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El Salvador Finding Records

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El Salvador Gotoarrow.png Finding Records

To find church, civil or other records for your ancestor in El Salvador you will need to know the various levels of jurisdictions (government or religious administrative divisions) in El Salvador. Only three locality levels are normally used. The country of El Salvador is divided into departments (departamentos), municipalities (municipios), and cities, towns, villages, etc.

Municipality[edit | edit source]

Under the Municipality levei (Municipio), you will find civil registration records. A Municipality covers an area that may contain several towns with the headquarters usually located in the largest one. A large city may contain several Municipalities. You will need to determine the correct Municipality in order to locate the civil registration records.

To figure out your Municipality, check the following sources:

On genealogy records, places are usually written from smallest to largest with the Municipio not being listed. For example:

  • City/town, Department, Country
  • Arcatao, Chalatenango, El Salvador

The city of Arcatao is located in the Chalatenango department of El Salvador.

Church[edit | edit source]

Catholic Church records are listed by city or town and then by parish. A parish is an ecclesiastical jurisdiction and is usually named for a Saint. A parish covers an area that may contain several towns and is usually located in the largest one. A Large city may contain several parishes.

To figure out the Catholic parish, check the following sources:

  • Check a Catholic Church directory. It will list the archdiocese officials and the dioceses with their parishes, so you can easily determine all nearby parishes. It may include historical information about each parish, and sometimes it provides addresses for parishes, the diocese headquarters, and the diocese archives where additional records may be kept.
  • If your ancestor lived in large city, you will need to know what parish within that city they belonged to. If you know what part of the city they lived in, that will help narrow down the possibilities. However, people sometimes attend the closest church or the one that the rest of their family attends. So you might have to check nearby parishes also.
  • If your family lived in a very small village, you might have to check a map, church directory or gazetteer to determine the location of the parish.

On genealogy records, the parish is listed as the smallest unit before the city or town. For example:

  • Parish, City/town, Department, Country
  • San Juan Bautista, Cojutepeque, Cuscatlán, El Salvador
The parish of San Juan Bautista is located in the city of Cojutepeque, in the Cuscatlán department of El Salvador.

Records from FamilySearch[edit | edit source]

  • The Civil Registration Records have been indexed. You can search for your ancestor by typing in their name. Or you can also do a manual search, the records are located by department, then by municipality.
  • The Catholic Church Records have not been indexed. A manual search is the only option. The records are located by department, then by parish or else by department, then by municipality, then by parish.
  • There are a few other El Salvador records that can be searched. Some are digitized and some are not.

For additional help see also El Salvador Quick Start Guide