Argentina Cultural Groups

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Argentina has had many ethnic minorities including Armenians, French, Germans, Irish, Italians, Japanese, Jews, Poles, Spaniards, Swiss, and Welsh. It's important to learn the history of the ethnic, racial, and religious groups your ancestors belonged to. For example, you might study a history of the Jews in Argentina, Germans in Argentina, the Welsh in Patagonia, or French in Esperanza, Santa Fe. This historical background can help you identify where your ancestors lived and when they lived there, where they migrated, the types of records they might be listed in, and other information to help you understand your family's history.

Few immigrants came to Argentina before 1800, but with the independence and after the defeat of Juan Manuel de Rosas, Argentina opened the door to Europeans. Under Justo Jose de Urquiza, incentives were made to encourage immigration for the benefit of the country. One of the first incentives was to create agricultural  colonies, providing all the necessary land, tools, and animals to ensure success for the new colonies. In addition, the government was to respect the beliefs and culture of the new immigrants. They encouraged and helped the immigrants get established in farming, industry, and commerce. Later the government helped establish churches in the new colonies.

For some minorities in Argentina there are some unique records and resources available. These include histories, gazetteers, biographical sources, settlement patterns, and handbooks. In the following paragraphs only some of the major minority groups of Argentina are mentioned. Some references and overview are given, but this is not a comprehensive overview of any of the minorities mentioned.

An example of a book on minorities is:

  • Hagen, William W. Germans, Poles and Jews: The Nationality Conflict in the Prussian East, 1772-1914. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980. (FHL book 943 F2hw.)

The Family History Library collects records of these groups, especially published histories. These are listed in the FamilySearch Catalog Place Search under:




Other sources are also in the Subject Search  of the FamilySearch Catalog under the name of the minority, such as Jews, Germans, or Irish. Some sources are listed under:


Armenians[edit | edit source]

Armenians have been present in Argentina in small numbers since the colonial times. Small groups continued to come after 1860, settling in Buenos Aires and the other cities. These early immigrants participated in military, commerce, and business.

When political turmoil prevailed in their home land in the early 1900s the Armenians, they began to immigrate in force. Because of restrictions preventing immigration to the United States, many immigrated to Argentina. In 1913 the Armenian institution, Unión General Armenia de Beneficencia, (General Union of Armenians of Kindness) was created in Buenos Aires. The early Armenians became prominent in textiles with some rug factories in Corrientes, three plastics factories in Villa Ballester, a shoe factory in Marash, and some commerce factories in Mendoza, along the stripe between the suburb of Once from Rivadavia to Viamonte and from Junín to Pueyrredón. Each of these trades became big business in Argentina. The Armenian Catholic Church in Buenos Aires began with Father Kazezián of the Misión Armenia Catolica. Records of the Armenian Catholic Church in Buenos Aires start in 1925. There is also an Armenian Catholic parish in Córdoba.

Protestant Armenians belong to either the Iglesia Evangélica Congregacional Armenia (Church of the Armenian Evangelical Congregationalists) or the Iglesia Evangélica Armenia (Church of Armenia Evanglicals).

For further reference see:

  • Binayán, Narciso. La Colectividad Armenia en la Argentina. (The Armenian Community in Argentina.). Buenos Aires: Alzamor Editores, 1974. (FHL book 982 B2b.)

French[edit | edit source]

The French came in much smaller numbers than the Spaniards and Italians. They were here early in the history of Argentina, being well organized within their communities. They created many organizations that helped them keep their culture alive, including the following:

Association Française Philanthropique et de Beinfaisance du Rio de la Plata was founded in 1832. This association was created to help the french in their daily lives and to help run the French hospital that was established in same year.

Chambre de commerce Française en République Argentine (French Chamber of Commerce in the Republic of Argentina) founded in Buenos Aires in 1884. The chamber of commerce helped the French in business transactions.

Alliance Française de Buenos Aires (French Alliance of Buenos Aires) founded in 1893 to help the families keep the French cultural and language in the home. This institute taught the students the french culture. The Alliance established schools through out Argentina.

Centre Basque Français (French Basque Center) was established in 1895 by the French Basque to maintain their culture.

Association Française de Secours Mutuels de Buenos Aires (French Association of Mutual Help of Buenos Aires) was founded in 1859 under the name of La Française (The French), this organization helped the give medical attention and subsidies to older people. Newspapers have been published in French in Argentina since 1791.

A book that gives reference to some of the French and German families that settled in the Esperanza area is the following:

  • Gori, Gastón. Familias fundadoras de la colonia Esperanza. (Founding Families of the Colony of Esperanza). Santa Fe, Argentina: Librería y Editorial Colmegna, 1974. (FHL book 982 A1 #20.)

Germans[edit | edit source]

Some of the early Mennonite missionaries came to Argentina in 1917 making their first parish in Pehuajo, 300 miles southwest from Buenos Aires.

After 25 years, the Mennonite mission consisted of 25 parishes, which spread around the northeastern provinces, with a large treasury. With these monies they were able to build churches, schools, hospital, orphanage and retirement homes, and a small printing office which printed The Mennonite Voice.

A special committees governed these institutions.

Some of these early Mennonites came from Canada and after being in Argentina, they returned to Canada. For the most part, however, those who immigrated stayed.

The Germans (Mennonites from Russia, and Catholics and Lutherans from Germany) settled in the larger region of Buenos Aires with most of their colonies in Buenos Aires and Entre Rios. A good map that gives reference to these colonies is found in:

  • Stumpp, Karl. Karte der russlanddeutschen Siedlungen in Südamerika:Brasilien, Paraguay, Uruguay und Argetinien. (Maps of the Russian–German Settlements in South America: Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina). Germany: Stumpp, 1962. Scale 1:680,000. (FHL map 947 E7sf; film 1183657 item 1.)

Immigration index cards were filmed in the archives of Koblenz. These index cards are arranged alphabetically by surname for German–speaking emigrants from Russia to Argentina, China, North America, and elsewhere.

They may provide information on place of origin, state of allegiance, birth and death date and place, religion, date of emigration, destination abroad, profession; full name of spouse, birth and death date and place, place and date of marriage; names, birth places and dates of children, and their residences and spouses’ names. Information may be incomplete. Following are references to these indexes:

  • Deutsches Ausland –Institut (Stuttgart). Auswandererkartei von Russlanddeutschen nach Argentinien: 1870–1945 (Emigration Card Index of Russian–Germans to Argentina: 1870–1945). Koblenz: Bundesarkiv, 1988. (FHL film 1552795 item 4.)

Irish[edit | edit source]

The Irish were among the early people to come to Argentina as soldiers and missionaries in the early colonial times. As with other groups, they later established their own communities and services to help promote their culture. Some good references for information on where they settled and there history are the following:

  • Murray, Thomas. The Story of the Irish in Argentina. New York: J.P. Kennedy, 1919. (FHL film 1279286 item 2.)
  • Coghlan, Eduardo Antonio. Los Irlandeses: apuntes para la historia y la genealogía de las familias Irlandesas establecidas en la República Argentina en el siglo XIX (The Irish: Notes on the history and genealogy of Irish families Established in the Republic of Argentina in the 19th Century). Buenos Aires: Clancy y Cíal, 1970. (FHL book 982 f2c.)
  • Coghlan, Eduardo A. Los Irlandeses en la Argentina: su actuación y descendencia. (The Irish in Argentina: Their Doings and Descendants.) Buenos Aires: Abraxas, 1987. (FHL book 982 D2ce.) This book is indexed and has short genealogies of the Irish families in Argentina.
  • Coghlan, Eduardo Antonio. El Aporte de los Irlandeses a la formación de la nación Argentina.(Contributions of the Irish in forming the nation of Argentina). Buenos Aires: Imprents El Vuelo de Fénix, 1982. (FHL book 982 W2c.) This book includes the Irish that are registered in the passenger list in the Archivo General de al Nación 1822/1862 and in the published listed from the newspaper The Standard 1863–1880, listed in alphabetical order by surname and date of arrival. It also includes the Irish in the 1855 census of Buenos Aires, and the 1869 and 1995 census of several of the provinces of Argentina where the Irish settled, listing only the Irish.

Italians[edit | edit source]

The Italians were in Argentine during colonial times. However large waves of Italians did not come to Argentina until after 1850. About 80% to 90% of the present-day Argentinians have Italian ancestry. As with other groups, the Italians have established many different types of institutions to help keep the Italian culture alive in Argentina.

Among these institutions are hospitals (the first in Buenos Aires in 1853), social clubs, a chamber of commerce to help the Italian populace, and schools.

There are good histories that relate the history of the Italians in Argentina. The Family History Library also has some immigration records that lists people who came into Argentina:

  • Valais (Suisse:Canton. Conseil D’Etat. Documents divers concernant l’émigration el les autres papiers du Conseil d’Etat, 1829–1902 (Diverse Documents Concerning the Emigration of the Other Papers of the Privy Council, 1829–1902). Sion, Suisse: Arcives du Canton, 1983. (FHL film 1344039–1344045.) This record has some of the Valadesien who  immigrated into the area of Rio de la Plata.
  • Sergi, Jorge F. Historia de las Italianos en la Argentina:Los Italianos y sus descendientes a través del descubriemento de América y de la historia Argentina (The History of the Italians in Argentina: The Italians and Their Descendants Throughout the Discovery of America and the History of Argentina). Buenos Aires: Editora Italo Argentina, 1940. (FHL book 982 F2i; film 0908853 item 2).

Jews[edit | edit source]

By 1936 there were many Jews in Argentina, most coming from Russia and Poland. They settled in Buenos Aires, Rosario, La Plata, Corrientes, Tucumán, Salta, Santa Fe, and Mendoza. As war continued throughout the world addition waves of Jews came into the country. Although the numbers were great in the beginning of the immigration waves, Jew have intermarried and some have assimilated into the general populace. At times the Sephardic and the Ashkenazic groups have had to join together for worship, yet they try to maintain their separated congregations only joining together when the need arises. The Jewish community is strong in Argentina with many businessmen and tradesmen contributing the growth of the country.

It is estimated that at present there are more than 300,000 Jews in Argentina today. For references on the Jews check the following:

  • Avni, Haim. Argentina and the Jews: a history of Jewish immigration.Tuscaloosa: the University of Alabama Press, 1991. (FHL book 982 F2a.)
  • Lewin, Boleslao. La colectividad Judía en la Argentina (The Jewish community in Argentina). Buenos Aires: Alzamor Editores, 1974. (FHL book 982 F2Le.)

Welsh[edit | edit source]

Beginning in 1865 many Welsh settlers left Wales and settled in Argentina. For additional details see: The History of the Welsh Settlement in Patagonia

Native Races[edit | edit source]

About 250,000 Indians may have lived in what is now Argentina when the first Europeans arrived in the 1500s. By the late 1800s, many Indians had died of European diseases or had been killed by Europeans. Many others intermarried with Europeans, producing a mestizo population. There are still a few Indians left in the regions of Chaco, Formosa, La Puna de Atacama, and la Patagonia.

Most of these Indians had accepted the nation’s lifestyle. Few maintain themselves alone and separate.

The Spaniards created the reducciones, which were Indians missions or small villages, usually run by the Jesuits or Franciscan, for the protection of the Indians. Some of the early reducciones were established in the northeast of the country in Concepción, Candelaria, San Javier, Apóstoles, Santa Ana, La Cruz, Santo Tomé, San Miguel, San Ignacio Mini, Corpus, Tubichmini, and Santiago del Baradero. Others were established later. Some of these reducciones were successful, but others were short lived.

The Family History Library does have Indians censuses in the collection for Argentina. Some of these are censuses of the Indian populations who lived in old tax district of Misiones province in the viceroyalty of La Plata. This district is now part of Missiones province, Argentina. Old Misiones province also included the modern states of Paraguay and Uruguay:

  • Padrones, 1657–1801 (Censuses, 1657–1801). Buenos Aires: Archivo General de la Nación, 1992. (FHL film 1840693–840702, 1840706.)

Censuses were also taken of the Indian populations who lived in some of the old tax districts of the Viceroylty of La Plata. Census documents that form part of the "Interior" collection of the Argentine National Archive in Buenos Aires include:

  • Padrones, 1780–1807 (Censuses, 1780–1807). Buenos Aires: Archivo General de la Nación, 1992. (FHL film 1840704–5, 1840707–9.)

Spaniards[edit | edit source]

The Spanish people have been in Argentina since the beginning of colonial times. After the independence of Argentina from Spain, immigration to the country slowed down considerably. In the middle to late–1800s Spaniards again started to immigrate to Argentina in large numbers. Today many Argentinians have Spanish ancestry. Some books about the Spaniards in Argentina are:

  • Monner Sans, Ricardo. Los Catalanes en la Argentina (Catalans in Argentina). Buenos Aires: Imprenta y Casa Editora "Coni", 1927. (FHL book 982 F2mc.)

Actas de licensia para ausentarse en ultramar:

  • 1845 – 1931 ( Licenses granted for residence outside of Spain: 1845–1931). La Coruña, Spain: Archivo Municipal de Betanzos, 1993. (FHL film 1881381.)

These records list permission given to the people from the municipality of Betanzos for emigration to places outside of Spain, primarily to Cuba and Argentina. Berenguer Carisomo, Arturo. España en la Argentina: ensayo sobre una contribución a la cultural nacional (Spanish in Argentina:

  • Essay on a Contribution to the Culture of Argentina). Buenos Aires: Club Español, 1953. (FHL book 982 F 2e.)