • Search the death registers for all known family members.
  • Repeat this process for both the father and the mother, starting with their birth records, then their siblings' births, then their parents' marriages, and so on.
  • If earlier generations (parents, grandparents, etc.) do not appear in the records, search neighboring parishes.