If you have Mexican ancestry and research those family lines, like I do, you undoubtedly spend quite a bit of time on FamilySearch. FamilySearch is the largest provider of digitized Mexico genealogy records in the world (the same is likely true for microfilmed records), and they make these records available to the public for FREE. No paid subscription required.
But if you use their Search feature to look for records pertaining to your Mexican ancestors and collateral relatives, you may be missing out on these very records. Aside from the possibility that you misspelled a name, or that mistakes were made by transcribers or indexers, chances are pretty good that the particular record sets you seek just have not yet been indexed. And if they have not been indexed, those records are not yet searchable.
Using the Search Feature
At first glance, if you land on the Search Records feature for FamilySearch, it would appear that you can search within their collection of Mexico records. And you can…assuming those particular record groups have already been indexed. If the records have not been indexed, they cannot show up in search results.
The following example is from my own family research.
My great-grandparents Jose Robledo and Maria Hermalinda Nieto married in 1908 in Armadillo de los Infante, state of San Luis Potosí, Mexico. They immigrated to the United States on 27 October 1915 via the Laredo, Texas border entry point. From U.S. border crossing records and Mexico civil registration records, I know that the couple gave birth to at least three children while still in Mexico. Yet searching on their surnames (see screenshot below), for civil registration records in the state of San Luis Potosí, between the years 1905 – 1916 yields no civil birth registration records for any of these three known children.
I imagine many family historians who are new to working with Mexico records give up at this point, simply assuming FamilySearch just doesn’t have the desired records available online. Because that was me…even up until a couple years ago.
Granted, it is very possible that FamilySearch does not have the records at all, online, on microfilm, or in print. But it is more likely that they just have not indexed those records yet.
Non-Searchable Digitized Records
Which is indeed the case.
The examples below are digitized records for one of the known three children born to my great-grandparents back in Mexico: a 1913 civil birth registration, and sadly the 1914 death registration for the same female child.
I found these records, and learned about this child–a sister my grandfather never knew, and probably never even knew about–by painstakingly browsing image by image, page by page, through the non-indexed, non-searchable, browsable-only digitized civil registration records for Armadillo de los Infante, in the state of San Luis Potosí, Mexico. Just like we have to do when using microfilm.
The annotations I show in red markings for both records clearly show that digitized records exist referencing the terms I used above in my attempted search.
- Both records identify Jose Robledo and Maria Nieto as the parents. My search query looked for Robledo individuals born to a Robledo father and a Nieto mother.
- The birth record is dated 1913, and the death record is dated 1914. My search query looked for records dated 1905 to 1916.
So don’t give up if your attempted searches do not uncover records for your Mexican ancestors! It just takes a little more digging and patience to find those valuable records.
Not sure how to access those non-indexed, non-searchable, browsable-only digitized records? We will walk through that in the next blog post. Wondering what civil registration records are and how to read them? Watch for future posts.
I am teaching “An Introduction to Researching Your Mexican Ancestors” at the Texas State Genealogical Society’s 2015 Family History Conference at the end of this month. My intro session is followed by two more advanced classes in the Hispanic Genealogy track on Saturday, October 31st. Register on the conference website.
Mexican Genealogy Research Methodology
Follow my personal family history blog at www.cjroots.com to see working examples of my methodology and strategies.
My father—despite being raised by his Mexican-immigrant grandmother—never knew anything about his family history, other than that his father's family came from the State of San Luis Potosí and fled to the U.S. during the violent Mexican Revolution. For 13 years, I tried and failed to trace his lines back to Mexico. In early 2015, I started busting down those brick walls, and have continued to experience a landslide of success.
Genealogy sources are cited in Evidence Explained format.
- Armadillo de los Infante, San Luis Potosí, Archivo del Registro Civil (Civil Registration Archive), Nacimientos (Births), 1913; entry 84, Celedenia Robledo, 6 March 1913; digital image, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/search : accessed 30 September 2015) > Mexico > San Luis Potosí, Civil Registration, 1859-2000 > Armadillo de los Infante > Nacimientos 1913-1919 > image 34. ↩
- Armadillo de los Infante, San Luis Potosí, Archivo del Registro Civil (Civil Registration Archive), Nacimientos (Births), 1913; entry 84, Celedenia Robledo. ↩
- Armadillo de los Infante, San Luis Potosí, Archivo del Registro Civil (Civil Registration Archive), Defunciones (Deaths), 1914; entry 141, Celedenia Robledo, 12 September 1914; digital image, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/search : accessed 4 October 2015) > Mexico > San Luis Potosí, Civil Registration, 1859-2000 > Armadillo de los Infante > Defunciones 1914-1919 > image 49. ↩
- Armadillo de los Infante, San Luis Potosí, Archivo del Registro Civil (Civil Registration Archive), Defunciones (Deaths), 1914; entry 141, Celedenia Robledo. ↩
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