Improve your Search Results for Hispanic Ancestors in

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South America

The following tips and techniques will help you improve your search results in the historical records collections of FamilySearch.

Historical Record Collections[edit | edit source]

The historical record collections of FamilySearch are the best in the world for seeking Hispanic ancestors.

  • More than 1600 collections
  • Over 3.5 billion records from around the world

Search for an Individual[edit | edit source]

  1. Go to and click on Search
  2. Enter a first name and a last name. Even though Hispanics use two surnames, try your searches only with the first surname or the paternal surname because most of the indexed records have only one surname. (For more information, see this article)
  3. Use the option to Restrict records by location if your ancestor only ever lived in one country.
  4. In order to add a specific place you need to Search with a life event. Your best option is Any. Using Any will give you a lot of results and you won’t miss any by narrowing your options to only Births, Marriages, or Deaths. LESS IS MORE!!
  5. Click on Search

Note: The only names that will be searched are those already indexed. Many records are not indexed yet so if you don’t find anything, try browsing images online. This will require you to know the location where an event took place and an approximate year when the event took place.

Search with a relationship[edit | edit source]

  • Spouse
  • Parents
  • If you don’t get the desired results using first and last names:
    • Try searching using only last names.
    • Try leaving out the child’s name.
    • Try searching for the person as an individual, spouse, and/or parent.
  • Because of the Spanish double surname system, try doing a parent search with just the first last names of each parent.

Application of filters[edit | edit source]

You can filter your results in indexed records by:

  • Record type
  • Year and/or place of birth
  • Year and/or place of marriage
  • Year and/or place of death
  • Year and/or place of residence

To apply a filter click on the arrow next to the filter you wish to use.

Place[edit | edit source]

  • Choose the geographic region where the event took place.
  • Click on the small arrow next to the geographic region and choose the country.
  • Click on the small arrow next to the country and choose the state, province, or department. Keep filtering until you get to the place you are searching.

Year[edit | edit source]

  • Click on the small arrow next to the event year you wish you filter for. Choose the century when the event you are searching for took place.
  • To narrow the search further, click again on the small arrow next to the century and choose the decade in which the event might have taken place.

Collection[edit | edit source]

  • Click on the small arrow next to the word Collections. Choose the record type you wish.
  • You can continue to apply further filters by clicking on the small arrow next to the record type and choosing the specific collection you wish to see.

Helpful hints for searching indexed records[edit | edit source]

  • Less is more
  • By clicking on the small box next to names and/or places you will limit your search to include only those that contain those exact names or places. This limits your results but may be helpful when searching for *You can use wild card characters to substitute for a letter or group of letters that may be spelled in a variety of ways. For example: You might use Jul* to look for anyone whose name begins with those three letters. Your results might include Julio, Julian, Julios, etc.
  • If you don’t find the person you are seeking try spelling variations of the first and/or the last name.
  • Although most Hispanic use a double surname, normally the records are only indexed with the first or paternal surname. Try searching using only the paternal surname.

Other search options[edit | edit source]

  • International Genealogical Index – Prefer the collection Community Indexed. These are from extracted records and not submitted pedigrees.
  • Batch Number – when you are in a batch or know the batch number
  • Film Number – to search by location to see what might have been extracted
    • Search by surname within batches or film numbers

Browsing images[edit | edit source]

  1. Go to and click on Search
  2. Under the section Browse by Location choose the geographic location where your ancestor’s event took place.
  3. Choose the country.
  4. Choose the record collection you wish to search.
  5. Click on the words Browse through . . . images
  6. Choose the province, region or department.
  7. Next choose the city or town.
  8. If you were looking for Catholic Church records, your next step would be to choose the parish.
  9. Next choose the type of records you wish to browse. Use the arrows to advance the images. You may also advance the images by entering a number in the box next to the word Image.
  10. Be sure to keep good notes on which records you have searched by recording your searches on a log or research calendar.

Records not online yet? Try the catalog.[edit | edit source]

  • In the Catalog/frameset_fhlc.asp Classic Catalog begin with a larger jurisdiction and use View Related Places to find the correct spelling of smaller jurisdictions
  • Try Keyword searches when looking for specific record types AND in a specific location

Compiled records[edit | edit source]

Learning center[edit | edit source]

  • Research Wiki – Congratulations on finding it!
    • An encyclopedia of knowledge for researchers.
    • Written by the community for the community.
    • Links to and descriptions of record collections
  • Research Courses
    • Hundreds of online genealogy courses to help you discover your family history.