Izabal Department, Guatemala Genealogy
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|Local Research Resources|
Guide to Department of Izabal ancestry, family history and genealogy: birth records, marriage records, death records, church records, parish registers, and civil registration.
- The Mercedarians were present in Amatique in the middle of the sixteenth century when the Dominicans established their control in Xocolo on the shore of Lake Izabal.
- After Central America became independent, Izabal became a district of the Department of Verapaz of the State of Guatemala, which was founded in 1825.
- On the Caribbean Sea, specifically in Livingston and part of Puerto Barrios, was spoken Caribbean-Araguaco or Garífuna, whose inhabitants were the result of crossbreeding of three ethnic groups: the Caribe Indians (natives of those islands), the araguacos native to South America and the blacks, who were from Africa.
- The Belgians realized the riches that the Izabal region possessed, and several settlers decided to settle in Santo Tomas de Castilla to build infrastructure in the region. They had obtained permission from the government of Guatemala in 1848 in exchange for several concessions when the first 76 settlers arrived. But, the conditions of the area were inhospitable and began to quickly diminish the health of the Belgians. By 1850, the colony had already failed, promised infrastructure works had not been built, and Belgian settlers had dispersed into the Republic of Guatemala.
- On May 8, 1866, the government of Marshal Vicente Cerna y Cerna elevated Izabal to the category of department.
- The Department of Izabal has a population of approximately 414,000 people. 
Civil Registration and Church Records
Most of the research you will do will be in these two records.
- 1877-2008 - Guatemala Civil Registration, 1877-2008 at FamilySearch — index and images
- 1877-1994 - Guatemala, Izabal, Civil Registration, 1877-1994
- 1877-1994 - Guatemala, Izabal, Civil Registration, 1877-1994. Additional towns.
- 1581-1977 - Izabal, Guatemala, Catholic Church Records, 1581-1977
Additional online records may be listed in the Family History Library Catalog for places within Guatemala, Izabal.
Reading the Records
- You do not have to be fluent in Spanish to read your documents. Genealogical records usually contain a limited vocabulary. Use this Spanish Genealogical Word List to translate the important points in the document. Handwriting skills are taught in BYU Spanish Script Tutorial.
- Online interactive slideshow lessons are available to help you learn to read these records:
- Detailed instructions for reading Spanish records, examples of common documents, and practice exercises for developing skills in translating them can be found in the Spanish Records Extraction Manual.
- The Spanish Documents Script Tutorial also provides lessons and examples.
Building a Family Record with a Search Strategy
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.
- Wikipedia Collaborators, "Izabal," In Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Izabal. Visited 10 August 2017.