Spain Church Records
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For information about records for non-Christian religions in Spain, go to the Religious Records page.
- 1 Catholic Church Records
- 2 Time Coverage
- 3 Information Content
- 4 Locating Diocesan and Parish Records
Catholic Church Records
Catholicism's roots extend deep into Spain's history. Parish and diocesan records created by the Catholic Church in Spain have long been considered some of the richest genealogical records in the world. The Catholic Church has created several different records. The most used in genealogical research include: baptisms (bautizos, bautismos), marriages (matrimonios), and burials (entierros, defunciones, fallecimientos). Other records include: confirmations (confimaciones), pre-marriage investigations (expedientes matrimoniales, información matrimonial). The vast majority of Spaniards are Catholic and so almost every Spaniard can be found in the records of the Catholic Church.
- Ever since the Council of Trent, 1545 and 1563, Catholic parish records have been consistently recorded, usually providing three generations in a single baptismal entry.
- The Catholic Church was the primary record keeper of births, marriages, and deaths, until civil registration started in 1869.
- Some church records have been lost or have deteriorated due natural disasters such as fire, flood, and earthquakes. Civil and political strife has also caused record loss, including during time of the Spanish Civil War.
Tip: If you are researching after 1869 when Civil Registration started in Spain both church and civil records should be searched since there may be information in one record that does not appear in the other.
Parish records are the most common Church record used in family history and genealogical research. Spanish Catholic parish records were recorded by local parish priests, however, most of the records (older than 100 years) have been centralized into the diocesan archive to which the parish belongs. Parish records include the following:
To learn more about each type of record, click on the name of the record type to be led to another article about that record type.
Baptism records usually contain the following information:
- Infant’s place and date of baptism
- Age at time of baptism, usually given in days, which helps determine the birth date.
- Child’s names
- Status of legitimacy
- Parents’ names and possibly their birth places and places of residence
- Godparents’ names and possibly their places of residence
- You might also find the names of grandparents
These are sometimes recorded in the parish baptism book, but sometimes they are recorded in their own book(s). Information found regularly in confirmation records includes the following:
- Name of the parish
- Name of individual being confirmed along with the godparents
- Sometimes parents are named, but not always.
Marriage blessings (velaciones) are sometimes are found separately. Marriage records usually contain the following information:
- Names, ages, occupations, and residences of the bride and groom
- Date and place of marriage
- Marital status, including if one or both were previously widowed and the name of the deceased spouse.
- Parental permission, if they were minors
- Names of witnesses
- May include birth place or residence of parents and grandparents, the dates the marriage banns were announced and whether or not there was an impediment to the marriage.
Death/Burial records usually contain the following information
- Deceased person’s name
- Date and place of burial and/or death
- Place of residence
- Marital status
- Cause of death
- In most death records the women are recorded by their maiden names
- Name of surviving spouse
- Occasionally, it is noted if the person had a will
- If a minor, the date and place of birth and parents’ names are given.
Spain is divided into 70 dioceses. Each dioceses is divided into many parishes. Dioceses created several different types of records. These records can be searched in diocesan archives throughout Spain. Some diocesan records have been microfilmed and are available through the Family History Library (FHL). Perform a Place Search in the FamilySearch Catalog for the dioceses where your ancestor lived. Diocesan records include:
- Administrative and Financial
- Disciplinary and Judicial
- Marriage Dispensations and Pre-marriage Investigations
- Pastoral Visits and Confirmations
Locating Diocesan and Parish Records
Spain Archives Online
The following archives have placed either indexes or images online.
- Archivo Histórico Diocesano de San Sebastián (Guipúzcoa)
- Archivo Histórico Diocesano de Álava (Vitoria)
- Archivo Histórico Eclesiástico de Vizcaya (Bilbao) To search all three provinces at once visit the website Dokuklik and click on the words Registros sacramentales to use the search engine.
- Archivo Histórico Archidiocesano de Tarragona Requires a free subscription. To learn more about how to navigate the site see Archdiocese of Tarragona Online Parish Records.
- Archivo Diocesano de Valencia Requires a free subscription. These are only indexed records. You can then order them from the Archive for a fee. This page is found only in Spanish and Valencian.
- Archivo Diocesano de Pamplona(Email Only) Contact information for the dioceses archive in the region of Navarra. You will need to send an email to them in Spanish and give them as much detail as possible. You will have to pay a small fee for each record plus shipping.
- Archivo Histórico Diocesano de Madrid Click on the parish or area you are interested in under Fondos del Archivo Histórico Diocesano de Madrid. The list will expand. Then continue to click on what you need until you get to the images. Not all records are available yet. Using a book with indexes, locate your ancestor and order a copy of the record. Actual records are not fully viewable on the site.
FamilySearch Historical Records
FamilySearch Historical Records has the following collections (current as of 30 April 2018):
- 1500-1930 - Spain, Catholic Church Records, 1500-1930 at FamilySearch - images only.
- 1502-1940 - Spain, Baptisms 1502-1940 at FamilySearch — index
- 1600-1920 - Spain Deaths, 1600-1920 at FamilySearch - index
- 1565-1950 - Spain Marriages, 1565-1950 at FamilySearch - index
- 1556-1899 - Spain, Granada Catholic Pre-Marriage Investigation Files, Index, 1556-1899 FamilySearch - index
- 1504-1979 - Spain, Diocese of Albacete, Catholic Church Records, 1504-1979 - index and images
- 1502-1975 - Spain, Diocese of Ávila, Catholic Church Records, 1502-1975 - index and images
- 1503-1969 - Spain, Diocese of Cartagena, Catholic Church Records, 1503-1969 at FamilySearch — index and images
- 1556-1899 - Spain, Province of Granada, Catholic Pre-Marriage Investigation Files, 1556-1899 at FamilySearch — index and images
- 1550-1966 - Spain, Diocese of Lugo Catholic Parish Records 1550-1966 at FamilySearch — index
- 1538-1985 - Spain, Diocese of Santander, Catholic Church Records, 1538-1985 at FamilySearch — index and images
- 1533-1987 - Spain, Diocese of Segovia, Catholic Church Records, 1533-1987 at FamilySearch — images only.
- 1565-2013 - Spain, Province of Teruel, Catholic Church Records, 1565-2013 at FamilySearch — images only.
Several parish records have been microfilmed and are currently being digitized. Eventually, all of them will be digitized, so check back frequently.
- Click on this link for the Spain FamilySearch Catalog.
- A list "Places within Spain" will open. Click on the appropriate province.
- Open the list of places within the province. Select your town.
- A list of record categories will open up. Click on "Church records".
- A list of available records will appear. Click on the record title you are interested in searching.
- Scroll down to the list of microfilm numbers. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the microfilm listed for the record. . 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.
Writing for Records
- This can be done either through letter correspondence or sometimes email (or researching in person).
- Please see the Spain Catholic Church Directories article for more contact information for dioceses and parishes.
- You can find diocesan websites at: Conferencia Episcopal Diocesis please visit the site to determine if you can make an email request.
- Another site with good information on the archives of Spain (both ecclesiastical and government) is the (Censo-Guía de Archivos de España e Iberoamérica. While it is only available in Spanish, it can provide detailed information on the collections and documents within an archive and allows you to narrow your search down to specific archives.
- Use the Spanish Letter Writing Guide for help writing your letter in Spanish.