CHALLENGING GENEALOGICAL RESEARCH IN ANDALUSIA, SPAIN.
Dernière mise à jour : 24 janv. 2021
You have Iberian roots from Andalusia, Spain and would like to trace them back ?
Welcome to a place where you will have to take challenges because there will be real challenges there .... trying to trace back your ancestry.
Andalusia is a very big autonomous Spanish region and has no less genealogical resources than other Spanish regions . The issue is that they are not all easily accessible and available.
If you are trying to build a family tree you will have to expect to encounter obstacles and brick walls. You will soon realize that you won't be able to trace back all your lines as far back in time as you would have wished to : some branches will go as far back as the 1600's while others will just stop at the turn of the early 1800's.
And what could happen is that depending on the different locations researched, online genealogical resources may be numerous or lacking, from one village to another or from one city to another, things did not always go the same way.
Let's check which (online) genealogical resources are free and accessible and which are not.
GENEALOGICAL RESOURCES WITH NO FREE ACCESS
Andalusia is not a Spanish region which offers free access to its church records to researchers:
- Church records are private property and they belong to the Catholic Church there.
There is no free access or online access to any baptism, marriage or obit records (called Bautismos, Matrimonios y Defunciones in Spanish).
- Church records are private archives and, as such, are not available on the popular familysearch.org website (at least for Andalusia). They are not available on any church dedicated website either but can only be browsed through on the spot with due permission from the Church authorities.
You can still trace back your ancestors if you get permission to go to one of their dedicated libraries but you will have to stay there a few days if you want to study all the documents you need.
In case you would need the archbishop's staff to make research for you it is good to know that this research is not free .You will have to pay for each record's information you need or you will have to hire a local genealogist to do it for you (usually at a very high price) because no one will do all this research work for you for free in Spain.
GENEALOGICAL RESOURCES WITH FREE ONLINE ACCESS
- Spanish civil records (Registro Civil español) from 1870 on only
The Spanish Civil Registry was only created in 1870 in Spain.
Before that, people used to have births (baptisms), marriages and obits recorded by the Catholic Church. No civil records before 1870, a few from that date on ... And this took a few years to make people change their habits. Many citizens or villagers kept the habit to let the Church do the job for them and forgot to have their life events recorded at the Civil Registry.
With time, things improved ... But that is the main reason why some ancestors cannot be traced back in the civil records at the end of the 19th century for example. And that is also why we can assume that civil records are not the only main legit sources at that time and that the civil record collection is not a complete collection.
Let's take the example of someone deceased in the 1930s in Andalusia.
You will probably find online his death certificate in that time range but you will have to be really patient because you will have to browse through huge collections of records with thousands of pages as no alphabetical lists for each year or each decade are available. And this does mean that most obits have not been indexed so far.
Even in the case you finally find a civil death record for this so-called person, his / her birth or marriage might have not been recorded as a civil record. What is even more annoying is that a person's parents were rarely mentioned in a civil death record . This type of record only stated a person's marital status : married, widow(er) or single and that was it ! The name of the spouse was also forgotten in most cases.
What you will find in a death record though is the cause of death and the person's last full address.
Take a look at the example below for this man named Juan Antonio González Moreno.
He died of a cerebral hemorrhage on December 25, 1930 at the age of 75.
From this document we just learn that he was married (casado in Spanish) but no mention here of his spouse's name or his parents' names.
So, you're probably going to tell me , how can I do this research ?
Try to overcome every obstacle and explore new research paths such as ...
- Municipal census records (Padrones in Spanish available on familysearch.org)
- Hospital records of some cities in which you can find some recorded births or deaths.
- Search dedicated (but not free) genealogy websites such Ancestry, MyHeritage or Geneanet.org but don't expect too much from these websites for Spain. As most Spanish records have not been indexed so far... there are very few useful genealogical resources there. Ancestry for instance claims to have a marriage index for all Spanish marriages and you have to pay an extra worldwide subscription for that ... but this index almost gives no clues (just a marriage date and spouses' names but nothing about the groom's or bride's parents' names).
You can also find free indexes for Spanish marriages on Geneanet.org but only for a few regions.
The most awesome thing is when you happen to find already-built trees from other subscribers which match your research quest but even in that case don't forget to double check their data with original sources!
- Explore notarial records (wills and other transactions)
A quick tour of online available sources ...
Padrones (or census records)
These municipal census records are censuses established for whole villages or cities (divided by neighborhood sections) and name all the inhabitants living there at a certain time period or year.
It is a good way to discover and explore whole family units and close relatives (cousins, uncles, aunts, grandparents and so on).
Each page of these census records lists one family after another living in the same neighborbood.
You can find the household head's full name (who is often the father but sometimes a widow too), his/her approximate age , his/her native village or city, his/her occupation and his/her marital status.
On the following line, you will encounter the spouse's full name.
Women were usually known and named after their birth names, not their husband's name.
If the couple already had children at the moment the census took place they were also listed below with their parents' double surnames (the first name of the father and the first name of the mother make the children's new surnames and this changes at each new generation).
This way, it is easier to identify who was who, who was a father, who was the child and to guess the names of a generation coming before another.
On the bad side, you won't always get full dates of birth and that is not ideal, only estimated ages (with an error margin of +/- 2 years) for the people you find and put on a time frame.
For some of them, you will perhaps later find a birth certificate, after 1870, but that doesn't happen every time. Either because the so-called birth certificate had never established before or just because you could not find it online yet.
You can also have bad surprises when you browse a whole book of records and expect to find births for a certain year but don't find any. In a book of records covering the years 1869 to 1895 I just found the three same years from 1869 to 1871 coming back all the time and nothing else for the other years.
Here is a sample of a Spanish census record page (source : Padrón General de Almería 1560-1900 hosted on familysearch.org website)
Hospital records are other interesting paths that are worth exploring.
I would like here to quote an excellent Spanish website called AFIGEN, it is a Spanish-written blog which lists many interesting paths and links which will maybe help you find your Spanish ancestors from Andalusia. Click on the following link and start exploring !
Thanks to this kind of data indexes I was able to find this morning a person I was looking for in a hospital record with her parents and her maternal grandparents listed in it.
Juana Moreno Rodriguez (daughter of the second pregnant woman listed below named Pilar) was actually born on June 29, 1911. Her mother went to San Francisco hospital to give birth to her child but died there the day after her daughter was born.
This document called Registro Nacimientos dated 1911 (Almería) is extracted from a book recording all entries and exits of pregnant women who went there to give birth in San Francisco Hospital in Almería:
-on the left of the entry date, under the Nombre section you will find all the information concerning the mother : her name, her marital status, the name of her husband if she was married, her parents' names and the mention "multipara " if she had already given birth to other children.
-on the right of the word Salida, the exit date (or death date if by some bad luck the mother had died after giving birth) and under the "Dió a luz" section you will get to know if the baby born was a male child or a female child, sometimes his / her first name and the time he / she was born.
-farther on the right, a column for more comments.
Notarial records (or protocoles notariales in Spanish)
- Notarial records are very valuable genealogical resources with all kinds of information in them.
Beyond the fact that you will learn where a person came from or who his parents and relatives were you will get much more information on his life course. His commercial transactions will let you know if he was a rather poor or a well-off person during his lifetime or will give you information on his occupation or his apprenticeship, the conflicts or the agreements he had with his neighbors ...
If you know the name of the lawyer or notary's office who was in charge of your ancestors' properties papers you may also discover who were the heirs and read their wills if they had left one.
You can browse through a huge collection of Spanish notarial records for many provinces of Andalusia but it will require a lot of time researching, taking notes and reading.
Here is below a short extract of a several-pages notarial record dated January 17, 1908 and made in the city of San Fernando in the Cádiz province.
Genealogical ressources available on familysearch.org
It is not really accurate to state that the Mormons digitized all records in Spain.
That is true for some Spanish civil records, for census records, notarial records, passport lists ...
and only some church records of a few Spanish regions. You will be luckier if you research one of the following regions : Barcelona, Gerona, Salamanca, Ciudad Real, Murcia, Segovia, Santander, Avila, Cartagena and Albacete.
As far as Andalusia is concerned you won't be so lucky ... just because you won't find any church records available online (at least at the time speaking it is still so ...) !!!
Here is a sample of the genealogical resources indexed and hosted on familysearch.org for Spain :
Genealogical resources and historical records on Portal de Archivos Espanoles (PARES)
Many of the above genealogical resources can be attached to historical records or photos.
The website is in Spanish but it is really worth visiting. So, click on the link below :
Investigate your family first and search civil records
-Before you start researching your ancestors, try to gather as much information as possible on your grandparents or great grandparents. Think about asking and noting down their double surnames (most Spanish people have two) for each one of them, the accurate dates and places of birth.
-Don't start with just some vague and uncertain information. If you have to learn one thing while doing Spanish genealogy research it is to have the most accurate information available to start with.
If you just have a birth year for instance you will have to spend hours researching, browse thousands of record pages especially if your ancestors were born in a big city.
- If you live abroad (outside of Spain) think about requesting online from the Ministerio de Justicia the civil records of the ancestors you need.
The online request is usually free but you will have to fill in a form with all the names and accurate event dates (birth, marriage or death event).
-From the moment you have all your grandparents' record copies in hand you can start researching their parents and grandparents and trace back all their other ancestors in any of the following sources : civil records, census records, notarial records and so on ...
Well, this little genealogical tour of Andalusia is over for today ...
If you take this genealogical challenge you will probably come across obstacles, you will find it hard and long and it will sometimes end up in brick walls.
But imagine how grateful it can become ...
...when you finally trace back some branches and find precious information on your ancestors' lives.
If you take a look below... you will notice a tree I am currently working on for a young man who is from Andalusia. The tree starts with his masked grandparents on the left.
The research in the Andalusian archives first led me to San Fernando and Puerto Real, two places very close to the city of Cádiz. The different lines of the tree then led me elsewhere in Andalusia , to places farther east, like Jerez de la Frontera or Medina Sidonia etc.
Useless to say that this research work is not over and will still require long hours of research and a lot of patience ...