San Juan, Dominican Republic Genealogy

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San Juan Province

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

Province of San Juan

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Most of your genealogical research for the Dominican Republic 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.

History

In 1503 Nicolás de Ovando founded the city of San Juan de Maguana, in honor of San Juan Bautista, and in 1508 he was granted by royal decree the title of town with his coat of arms.
In 1605, following the changes in population and devastation faced by the governor of Santo Domingo, the inhabitants of San Juan moved to occupy Bayaguana, along with the rest of the Spanish uprooted from the unpopulated areas.
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Background

Civil Registration

In 1804, the Dominican Republic began the practice of civil registration, creating the offices of the civil state (oficialías del estado civil) in charge of registering the events of birth, marriage, and death in the life of its citizens. However, only some civil registration books dating back to 1823 have been found. It wasn’t until June of 1944 that the National Congress provided new regulations for civil registration. Each civil registrar (Oficial del Estado Civil) is required to keep a duplicate registry of the original records of birth, marriage, divorce, and death. At the end of each year, the original registry, together with its corresponding index book, is sent to the Central Office of the Civil State. These civil registrations allow people to be identified as citizens and therefore able to receive governmental benefits in the future.

  • You will need to know the town where your family lived and to which municipio the town belonged. This gazetteer will help you find the municipio and province for your town.

1. Online Digital Records for Civil Registration

For many localities, digital copies of civil registration can be searched online:

"Nascimientos" are births. Matrimonios are marriages. "Defunciones" are deaths.

2. Microfilm Copies of Civil Registration Records in the FamilySearch Catalog

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, they 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 Dominican Republic, San Juan.
b. Click on "Places within Dominican Republic, San Juan" and a list of towns and cities will open.
c. Click on the town or city you wish to search.
d. Click on "Civil Registration" 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.

3. Writing for Civil Registration Certificates

If the records are not online, and you do not have ready access to the microfilms, civil registration records in Mexico can be obtained by writing to the local civil registry in the municipality. This is particularly true for more recent records, which are covered by privacy laws. Relatives are allowed to request recent records for genealogy purposes. Civil officials will generally answer correspondence in Spanish. Your request may be forwarded if the records have been sent to state archives. This method is not always reliable. Officials might or might not respond.

  • Write a brief request in Spanish to the proper office using this address as a guide, replacing the information in parentheses:
Oficino del Registro Civil
(postal code), (city), San Juan
Dominican Republic

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


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.

Church Records

The majority of Dominicans were Catholic and were registered in entries for baptisms, marriages, deaths, and burials in the local church records. Often two and sometimes three generations are indicated in the registers, with personal information on the family.

1. Online Digital Records for Church Records

For many localities, digital copies of Catholic church records can be searched online:

2. Microfilm Copies of Church Records in the FamilySearch Catalog

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, they 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 Dominican Republic, San Juan.
b. Click on "Places within Dominican Republic, San Juan" 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. 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.

3. Writing to a Catholic Priest for Church Records

Baptism, marriage, and death records may be searched by contacting or visiting local parish or diocese archives. Write your request in Spanish whenever possible. This method is not always reliable. Officials might or might not respond.

Write a brief request in Spanish to the proper church using this address as guide replacing the information in parentheses:

Reverendo Padre
Parroquia de (name of parish)
(postal code), (city), San Juan
Dominican Republic


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


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

  • Online interactive slideshow lessons are available to help you learn to read these records:




Search Strategies

To effectively use civil and church records, follow these steps:

  1. Search for the relative or ancestor you have selected. When you find the person’s birth record, search for the births of his or her brothers and sisters.
  2. Search for the marriage of his or her parents. The marriage record will often give you information that leads to the parents’ birth record.
  3. Estimate the parents’ age and search for their birth records.
  4. Repeat the process for both the father and mother.
  5. If earlier generations are not in the record, search neighboring municipios.
  6. Search the death records for all family members.