PARES: How to do a simple search
The Portal de Archivos Españoles online (PARES) is a powerful tool to obtain information about historical documents of genealogical value in Spain. It contains records from many years prior to the discovery of America up through the present and is therefore a good source of information for Spaniards who emigrated to America including permits for travel to the New World.
- Go to the home page of PARES (www.pares.mcu.es).
- Click on Busqueda Sencilla (Simple search).
- Enter the name of the ancestor you seek, for example Cristobal Colon also known as Christopher Columbus. You can limit your search to exact terms by placing them in quotation marks “Cristobal Colon”. By placing the search criteria in quotation marks, you will receive only results with these exact terms. The first search, not in quotation marks, will return searches that include either word – Cristobal or Color, or both words.
- In the boxes next to the word “Fecha: desde and hasta” (date: from and until) you can add a range of years for your search.
- Click the button “Buscar” (Search) to begin your search. Use “Limpiar Formulario” (Reset the form) to change your search criteria.
Select the records you wish to see
The next screen will show the results of your search.
- Click on the entry that interests you. For example, if you looking for the permit that your ancestor received to travel to America prior to the 1800s, you can click on the entry “Catalogo de Pasajeros a Indias” if it appears in your results.
- In the following screen you will see at the bottom of the screen below the box that says “Titulo, Signatura,” etc. If there is an icon of a camera on the right hand side of the page, this indicates that the document has been digitized and you can see it online. Just click on the camera to see the image.
We recommend these online classes to help you in reading the old documents in Spanish.
- Spanish Script Tutorials
- Reading Spanish Handwritten Records Lesson 1: The Spanish Alphabet
- Reading Spanish Handwritten Records Lesson 2: Words and Dates
- Reading Spanish Handwritten Records Lesson 3: Reading Spanish Records
See document details
If there is not a camera icon, click on the title of the record to see more details about the document. To see more details about where the document is kept click on the button “Ver” (view). On the right you will see the reference number. As you look at these details you should be able to determine where the event took place.
Many archives are willing to make copies of documents for a fee. Use the archive guide “Censo-Guia” to try to locate the address of the archive holding the records desired. In many instances there may be both an email address and a physical address. If you try to send an email and it goes without response for more than a few weeks, it would be a good idea to send a regular letter to inquire about getting copies of the document. This letter will be better received if it is written in Spanish. Please see the article Spanish Letter Writing Guide for further assistance.
- Be patient. The archives with digitized images may be slow in making their images available online because of the enormous size of their holdings.
- Always use the “Atras” button to go back to the previous page rather than the back arrow on your Browser.
- Remember you have a choice to view “Todos los registros” (all records), “Registros digitalizados” (digitized records) or “Registros no digitalizados” (Records not digitized). Your best option to start is to choose to view all records. It is always better to start with a broad range of criteria which will give you more choices than to limit your choices from the start. Less is better when entering information.
- To learn more about the PARES site, please watch this video. Note: It is only available in Spanish.