Panama, Panama Genealogy

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Guide to Province of Panama family history and genealogy: birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, family history, and military records.

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History[edit | edit source]

When Panama was colonized, the indigenous peoples fled into the forest and nearby islands. It is believed that infectious disease was the primary cause of the population decline of the natives. The indigenous peoples had no acquired immunity to diseases which had been chronic in Eurasian populations for centuries.

Panama was under Spanish rule for almost 300 years from 1538 to 1821, and became part of the Viceroyalty of Peru, along with all other Spanish possessions in South America. Spanish authorities had little control over much of the territory of Panama. Large sections managed to resist conquest and missionization until very late in the colonial era.

As the Spanish American wars of independence were heating up all across Latin America, Panama City was preparing for independence and an act called the Cry From the Town of Saints, issued on November 10, 1821, by the residents of Azuero without backing from Panama City to declare their separation from the Spanish Empire.
When the Senate of Colombia rejected the Hay–Herrán Treaty on January 22, 1903, the United States decided to support and encourage the Panamanian separatist movement.

In November 1903 Panama proclaimed its independence and concluded the Hay–Bunau-Varilla Treaty with the United States. The treaty granted rights to the United States as if it were sovereign. In that zone, the U.S. would build a canal, then administer, fortify, and defend it in perpetuity.

Districts in Panamá Province[edit | edit source]

San MiguelitoPanamáTabogaTabogaBalboaBalboaBalboaChimánChepoPanamá Province Map.png

How to Find Birth, Marriage, and Death Records in Panamá[edit | edit source]

Most of your genealogical research for Panama will be in two main record types: civil registration and church records. This article will teach you methods for locating and searching these two record groups.

Background Information[edit | edit source]

See Panamá Province, Wikipedia.

1. Writing for Civil Registration[edit | edit source]

Civil registration of births, marriages, and deaths began in 1914. Civil registration in Panama officially began on April 15, 1914. At that time, the mayors of districts and villages recorded daily the births, marriages, and deaths occurring within their jurisdiction. In 1974, Civil Registry offices were created within each provincial capital.

Ordering Certificates from Panama[edit | edit source]

However, birth, marriage, and death certificates can be requested from overseas by sending a written request and payment ($9) to cover postage and handling.

Send request to:

Tribunal Electoral de Panama, Registro Civil
Apartado 0816-01504
Panama, Republica de Panama

Telephone: (507) 504-6253

The following information should be included (as much as possible):

  • Birth record - Complete name, date of birth, place of birth, name of parents and national ID (cedula)
  • Marriage record - Complete name of the bride and groom, date of marriage, place, and the national IDs of the bride and groom
  • Death record - Complete name of the deceased, place of death and general information about the person's birth

Ordering Certificates from the U.S. Department of State[edit | edit source]

2. Church Records Online[edit | edit source]

3. Microfilm Copies of Church Records in the FamilySearch Catalog[edit | edit source]

If the locality and time period you need are not included in the online records, the next step is to find them in the microfilm collection of the Family History Library. Currently, these microfilms are being digitized, and plans are to complete that project by 2020. Check back occasionally to see if your records have become available. In the meantime, some of them might be available at a Family History Center near you.
To find a microfilm:

a. Click on this link to see a list of records for Panama, Panamá .
b. Click on "Places within Panama, Panamá " and a list of towns and cities will open.
c. Click on the town or city you wish to search.
d. Click on "Church records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
e. Choose the correct event and time period for your ancestor.
f. 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.

4. Writing for Church Records[edit | edit source]

The population of Panama is predominantly Christian: 86% are Catholics and 10% are Protestants. There are about 1% Jews and Muslims.

Catholic Church[edit | edit source]

Baptism, marriage, and death records may be searched by contacting a local parish in Panama. Write your request in Spanish whenever possible. Use this address as a guide for addressing your request, replacing the information in parentheses with specifics:

Reverendo Padre
Parroquia de (name of parish, town name if you don't know the exact name)
(postal code), (city)

When requesting information, send the following:

  • Money for the search fee, usually $10.00
  • Full name and the sex of the ancestor sought
  • Names of the ancestor’s parents, if known
  • Approximate date and place of the event
  • Your relationship to the ancestor
  • Reason for the request (family history, medical, and so on)
  • Request for a photocopy of the complete original record

Episcopal/Anglican Church[edit | edit source]

Other Protestant Churches[edit | edit source]

How to Write the Letter[edit | edit source]

Write your request in Spanish whenever possible. For writing your letter in Spanish, use the translated questions and phrases in this Spanish Letter-writing Guide.

Reading the Records[edit | edit source]

  • Online Learning Center class on reading Spanish handwriting:

Search Strategy[edit | edit source]

  • Search for the relative or ancestor you selected. When you find his birth record, 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.
  • 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.