Tabasco, Mexico Genealogy

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Guide to State of Tabasco ancestry, family history and genealogy: birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, parish registers, and military records.

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Most of your genealogical research for Tabasco will be in two main record types: civil registration and church records. This article will teach you methods for locating and searching these two record groups.

History[edit | edit source]

The Spanish did not begin to pacify the area until the second half of the 16th century, when Santa María de la Victoria was secured, slightly inland from the original Frontera location. However, in the meantime, the English had taken possession of the nearby Isla del Carmen and other points in the Gulf for piracy. In the beginning of the 18th century, Tabasco and Veracruz united to combat the pirate threat, and succeeded in expelling them. The first insurgent during the Mexican War of Independence in the state was José María Jiménez, who declared the state's independence in 1815. However, Jiménez was soon jailed and local authorities proclaimed allegiance to the Crown. The first state constitution was ratified in 1825. In 1883, the state was divided into seventeen municipalities. The struggle between Liberals, who wanted a federal government, and Conservatives, who wanted a centralized government, played out in Tabasco with various skirmishes between the Liberals and the Conservatives. In 1829, the military in Campeche revolted against Mexico City and proclaimed its own government. Shortly after, Tabasco joined the movement and proclaimed a Conservative government.
During the French Intervention in Mexico, the French took Villahermosa in 1862 installing a governor. Tabasco forces retreated into the mountains. There were several skirmishes in 1863 when a small army was raised from various parts of the state and attacked the imperial army barracks in Comalcalco then moved onto Villahermosa in November 1863. Here they encountered imperialist troops where the insurgents won, expelling the French from the state.
Another important episode in the history of the state was the governorship of Tomás Garrido Canabal after the end of the Revolution who was elected in 1922, He implemented an ambitious socialist program, organizing unions and consolidating power though his Radical Socialist Party.

How to Find the Town of Origin in Mexico[edit | edit source]

To search the records effectively, you need to know the town in Mexico where your ancestor lived. For a checklist of sources to search for that information, use Mexico Locating Place of Origin.

Also, see these two online classes:

Civil Registration[edit | edit source]

  • Civil registration records are government records covering birth, marriage, and death. They are an excellent source of names, dates, places, and relationships.
  • Civil authorities began registering births, marriages, and deaths in 1859, and most individuals who lived in Mexico after 1867 are recorded. Because the records cover such a large percentage of the population, they are extremely important sources for genealogical research in Mexico. Initially, the Mexican populace, accustomed to registering its vital events with the local parish church, opposed the register. It was not until the republic was restored in 1867 that civil registration was vigorously enforced.

Find the Municipality for Your Town[edit | edit source]

  • You will need to know the town where your family lived and to which municipio the town belonged. This gazetteer will help you find the municipio level for your town.
  • For many localities, digital copies of civil registration can be searched online. Also, the Family History Library has microfilmed civil registration for many states of Mexico. Currently, Tabasco has not been microfilmed or digitized. Check back from time to time to see if that has changed. In the meantime, you have two options: 1) writing for the records to a local registration office, or 2) base your research church records. Most vital events were recorded both in civil and church records.[edit | edit source]

Writing for Civil Registration Certificates[edit | edit source]

Civil registration records in Mexico can be obtained by writing to the local civil registry in the municipality. Civil officials will generally answer correspondence in Spanish. Your request may be forwarded if the records have been sent to state archives. This method is not always reliable. Officials might or might not respond.

Each state now has a central civil registration office to which you can write for information. The address of the state civil registration office for the Tabasco is:

Dirección General del Registro Civil del Estado de Tabasco
Secretaría de Gobierno
José N Rovirosa s/n, 1er Piso, Esquina Nicolás Bravo, Centro
Villahermosa, Tabasco CP 86000
Tel (993) 312-0163, 312-6418 y 312-0549

  • You can also write to the local town registrar. Write a brief request in Spanish to the proper office using this address as a guide, replacing the information in parentheses:
Oficino del Registro Civil
(postal code), (city), Tabasco

Send the following:

  • Money for the search fee, usually $10.00
  • Full name and the sex of the ancestor sought
  • Names of the ancestor’s parents, if known
  • Approximate date and place of the event
  • Your relationship to the ancestor
  • Reason for the request (family history, medical, and so on)
  • Request for a photocopy of the complete original record

Write your request in Spanish whenever possible. For writing your letter in Spanish, use the translated questions and phrases in this Spanish Letter-writing Guide.

Church Records[edit | edit source]

Although civil registration records are an important source for genealogical research in Mexico, many births, marriages, and deaths were never recorded by civil authorities; therefore, you must use church records to supplement this genealogical source.

The vast majority of Mexicans were Catholic and were registered in entries for baptisms, marriages, deaths, and burials in the local church records. Often two and sometimes three generations are indicated in the registers, with personal information on the family. Church records are the main source prior to 1850, when civil registration began. After this date one should search in both church and civil records, since there may be information in one record that does not appear in the other. For instance, the church records may only list the godparents, while the civil records may list the grandparents.

1. Online Digital Records for Church Records[edit | edit source]

For some localities, digital copies of Catholic church records can be searched online:

Bautismos are infant baptisms, which are used for birth information. Información matrimonial are documents collected in preparation for a marriage. Matrimônios' are marriages. Defunciones are deaths. Entierros are burials'". Índice is the index.

2. Microfilm Copies of Church Records in the FamilySearch Catalog[edit | edit source]

If the locality and time period you need are not included in the online records, the next step is to find them in the microfilm collection of the Family History Library. Currently, they are being digitized, and plans are to complete that project by 2020. Check back occasionally to see if your records have become available. In the meantime, some of them might be available at a Family History Center near you.
To find a microfilm:

a. Click on this link to see a list of records for Mexico, Tabasco.
b. Click on "Places within Mexico, Tabasco" and a list of towns and cities will open.
c. Click on the town or city you wish to search.
d. Click on "Church Records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
e. Choose the correct event and time period for your ancestor.
f. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the microfilm listed for the record. FHL icons.png. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the microfilm.

3. Writing to a Catholic Priest for Church Records[edit | edit source]

Baptism, marriage, and death records may be searched by contacting or visiting local parish or diocese archives in Mexico. Mexico has no single repository of church records. Write your request in Spanish whenever possible. This method is not always reliable. Officials might or might not respond.

Write a brief request in Spanish to the proper church using this address as guide replacing the information in parentheses:

Reverendo Padre
Parroquia de (name of parish)
(postal code), (city), Tabasco

When requesting information, send the following:

  • Money for the search fee, usually $10.00
  • Full name and the sex of the ancestor sought
  • Names of the ancestor’s parents, if known
  • Approximate date and place of the event
  • Your relationship to the ancestor
  • Reason for the request (family history, medical, and so on)
  • Request for a photocopy of the complete original record

Write your request in Spanish whenever possible. For writing your letter in Spanish, use the translated questions and phrases in this Spanish Letter-writing Guide.

Reading the Records[edit | edit source]

  • Detailed instructions for reading Spanish church records, examples of common documents, and practice exercises for developing skills in translating them can be found in the Spanish Records Extraction Manual.

These guides are also helpful:

  • "How to" Guides:
    • Inserting Special Characters
    • Catholic Church Records
    • Reading Spanish Handwritten Records
    • Reading Baptism Records
    • Reading Marriage Records
    • Reading Death Records

Tips for finding your ancestor in the records[edit | edit source]

  • Births were usually reported within a few days of the birth by the father of the child, a neighbor, or the midwife. A search for a birth record should begin with the known date of birth and then searching forward in time, day by day, until the record is found. It might be found within a few days of the actual birth date, but in some instances, it might be weeks or months later. Birth, marriage, and death records are often indexed by given name or surname.

  • The Catholic Church continued keeping records after the creation of the civil registration in 1859. Therefore two types of records are available for the marriages. Be sure to search both records. With the separation of church and state in Mexico, formalized by the 1917 constitution, civil authorities determined that for couples to be legally married they had to be married by the state. Because of the close affinity of the Catholic Church and the state authorities, this rule was not always followed, and church weddings were accepted by the state. Normally, however, couples were married by civil authorities prior to a church wedding. On rare occasions they were married civilly after a church wedding.

  • Some municipios are small and therefore only have one civil registration office, but there are other larger municipios that have several sub civil registration offices that report to the main municipio office. These sub civil registration offices are all listed under the municipio seat. For example, in Tabasco the municipio of Cajeme covers a large geographical area and has had ten sub civil registration offices at different times. These offices have been or are now in the following cities: two in the city of Ciudad Obregón and one each in Cumuripa, Esperanza, Cocorit, Providencia, Pueblo Yaqui, El Realito, Oviachic, and Buenavista. All of these offices are listed under Cajeme, with a "see" reference indicated by an arrow from the sub-civil registration office to Cajeme. A person looking for civil registration for Cocorit will be referred to Cajeme by the "see" reference or arrow. However, other records such as church records or censuses, will still be listed under Cocorit. Hence, to search all the records the library has for Cocorit you will need to search under two listings: Cajeme for civil registration, because Cocorit civil registration records are listed under Cajeme, and Cocorit for church records because the church records are listed under Cocorit.

  • Death records can be particularly helpful for people who may not have had a civil birth or marriage record but died during the period when civil registration had begun.

Search Strategy[edit | edit source]

  • Search for the relative or ancestor you selected. When you find his birth record, search for the births of his brothers and sisters.
  • Next, search for the marriage of his parents. The marriage record will have information that will often help you find the birth records of the parents.
  • You can estimate the ages of the parents and determine a birth year to search for their birth records.
  • Search the death registers for all known family members.
  • Repeat this process for both the father and the mother, starting with their birth records, then their siblings' births, then their parents' marriages, and so on.
  • If earlier generations (parents, grandparents, etc.) do not appear in the records, search neighboring parishes.