Bolivia Finding Records
To find church, civil or other records for you ancestor in Bolivia using the FamilySearch catalog, you will need to know the various levels of jurisdictions (government or religious administrative divisions) in Bolivia. Only three locality levels are normally used. The country of Bolivia is divided into departments (departamentos), municipalities (municipios), and cities, towns, villages, etc.
Under the municipality level you will find civil registration records. In large cities there may be several offices. Some small towns may not be their own municipality and therefore their records will not be kept in the town. You will need to determine the correct municipality or municipio in order to locate the civil regitration records. Civil registration for Bolivia is not available from FamilySearch. You will need to Google the Civil Registration Office in Bolivia in order to order the Civil Registration records.
Church records are listed in the FamilySearch catalog under the city or town where the parish is located. A parish is an ecclesiastical jurisdiction where a Catholic priest serves and keeps records. The parish is usually named for a Saint and is located in the largest town in the parish jurisdiction. Large cities may have many parishes while a small town usually only has one.
Place Levels (Jurisdictions)
Places are usually written from smallest to largest on a family group record. Municipios are not usually listed:
Huatajata, La Paz, Bolivia
City/Town, Department, Country
Huatajata belongs to the muncipio of Achacachi, and you will need to know this to find the civil registration records, however; when writing the localities on your family group sheet, the municipio is not listed.
When you want to include the parish, which is especially important in large cities, in you locality field you would write it in the follosing manner:
San Pedro, La Paz, La Paz, Bolivia
Parish, City/Town, Department, Country
The parish of San Pedro is located in the city of La Paz.
To find you localities, see the following sources:
- Because some place names and boundaries have changed or no longer exist, you may need to use an old gazetteer that describes places as they were known in earlier times, such as División Política y Administrativa de la República de Bolivia FHL INTL 984 E3a.
- Google Maps is a great place to figure out distances between towns.
- The Spanish version of Wikipedia is also a good place to find towns and learn of their history.
To find you Catholic parish, see the following sources:
- You can learn if you ancestor's town or city had an established parish by checking a church directory. It will list the archidiocese officials and the dioceses with their parishes, so you can easily determine all nearby parishes. It may include historical information about each parish, and sometimes it provides addresses for parishes, the diocese headquarters, and the diocese archives where additional records may be kept.
If you ancestor came from a large city that had several parishes, you will need to know what section of the city he or she lived in to determine what parish he or she belonged to, however; in a large city such as La Paz or Sucre, you may find that even if you know the closest parish, sometimes the family went to the cathedral or the parish of a relative in the same city for the baptism of a child. If you do not find the complete family in the home parish, search the surrounding parishes of the city.
If you family lived in a very small village that did not have an established parish, you will need to check a map, church directory, or gazetteer to determine which nearby town had a parish.
Records from FamilySearch
Once you have identified the name and jurisdiction of the town of you ancestors you will want to check the FamilySearch Catalog and FamilySearch Record Collections for records about your ancestors. For more information about how to search the FamilySearch catalog you will want to read Using the FamilySearch Catalog.
To search the catalog, as well as indexed records and images available online from FamilySearch, you will need to visit FamilySearch.org. To find the record collections for Bolivia, click on South America and choose Bolivia from the list. Finally, click on Start researching in Bolivia.