Guatemala Guatemala Resources
Many in the world have Hispanic ancestors and the goal of most genealogists with Hispanic ancestry is to trace their immigrant back to Guatemala. This can be a daunting task but not impossible. Hispanic research is very rewarding and to help you get started there are a few resources you should be aware of to help guide you on your way.
It is not necessary that you be fluent in Spanish in order to have success in your research. You do however have to take the time learn about the genealogical process. A basic knowledge of the history and geography of Guatemala will also prove useful. Learning to recognize key Spanish genealogical words and phrases will also serve you well as you begin your genealogical adventure. The following resources will be of assistance to you as you begin your journey in Hispanic research.
If you are brand new to family history research, it would be advisable to start with a free online introductory class from BYU Independent Study. FamilySearch Wiki: Patterned after Wikipedia this online library is community based where everyone can share something to assist in genealogical research. There are many articles on basic genealogical research and several that are specific to research in Guatemala.
Brigham Young University research outline for Guatemala available in PDF form is a collection of articles and useful resources for those conducting genealogical research in Guatemala.
You may want to consider the following book that has been designed for both beginning and intermediate researchers in all Hispanic countries. Finding Your Hispanic Roots by George R. Ryskamp (Baltimore: MD, 1997), FHL INTL Book 946 D27r.
Deciphering the records is crucial to having success in Hispanic research. The following resources will help you to read your document and translate it correctly.
The Spanish Genealogical Word List contains a list of many of the most common words you might find in Spanish records. If you don’t find the word you’re looking for in the word list, you should consult a Spanish-English dictionary. Cassell's Spanish-English, English-Spanish Dictionary. New York: Macmillan Publishers, 1978. (FHL book 463.21 C272c 1978.)
Websites like Google Translate are also good sources for translating records from Spanish to English. Please beware that any word for word translation prepared by a computer program is likely to have some errors!
Reading Spanish handwriting can be a challenge for a beginner but with practice your speed and ability to read the records will improve. The following resources will provide you with instruction and tips to help you read Spanish handwritten records.
Reading Spanish Handwritten Records is a series of three classes you can view online. In lesson 1 you will learn about the Spanish alphabet. In lesson 2 you learn to recognize names, key words, and dates. In lesson 3 you will explore reading various types of Spanish records.
The Script Tutorial website sponsored by the Center for Family History and Genealogy at Brigham Young University contains exercise, samples, abbreviations, and lists of names and surnames to guide you as you learn to read Spanish handwriting.
Need extra help?
If you get stuck and can’t read a document or you’re not sure where to go next in your research, you can ask for help through these resources.
Hispanic Genealogy Research community on Facebook is a page sponsored by FamilySearch and here you may also post a question or upload an image of a document for further assistance. The Hispanic Genealogy Research page is designed especially for those who have Hispanic ancestry but may not be fluent in Spanish. Be sure to click like on the page on your first visit so you can receive information and updates from the page in your news feed.
Investigación Genealógica en Guatemala is another FamilySearch research community page on Facebook where you can post questions and upload images of documents. The majority of the posts on this page are in Spanish but you are welcome to post on the page in English. Be sure to click like on the page on your first visit so you can receive information and updates from the page in your news feed.
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