Petén Department, Guatemala Genealogy
|Guatemala Wiki Topics|
|Local Research Resources|
Guide to Department of Petén ancestry, family history and genealogy: birth records, marriage records, death records, church records, parish registers, and civil registration.
- After the Spanish conquerors arrived, the Itza began to use Petén as a defensive redoubt.
- After the conquest, a military garrison called Nuestra Señora de los Remedios and San Pablo del Itza was built on the ruins of Tayasal.
- In 1825, Petén was one of the original dependent districts of the State of Guatemala and was in the Department of Verapaz, whose head was Cobán, and included the municipalities of Cobán, Cahabón, Tactic, Salamá and Rabinal, as well as the district of Petén.
- After September 12, 1839, the State of Los Altos was separated, resulting in the reorganization of the State of Guatemala into seven departments and two independent districts. Petén was included as one of the two districts.
- In the month of July of 1847 the War of Castes between the Mayan natives of the south and of Yucatan began – at that time it was an independent nation and the population of whites (Creoles and mestizos), had been established in the western portion part of the Yucatan Peninsula.
- Petén was elevated to department status on May 8, 1866.
- The Department of Petén has a population of approximately 367,000 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, Petén, Civil Registration, 1877-1994
- 1877-1994 - Guatemala, Petén, Civil Registration, 1877-1994. Additional towns.
- 1581-1977 - Petén, Guatemala, Catholic Church Records, 1581-1977
Additional online records may be listed in the Family History Library Catalog for places within Guatemala, Petén.
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, "Petén," In Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pet%C3%A9n. Visited 23 August 2017.