Central America, Colonial Census Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.
Access the records: Central America, Colonial Census Records .

Title in the Language of the Record

Guatemala, Censos Coloniales de Centro América

Record Description

Guatemala 800px-San andres xecul church 2009.jpg

This collection includes records from 1607 to 1902.

This is a collection of various censuses of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Mexico. The earlier censuses are handwritten in Spanish in narrative style; later censuses are written on formatted ledger-style forms.

According to the “Instituto Nacional de Identificación” (National Institute of Identification), the only relevant statistical activity in the colonial period was the population censuses carried out in the province of Guatemala by the Catholic Church ecclesiastical authorities, which began in the early 1500s. Some of these colonial censuses are actually membership records. These records are housed at the Archivo Histórico Arquidiocesano (Historical Archive of the Archdiocese of Guatemala) and have great importance in the historical reconstruction of the social, economic, and cultural process of Guatemala and the Central American region of the colonial period. Some of these earlier records are quite damaged and therefore, some information is missing.

It wasn’t until the beginning of Guatemala’s independence in 1821 that civil authorities began keeping statistical records of the country’s population.

This collection includes a variety of civil and church censuses from about 1662-1921. In the colonial Guatemala region, the church censuses began to be recorded in the early 1500s and the civil censuses in the early 1800s.

The authorities’ mission for the census was that the statistics gathered would effectively contribute to the development and democracy of Guatemala.

The census was regularly taken by authorized citizens. They collected the information given to them from a member of the household, who may not have known the exact data. It is recommended to use the census information with caution as there may be some mistakes. However, the information gathered will help to find other information not found in vital records.

For a list of records by date or locality currently published in this collection, select the Browse link from the collection landing page.

Citation for This Collection:

The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org Historical Records collections. Sources include the author, custodian, publisher, and archive for the original records.

Guatemala Direccion General de Estadistica. Central America, Colonial Census Records. Archivo General de Centro America, Guatemala City, Guatemala.

Suggested citation format for a record in this collection.

Record Content

These records usually contain the following information:

  • House number, street, square and parish where family lived
  • Head of household
  • Names of person living in household
  • Marital or civil status
  • Age at time of census
  • Religion
  • Profession or occupation
  • Origin
  • Number of adult males and females
  • Number of male and female children
  • Literacy
  • Properties
  • Designation for white, Indian, native, or mixed race

The census is divided by municipalities or cantons.

How to Use the Record

To browse this collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒ Select the "Browse" link in the initial search page
⇒ Select the "Pai"s
⇒ Select the "Provincia/Departamento"
⇒ Select the "Pueblo/Ciudad"
⇒ Select the "Año y Tipo de Registro" which takes you to the images.

Look at the images one by one comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine which one is your ancestor. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to make this determination.

Use this collection of records to find clues about the data needed to further research an ancestor in the vital records, such as civil registration or church records.

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.

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Contributions to This Article

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.

Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections

When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records.

A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the wiki aticle Help:How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.

Citation Example for a Record Found in This Collection

"Central America, Colonial Census Records," images, FamilySearch (https://familysearach.org; accessed 9 May 2012), Guatemala > Chiquimula > San Esteban > 1821-Padrones > Image 40 of 195 images, Guadalupe Gomes; citing Census Records, FHL microfilm 748,133 Item 2, Padrones de Guatemala : La Gomera, ladinos, Archivo General de Centro América, Guatemala.