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 .


Foreign Title

Guatemala, Censos Coloniales de Centro América

Collection Time Period

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.

Record Description

This is a collection of various censuses of Guatemala. The earlier censuses are handwritten in Spanish in narrative style, and later ones are written on formatted ledger-style forms. The genealogical information found in the census includes: name and surname, age at the time of the census, marital or civil status, occupation, origin, properties, and religion. The census is divided by municipalities or cantons.

Record Content

Key genealogical facts found in civil census include:
Guatemala Guatemala City Census 1877 (09-0207) DGS 4444042 49.jpg

• Name and surname
• Age at time of census
• Marital status
• Occupation
• Origin
• Gender
• Literacy
• Disability
• Religion
• Race

Key genealogical facts found in church census include:
Guatemala Colonial Censuses (09-0267) DGS 4485140 260 4485131 231.jpg

• Name and surname
• Age
• Marital status
• Church parish of marriage
• Sometimes the parents’ names
• If the person has children and sometimes the children’s names and ages

How to Use the Records

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

Record History

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.

Why This Collection Was Created?

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

Record Reliability

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.

Related Web Sites

Central America,Colonial Census Records

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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.

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Sources of Information for This Collection:

"Central America Colonial Census Records," database, FamilySearch; from the Archivo General de Centro América. "Central America, Colonial Census records." General Archive of Central America, Guatemala City, Guatemala. FHL microfilm. Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.

The format for citing FamilySearch Historical Collections, including how to cite individual archives is found in the following link: How to Create Source Citations for FamilySearch Historical Records Collections

Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections

A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the Wiki Article:

How to Cite FamilySearch Collections

Please add sample citations to this article following the format guidelines in the wiki article listed above. Examples of citations:

  • United States. Bureau of the Census. 12th census, 1900, digital images, From FamilySearch Internet (http://www.familysearch.org):September(www.familysearch.org):September 29, 2006), Arizona Territory, Maricopa, Township 1, East Gila, Salt River Base and Meridian; sheet 9B, line 71
  • Mexico, Distrito Federal, Catholic Church Records, 1886-1933, digital images, from FamilySearch Internet ("http://www.familysearch.org"): April 22, 2010), Baptism of Adolfo Fernandez Jimenez, 1 Feb. 1910, San Pedro Apóstol, Cuahimalpa, Distrito Federal, Mexico, film number 0227023