Puerto Rico Catholic Church Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Puerto Rico

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Puerto Rico, Catholic Church Records, 1645-1969 .
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Puerto Rico
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Record Description
Record Type: Church
Collection years: 1645-1969
Languages: Spanish Genealogical Word List
Title in the Language: Puerto Rico, Registros de la Iglesia Católica
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What is in This Collection?

This collection includes records of Catholic Church baptisms, confirmations, marriages, and burials for the years 1645-1969. Indexes were created in several church parishes of Puerto Rico.

At the time of the creation of the records in this collection, the Catholic Church in Puerto Rico was divided into several dioceses, including the Diocese of Puerto Rico, which was erected in 1511. The diocese's name was changed in 1924 to the Diocese of San Juan de Puerto Rico. In 1960, the diocese was elevated to archdiocese with the name of Archdiocese of San Juan of Puerto Rico. Other dioceses listed in this record’s collection are the Diocese of Ponce (erected in 1924), the Diocese of Arecibo (erected in 1960), and the Diocese of Caguas (erected in 1964). Since the time period of this collection, two more dioceses have been erected: the Diocese of Mayaguez (erected in 1976) and the Diocese of Fajardo-Humacao (erected in 2008).

Catholic Church records of Puerto Rico are a reliable source for genealogical research. For research after the civil registration implementation in 1885, it is suggested to research both civil and church records and to compare the information.

These were handwritten in Spanish by the priest in charge of the jurisdiction where the event took place. Most of the records are written in narrative style. Depending on the priest, some records have more information than others. These records are written in Spanish; also see the section For Help Reading These Records for translation helps.

To Browse This Collection

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Puerto Rico, Catholic Church Records, 1645-1969.

What Can These Records Tell Me?

Baptismal records usually contain the following information:

  • Date and place of baptism
  • Child's name and gender
  • Child's legitimacy
  • Child's date and place of birth
  • Parents' names, their origin and residence
  • Names of paternal grandparents
  • Names of maternal grandparents
  • Names of godparents
  • Future marriage information may be found in the margin(s)

Confirmation registers may contain the following:

  • Name of confirmed
  • Date of confirmation
  • Place of confirmation
  • Names of parents
  • Names of godparent(s)

Marriage records usually contain the following information:

  • Date and place of marriage
  • Groom's name, age, marital status and origin
  • Names of groom's parents
  • Bride's name, age, marital status and origin
  • Names of bride's parents
  • Names of witnesses

Death/burial records usually contain the following information:

  • Name, age and gender of deceased
  • Date and place of death
  • Parents' names and their origin and residence
  • Sometimes, name of spouse, if married
  • Sometimes, burial information

Collection Content

Sample Images

How Do I Search This Collection?

Before using this collection it is helpful to know:

  • Your ancestor's given name and surname
  • Identifying information such as residence
  • Estimated marriage or birth year

View the Images

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page.

  1. Select Municipality
  2. Select Parish
  3. Select Record Type and Years to view the images.

For Help Reading These Records

These records are in Spanish. For help reading the records, see the following wiki articles:

How Do I Analyze the Results?

Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images. Keep track of your research in a research log.

What Do I Do Next?

To learn more about using the information available in these records, view these lessons for free:

I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?

  • Use the marriage date and place as the basis for compiling a new family group or for verifying existing information
  • Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth of each partner to find a couple's birth records and parents' names
  • Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth to find the family in census records and establish a migration pattern. This link describes the Puerto Rico Census
  • Use the residence and names of the parents to locate civil records. This link takes you to the online records of Puerto Rico, Civil Registration (FamilySearch Historical Records)
  • Compile the marriage entries for every person who has the same surname as the bride or groom; this is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual
  • Regarding marriage and death records, name changes, shortened names, or nicknames may have been used by your ancestors, so pay attention to other relationships (parents, spouse, siblings, children, etc.) that can confirm whether you have the right person/record
  • Continue to search the marriage records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives of the bride and groom who may have married in the same county or nearby. This can help you identify other generations of your family or even the second marriage of a parent. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify
  • Use the marital status to identify previous marriages (whether a divorce or death dissolved a marriage)
  • Witnesses often were relatives of the parents

I Can’t Find the Person I’m Looking For, What Now?

Add advice about alternate records, search methods, locations, etc. For example:

  • Check for variants of given names and surnames. It was not uncommon for an individual to be listed under a nickname, middle name, or abbreviation of their given name
  • Search the records of nearby locations. In the period of this collection, few individuals ever lived more than 20 miles from their place pf birth, though smaller moves were common

A boundary change could have occurred and the record of your ancestor is now in a neighboring state or region, or your ancestor immigrated to another country. Search the records of nearby areas or immigration/emigration records.

Civil records are also a good substitute when baptism, marriage, and death/burial records can’t be found or are unavailable.

Known Issues with This Collection

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See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached Wiki article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to support@familysearch.org. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.


Citing This Collection

Citations help you keep track of places you have searched and sources you have found. Identifying your sources helps others find the records you used.

Collection Citation

"Puerto Rico, Catholic Church Records, 1645-1969." Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2017. Citing Archivos Arquidiócesis, San Juan, Puerto Rico [Archdiocesan Archives of San Juan].

Image Citation:
When looking at an image, the citation is found on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen.

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How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.