Saturday, August 25, 2007

Hispanic Family History and Genealogy Conference at the FHL

I really wanted to get to marriage dispensations, however, I promised that I would update update everyone about the annual Hispanic Family History and Genealogy Conference at the Family History Library when I got more first things first.

I sat in on a planning meeting for the conference and the final schedule should be set. Here is what you can expect...

Friday, October 19th
  • 8am - Finding and Using Hispanic Sources that Tell the Story (4 hrs) by Dr. George R. Ryskamp
  • 1pm - Research Before 1650 in Spain and Mexico (4 hrs) by Dr. George R. Ryskamp
Saturday, October 20th
  • 10am
    • Cómo empezar por Leandro Soria
    • Buscando antepasados Mexicanos en el internet por Lynn Turner, AG
    • Introducción del por Elder Orrantia (missionary serving in the FHL)
    • How to begin Spanish language research by Candela Romero
    • Usando el IGI y otros indices en la investigación genealogica por Dr. George R. Ryskamp
  • 11am
    • Censo Mexicano de 1930 por Ruth Gomez Schirmacher, AG
    • PAF - principantes por Elder Orrantia
    • Registros parroquiales y civiles por Lynn Turner, AG
    • Investigación en archivos nacionales de España y Latinoamerica por Dr. George R. Ryskamp
    • Parish and Civil Registration Records by Peggy Ryskamp, CG
  • Lunch - (not provided)
  • 1pm
    • Archivos municipales por Dr. George R. Ryskamp
    • Como preparar nombres para Templeready por Elder Orrantia
    • How to read Spanish records by Lynn Turner, AG
    • Como leer y entender los registros por Ruth Gomez Schirmacher, AG
    • Como hacer mas interesante su historia familiar por Karina Morales
  • 2pm
    • Helping people overcome obstacles by Jennifer Kerns
    • FamilySearch Indexing en Español por Ruth Gomez Schirmacher, AG
    • Como usar y entender catalogos de los archivos por Lynn Turner, AG
    • Genealogia y la geografia de Mexico por Peggy Ryskamp, CG
    • Como usar el catalogo de la Biblioteca de Historia Familiar por Irene Jimenez
  • 3pm
    • Consultas de investigacion genealogica - Time given to conference attendees to do some of their own research and get some help from conference instructors.
The conference will be free, however, the FHL would like people to register for the classes before attending. You can register via email ( or telephone (801 240 4950). The schedule might change a little. To keep current with any changes visit the Family History Library Monthly Class Schedules.

Please let others know...and get as many people there as possible. The more conference attendees the better the chances that the 'conference' will turn into a semi-annual event. Note: all classes will be taught in Spanish, unless the title is in English.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Expedientes Matrimoniales Continued

I felt bad last week for having to cut my post short, however, it was probably getting a little long so maybe it was a good thing I was having a few issues. The issues seem to be resolved now, and I'm ready to continue my last post, but with a twist...I have included my preliminary findings on which dioceses have pre-marriage investigations in Spain. I also couldn't wait until next week to talk about marriage dispensations, so I've included an image to wet your appetite.

Pre-marriage Investigation records is the topic (aka expedientes matrimoniales, información matrimonial, and diligencias matrimoniales) and I was discussing how to find them. Before I continue down that vein I wanted to share what I have found for Spain as far as the availability of pre-marriage investigations.

Using the Guía de la Iglesia de España. I have found that the following dioceses have collections of expedientes matrimoniales (followed by the years covered by each collection). For a complete list of Spain's dioceses click here...
  • Avila (1529-1979)
  • Barbastro-Monzon (1545-1982)
  • Barcelona (1649-1776)*
  • Burgos (1813-1996)
  • Cadiz-Ceuta (1596-1997)
  • Canarias (1700-1840)
  • Ciudad Rodrigo (1633-1981)*
  • Coria-Caceres (no years given)
  • Girona (1344-1950)
  • Granada (1556-1933)*
  • Guadix (no years given-mixed with limpezas de sangre)
  • Huesca (1600-1900)
  • Jerez de la Frontera (1659-1892)
  • Leon (1600-1900)
  • Lleida (beginning in 1900)
  • Malaga (1775-1900)
  • Mallorca (1800-1900)
  • Menorca (1900-1965)
  • Mondenado (1700-1900)
  • Ourense (1800-1900)
  • Plascensia (no years given)
  • Salamanca (1918 to present)
  • Santander (1557-1973?)
  • Santiago de Compostela (1500s-1900)
  • Siguenza (1600-1900)
  • Tarragona (no years given)
  • Teruel-Albarracin (1582-1834)
  • Toledo (no years given)
  • Tortosa (no years given)
  • Seu d'Urgell (1602-1952)
  • Valladolid (no years given)
  • Vitoria (no years given)
  • Zamora (1506-1919)
  • Zaragoza (no years given)

This study was brief, and not exhaustive of all available resources. Some of these are vague and/or include marriage dispensations (see upcoming posts on this topic...see above image for an example of this too). The * denotes that these collections are available through the Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City.

For Latin American countries you will want to search at the parish level to begin with. For example the FHL has informaciones matrimoniales for the parish of Ojuelos de Jalisco, Jalisco, Mexico for the years 1800 thru 1945. Pre-marriage investigations for other Latin American countries will most likely be in the parish archives, but the diocesan archives should be checked as well. To search for informaciones matrimoniales for your ancestor's parish in the Family History Library Catalog (FHLC). Follow these steps:
  1. go to
  2. click on Explore the Family History Library Catalog
  3. click on Place Search
  4. in the first box enter the town name where your ancestor would have married (for example Ojuelos de Jalisco)
  5. in the second box enter the country (example: Mexico) and click Search
  6. click on Church Records
  7. click on the link that says: Registros Parroquiales [followed by a range of years]
  8. in the upper right hand corner of the screen click on View Film Notes
  9. the records will be arranged by baptisms, confirmations, then marriages. The entries titled informaciones matrimoniales are the pre-marriage investigation records.
From this point you will have to order the microfilm to your local family history center. Contact your local center for microfilm ordering information.

You can also try the Censo-guia. Since this post is getting long, I will save you from all the details. It is pretty self explanatory, just enter place name information like the FHLC, and click search. If you find the archive you are looking for, the site contains parish and diocesan archives, you will see a list of collections on the left side of the screen. You can click on each entry (or the plus next to each entry), and learn more about the collections. This guide or inventory of collections within archives can guide you to records available throughout Latin America. If the link above doesn't work follow these steps:
  1. go to
  2. click on Archivos
  3. click on Censo-guia de Archivos
  4. click on Directorio de Archivos
  5. perform your search
I have really liked using these records. They complement 'regular' parish records very well, and have proven to be a viable parish record substitute. Please come back and learn more about these and many other valuable records you can use in your family history research.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Spanish Catholic Church Marriage Records


Hopefully you haven't given up on me...I've been a little busy preparing for the BYU Family History and Genealogy Conference. I just finished up a research session for a client, which made me think about Catholic Church marriage records. The family's ancestors are from Granada, Spain, which I'm convinced was one of the hardest hit regions during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). Many of the parish records were destroyed making it quite difficult to trace the families in this area, however, I found a great substitute that I believe is looked over way too often.

Different Types of Marriage Records

In his book, Finding Your Hispanic Roots, Dr. George R. Ryskamp lists five different types of marriage records (see page 193). I've listed them below, however, I will discuss in the first type in further detail.

  1. Pre-marriage investigation (información, diligencia, or expediente matrimonial)
  2. Parish marriage register entry
  3. Marriage dispensation
  4. Church and civil court records relating to marital relations
  5. Dowry inventories and pre-nuptial/post-nuptial contracts

As a side note I might consider a sixth record. The velación or marriage blessing is normally part of the regular parish marriage entry, however forty days before advent (Christmas) and lent (Easter). Sometimes there are separate entries for these blessings, which can be helpful if the record of the actual marriage was destroyed or lost. Other times this is just a marginal note next to the marriage entry.

Pre-marriage Investigation Records

Before a couple could marry in the Catholic Church they had to prove good standing in the church. The couple also had to testify that they were consenting adults, and were not bound by any Canonical impediments. This investigation was done by the parish priest where the couple planned on marrying. In the Hispanic world this usually meant the home parish of the bride. Beginning in the late 1700s it was also a requirement that if one of the engaged parties was a minor, then they had to get written permission from their father, or legal guardian.

Pre-marriage investigation records range from a few pages long to several pages long. In the Granada investigations, which cover the years 1512-1930s, the average length is about 8 or 9 pages. The 'packets' (as I refer to them) usually contain the following information:

  1. Consent of the marrying parties
  2. Parental permission (if necessary)
  3. Testimonies of 3 witnesses that testify that they know the couple and that they are of good standing in the Catholic Church
  4. Baptism records of the bride and groom (good standing proof) and if the parties are widowed a death record of the deceased
  5. Result of the investigation concerning the canonical impediments and the priest's permission for the couple to marry

Where to Find Them

Pre-marriage investigations are normally kept in separate sacrament books, and often times not microfilmed with the regular parish registers. Please keep in mind that there are not pre-marriage investigation records for every parish. Some were destroyed and others were lost (for one reason or another).

In Spain pre-marriage investigations are referred to as Expedientes Matrimoniales and can normally be found in the diocesan archives. In a preliminary survey I have identified that about 1/3 of the dioceses in Spain have expedientes in their archives. I will add my survey as my next blog entry.

In Latin America these records are normally still in parish archives, however, they may also be found in the diocesan archives as well. Mexico is a good example of them being with the parish records, and you will often see the actual marriage records mention the result of the investigation and the page number or entry number where the investigation can be found.

The first place to look for pre-marriage investigations should be the FHLC (Family History Library Catalog). Perform a Place Search for the parish (if researching in Latin America) or the dioceses (if researching in Spain).

The second place to look is in Ecclesiastical directories and in the Censo-guia.

I am currently having some problems, and will finish this article soon (along with some additional information).