Friday, September 28, 2007

My IGI Videoette

I have tested the 'new features waters' of Blogger, and put together my first 'videoette.' I thought I would put together a short presentation on the IGI, because it is so important to those doing Hispanic genealogy. I hope you enjoy it...I am putting together all my video and audio files myself (with free software) so please be patient as I figure out the best way for me to edit everything.

You can read more about the IGI in one of my earlier posts:

I hope you give me some feedback on my videoette. I'm curious if you like the idea or not, and if you do what other topics would you like me to cover?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Hispanic and Mexican Family History Classes Online

Last weekend I taught a couple classes at a genealogy conference in Austin, Texas. I briefly mentioned that there were some online genealogy classes that the conference attendees should take advantage of...everyone wanted to know more and I promised that I would put the information up on my blog.

Visit and click on the link 'Class Calendar' located on the home page. If you look at the calendar you will see that on Sunday evenings Jonathan Walker teaches classes on Hispanic genealogy from 7:15pm to 7:45pm. For anyone interested in these classes please contact Jonathan at:

Thank you all for a wonderful conference!! It was a lot of fun...

Monday, September 17, 2007

FamilySearch Wiki Beta Launched

If you haven't heard yet, the FamilySearch Wiki (beta version) was launched about a week ago. The site is available for anyone to browse, and the World Wide Support division of FamilySearch is looking for volunteers to help grow the content. If you would like a user account to log in and add an article you will probably have to go through the Contact Us page for now, but open registration should happen sooner than later.

I haven't been involved in the project for about a month now so my numbers might be off a little. There are over 3,000 articles on the site so far, and more than 200 of them are in Spanish. The majority of the articles have been taken from the Research Guidance and Research Helps found on, but they have been in the process of updating them. Many of the articles contain additional information on the research topics including links to websites to helpful sites, and updated contact information for libraries and archives. The site is really becoming a great resources for anyone learning how to do their family history.

Here are a couple of examples:
Here are a couple of cool features of the site:
  • Discussion Groups - aka Forums...there are only a couple right now, but they will probably grow. Forums are great to communicate and coordinate research with others. They are especially nice to ask for help or advice.
  • Multiple Languages - Right now the site is a little English top heavy, but as more and more people get involved there will be thousands of articles in many languages. Simply click on one of the language flags on the home page to use the site in that language. Can you believe that they already have 200+ articles in Spanish?
  • Search - It was so hard to find and use content on, now you can search for a specific topic like "Chile immigration" and you will be directed straight to that article.
There are several more features...visit the site and discover them yourself!! The more people use the site and contribute the more successful it will become. No matter what level of researcher you feel that you are everyone has something to contribute...try it, you'll like it!

Friday, September 14, 2007

FamilySearch Presentation at the Nosotros Los Tejanos Genealogy Conference

Many of the people that attended my class "Discovering the FamilySearch Treasure Trove" at the Nosotros Los Tejanos Genealogy and History Conference asked for a handout, and/or a copy of my presentation. Here is a list of websites that I talked about, but you will need to visit: (give me a couple of days to post it please).

FamilySearch Websites:
Many of you were asking for my blog's URL...if you are reading this, then you already found it, but here it is anyway:

Tuesday, September 11, 2007 and Partnership Announced and have teamed up. This is great news for anyone with Latin American ancestry...finally someone besides FamilySearch posts a significant database/collection for a country in Latin America.

The Familias-Argentinas database contains more than 130,000 connected entries, and is claiming it is the the biggest of its kind for South America.

After the database has been launched, it will be free to access at for 10 days.

To read more about the partnership and how you can tap into it visit:

Sunday, September 9, 2007

1930 Mexican Census Indexing Project

I hope everyone is ready to help out with the indexing of the 1930 Mexican census. If you haven't already heard, the census is one of the upcoming projects that will be available through FamilySearch's new web-based indexing program.

The project will be the first Spanish project offered through FamilySearch Indexing (FSI), and will be an excellent research tool for anyone doing Mexican family history research. If you haven't indexed before, it is now easier than ever before. Visit and register...your account will be activated within a couple of days. Once your account has been activated you will be able to choose from several different projects to help in the indexing efforts.

FSI has plenty of tutorials to get you going. It will walk you through the download of the FSI software, and other items that will help you as you index. The neatest thing about FSI, besides from being web-based, is that you can work at your own pace. A batch (one census page in this case) will take about 30 minutes to do. If you get interrupted you will be able to save your work and return when you have time.

Your participation in the Mexico 1930 census project is very important. If enough people participate and FamilySearch sees that Spanish projects are getting accomplished quickly, then they will inevitably post more Spanish projects. Once projects are done (in some cases partly finished) they will be published on the new Record Search ( Evidence of this is the handful of collections they already have posted on the site. Up to this point the U.S. 1900 census has been the major one state is indexed (and checked), then the index along with the images are posted on the site.

Image the day when hundreds of Spanish record collections are posted on the internet free to search. I think the Mexican 1930 census project will only be the tip of the iceberg for Spanish family history related records posted online...we can either standby and wait for others to do the work, or we can actively participate and help speed up the process.

Please visit and register. Your help is needed...remember: "If we all do a little, then we can all do a lot." Keep your eyes open for the Mexico 1930 census project to be released within a week or two. The following Mexican states will be the first to be indexed:

  • Aguascalientes
  • Baja and Campeche
  • Chiapas
  • Chihuahua
FamilySearch Indexing works/partners with genealogy and historical societies and other interested groups (see bottom of the page). If you belong to a society or group you may want to contact the FamilySearch Indexing support at:

Friday, September 7, 2007

Dispensas Matrimoniales

It's been a busy past few weeks. I transferred to a new position in the Family History department, and I started teaching at BYU again...'Computers in Family History.' To say the least, I'm a little behind on my blog posts, however, I promised a little on dispensas matrimoniales...enjoy.

According to Catholic canon law there are a handful of impediments that can hold a couple back from getting married. I'm not going to try to name them all, but you can find many of them online, and in 'Finding Your Hispanic Roots' (page 195) by George R. Ryskamp. In short there are two major categories of impediments:

  1. Diriment - diriment impediments are not pardonable if one is discovered after a couple was married...they would actually void the marriage. This is why a pre-marriage investigation took place before a couple got married. If the impediments were discovered before the marriage, the couple could petition to the diocesan bishop for special permission to marry. The more common diriment impediments include:
    • Consanguinidad - couple was blood related within the 4th degree, or a common great great grandparent.
    • Afinidad - couple was related by marriage within the 4th degree
    • Espiritual o Compadrazgo - couple was related by godparents within the 4th degree
  2. Preventative - Preventative were not as example would be a commitment of one of the marrying parties to marry someone else.
Regular parish marriage records normally elude to the pre-marriage investigation and the resulting dispensation. The key term in the marriage record is: "no habiendo resultado impedimiento ninguno...(phrases vary)" or if the couple did run up to an impediment the record will read something like: "...con dispensa apostolica del tercero grado...(phrases vary)" If you find a phrase similar to this there is probably another record for the marriage, the dispensation of the impediment. Dispensas are normally found in the dioceses, because the diocesan bishop was the one to grant it.

Dispensas contain a lot of great information about the marrying couple and why they needed a dispensation. In my research in the Granda, Spain expedientes matrimoniales and dispensas I have seen dispensation records as long as 30 pages. The records often structured this way:

  • Presentation of the marriage applicants/petition - this is usually a paragraph outlining the couple desiring to marry. Usually gives their place of birth, their parents' names (especially a minor was involved), and their intent to marry each other.
  • Acceptance of the marriage petition - usually not very long, however, the parish priest accepts to investigate the impediment so the couple can marry.
  • Investigator idenitfied - statement who will carry out the pre-marriage investigation. This was normally done by a local notary or the local parish priest. In the dispensas that I've used this section usually lists the questions that the investigator is going to ask the witnesses. If anyone is interested I can supply these questions...but I don't want to go too long.
  • Testimony of 3 witnesses - three different individuals that know the couple getting married. They testify that they know of the impediment and outline how the couple is related (great for genealogists). These testimonies sometimes give interesting biographical data, like how long the bride or groom has lived in a particular parish, etc.
  • Applicant statements - bride and groom give a statement of the facts found in the investigation
  • Summary - the investigator basically sums up the findings of the investigation for the bishop. Many times this summary will include a drawing (click here for an example) that shows the bishop in one page how the couple was related.
  • Dispensation - Statement/document signed by the diocesan bishop granting the couple permission to marry.
I have spent several hundred hours researching in Granada, Spain over the last few years. The families that I'm research live in a town where all the parish records have been destroyed. I have used only expedientes matrimoniales (dispensas are mixed in with them), and have uncovered 200+ years of genealogy. Even though I'm not finding all the children of each couple, I have successfully found over 400 individuals. The collection is a gold mine, because many of the parish records in the diocese of Granada were destroyed during the civil war. The marriages are indexed and cover the years 1556 - 1933. To find dispensations you should be looking in diocesan archives first since the dispensations were actually granted by the diocesan bishop.