Mexico Archives and Libraries

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Archives collect and preserve valuable original documents of organizations such as churches or governments that contain information about the populace. Libraries generally collect published sources such as books, maps, and microfilm. This section describes the major repositories of genealogical and historical records and sources for Mexico. When one of these institutions is referred to elsewhere in this outline, return to this section to obtain the address.

If you plan to visit one of these repositories, contact the organization and ask for information about its collection, hours, services, and fees. Some archives have catalogs, inventories, guides, or periodicals that describe their records and how to use them. If possible, study these guides before visiting the archives so you can use your time more effectively.

Archives in Spain

Records about the European discovery, exploration, and colonization of Mexico are found in the following archives:

Archivo General de Indias
Avda. de la Constitución
41004 Sevilla, Spain
Telephone: 422-5158
Fax: 421-9485

Archivo General Militar de Segovia
Alcázar 40071 Segovia, Spain
Telephone: 43-65-11
Fax: 44-31-49

Archivo Central Militar del Servicio Histórico Militar
C/Mártires de Alcalá 9
28015 Madrid, Spain
Telephone: 247-0300
Fax: 559-4371

Archivo Histórico Nacional
C/Serrano 115
28006 Madrid, Spain
Telephone: 563-5923, 261-8003-5
Fax: 563-1199

A summary of the records preserved at the Archivo General de Indias is found in:

Peña y Cámara, José María de la. Archivo General de Indias de Sevilla: Guía de Visitante (General Archive of the Indies of Seville: Visitor’s Guide). Madrid: Dirección General de Archivos y Bibliotecas, 1958. (FHL book 946 A2s; film 0896895.)

An additional description of the records at the Archivo General de Indias, and other Spanish and Latin American archives that house documents of the Spanish American colonial period is found in:

Documentación y Archivos de la Colonización Española (Documentation and Archives of the Spanish Colonization). Madrid: Ministerio de Cultura, 1980. (FHL book 946 A3d.)

There are other published guides of the many archives in Spain. Look for these in your local libraries.

Mexican Archives

Mexico has several major types of genealogical repositories:

    • National government archives and libraries

State archives

    • Local civil offices/municipio offices
    • Catholic Church archives
    • University archives and libraries
    • Historical and genealogical societies

The Family History Library has microfilmed copies of many records from the Mexican national and state archives, libraries, and other record repositories.

National Government Archives and Libraries

The 10,000 Volunteers Sought to Put Mexican, Other Latin American Family History on Web\ National Archives of Mexico (Archivo General de la Nación) is an important source of genealogical and historical information. It collects records related to Mexican history, culture, and people. Records o

f genealogical value at the National Archives include:

    • Church records
    • Civil records
    • Censuses
    • Court records
    • Military records
    • Emigration lists
    • Land records

The Archivo General de la Nación is open to the public. Microfilm copies of some of the records at the archive are available at the Family History Library and other major archives and libraries. You may be able to purchase microfilms from these archives or request photocopies of the records by writing to:

Archivo General de la Nación
Eduardo Molina y Albañiles
Col. Penitenciaría Ampliación
Deleg. Venustiano Carranza
C.P. 15350 México, D.F.

Some helpful guides to Archivo General de la Nación collection include:

Argena II: Documentos Coloniales(Argena II, Colonial Documents). Colima, México: Cenedic, 1995. (FHL compact disc no. 420.) Describes 322 documental record groups in the National Archives. The records in the New Spain section of the archives consist of 115 record groups containing more than 41,000 volumes.

Archivo General de la Nación Guía General (General Guide to the National Archives). México, D.F.: Difusión y Publicaciones del Archivio General de la Nación, 1991. (FHL book 972 A3gg.)

Branches of the Archivo General de la Nación collect records dealing with specialized subject matter such as military records, industry, trade, commerce, and so on. You may want to write to these archives for more detailed information. For addresses of these archives, which are also located in Mexico City, write to the Archivo General de la Nación, or consult the following reference:

International Directory of Archives/Annuaire International des Archives. London, England: K.G. Saur, 1992. (FHL book 020.5 Ar 25 v.38.)

State Archives

The states in Mexico have archives that serve as repositories for their own records. Each state has jurisdiction over its own archives, which are separate from the national archives, and its own criteria for retaining, archiving, and housing records.

Many records of genealogical value are kept by these archives. For example the states of Yucatán, Oaxaca, Veracruz, Puebla, Tlaxcala, Hidalgo, Mexico, Queretaro, Michoacán, Jalisco, Guanajuato, San Luis Potosí, Aguascaientes, Durango, Nuevo León and Zacatecas have excellent records. The records of genealogical value at the state archives include:

    • Birth, marriage, and death records
    • Censuses
    • Land records
    • Some church records
    • Notarial records
    • Probates
    • Judgments
    • Court records

Some of the state archives are open to the public. You may want to write to the archive you want to visit to ensure it allows researchers. Some archives may require a letter of identification. Addresses for each of the state archives are found in Appendix A and are listed in the following book:

International Directory of Archives/Annuaire International des Archives. London, England: K.G. Saur, 1992. (FHL book 020.5 Ar 25 v.38.)

Addresses to these archives can also be found on the Internet at:

Local Civil Offices/Municipio Records Offices

Many records in Mexico are created by the local government. Civil registration, including birth, marriage, and death records, started in 1859. Every municipio in Mexico has jurisdiction over its own archives, which are separate from the state archives. Two of the most important municipio archives are El Archivo del Municipio and El Archivo del Registro Civil. These offices are comparable to county courthouses in the United States. For more information about these offices and their records, see Mexico Civil Registration.

When a municipio was established, a municipal archive was also created to keep diverse documents such as the protocolos (notarial records), an important genealogical record that includes:

    • Wills
    • Probate inventories
    • Transfers and land deeds, which have personal information about the parties involved

The records of the Archivo del Municipio have not been filmed, but you can write directly to the municipo.

A list of all the municipal archives in Mexico can be found in:

Guía General de los Archivos Estatales y Municipales de México (General Guide to the Archives of the States and Municipalities of Mexico). México, D.F.: Achivo General de la Nación, ca. 1988. (FHL book 972 A3a.) Contains the addresses of the archives as well as the kind of records they have and the dates the records cover.

Los Municipios de México (The Municipios of Mexico). México: Centro Nacional de Desarrollo Municipal, 1998. (FHL compact disc number 114.)

The Civil registration which began in 1859 is recorded in the Archivo del Registro Civil. Some Municipios had sub-offices (oficialia) in other towns within its borders. These sub-offices kept their own records. The sub-office records are listed in the Family History Library Catalog under the name of the municipio civil registration office. Copies of the civil registration in the Archivo Municipal were sent to the state archives.

You can get information and copies of the civil records by writing to the municipio. If the local registration office does not have the early records, you may want to write to the state civil registration office. See the Spanish Letter Writing Guide (36245).

Addresses of each of the state civil registration offices are found in Appendix B and also on the Internet at:

Catholic Church Archives

The dominant religion in Mexico is Catholicism. As of 1994, there were 14 archdioceses, 58 dioceses, and 7 territorial prelates in Mexico. Church records of baptisms, marriages, and burials are usually kept by local parishes. The diocese archives keep records pertaining to their priests and matters of church administration. You may write to a parish and request brief searches of its records. For more information, see Mexico Church Records.

Addresses of the Mexican dioceses as of 1994 are listed in Appendix C.

Other Libraries

Helpful genealogical resources that cover Latin American History are also available at major libraries in Mexico, Spain, Guatemala, and the United States. Your local university or public library may also have useful information. Contact these libraries and ask about their collection, hours, services, and fees.

There are two types of libraries in Mexico, those sustained by government funds, and those owned by private institutions or individuals. The Asociación Mexicana de Archivos y Bibliotecas Privadas, A.C. (Mexican Association of Private Archives and Libraries, A.C.) has a publication called "Guía de Archivos y Bibliotecas Privados" that lists some of their libraries. The association’s address is:

Calle Guadalajara #104
Colonia Condesa CP 06140
México DF México
Telephone 286-8339
Fax 286-8558

The following archive has an extensive collection of records on the southern Mexican states

Archivo General de Centro América
4a Ave 7-41 zona 1
Ciudad de Guatemala Guatemala
Telephone 2-30-37 51-66-95

The following library has an extensive collection of manuscripts and published sources

Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Biblioteca Central
Ciudad Universitaria
04510 Villa Obregón México

The Instituto Tecnológico has microfilmed a considerable number of records on northeastern Mexico The institute’s address is

Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey Biblioteca
Carretera Nacional km 982
Sucursal de Correos J
Monterrey Nuevo León México

The library of the University of Texas at Austin has over 600000 volumes in their Latin American history collection In addition to the book collection they have many microfilmed records from southern Texas and Northern Mexico

University of Texas at Austin
Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection
Sid Richardson Hall 1-109
Austin, TX 78713-7330
Telephone: (512) 495-4520
Fax: (512) 495-4520

The Bancroft Library has a large collection of Latin American records. The library’s address is:

University of California
Bancroft Library
Berkeley, CA 94720
Telephone: (510) 642-3781

The University of Arizona in Tucson has some of the parish records of the state of Sonora. It also has a large collection of Latin American records. The university’s address is:

University of Arizona in Tucson
Tucson, AZ 85721
Telephone: (520) 621-2211

Inventories, Registers, Catalogs

Most archives have catalogs, inventories, guides, or periodicals that describe their records and how to use them. If possible, study these guides before you visit or use the records of an archive so you can use your time more effectively.

Some of these guides may be available at a public or a university library or through an interlibrary loan system.

The Family History Library has copies of some of the published inventories. It also has other guides, catalogs, directories, and inventories of various libraries and record repositories. These types of records are listed in the Family History Library Catalog under: