PARES, The Portal de Archivos Españoles

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PARES the Portal de Archivos Españoles is a free website that allows the user access to the inventories of Spanish archives as well as many others throughout Latin America. Its stated purpose is to:

  • Share the rich heritage of Spanish historical documents.
  • Spread information about projects from Spanish archives.
  • Offer free access to any interested person.

One of the most used searches is for documents (Documentos). In the search box enter the name of the person or other search terms you wish to search for. Click on Buscar to commence the search.

Search tips:[edit | edit source]
  • The search engine does not distinguish between capital and small letters.
  • Accents or tildes are not necessary.
  • Common words and prepositions such as: la, los, de, a, and con, are also not considered by the search engine.
Advanced search (Búsqueda avanzada) options include the following:[edit | edit source]
  • Con todas las palabras (with all the words): Your search results will include all the words you have placed in this field but not necessarily in the same order.
  • Con la frase exacta (with the exact phrase): Your search results will include only results that include the exact phrase you have entered in this field.
  • Con alguna de las palabras (with some of the words): Your search results will include some but possibly not all the words you have placed in this field but not necessarily in the same order.
  • Sin las palabras (without the words): Your search results will exclude any that contain the words placed in this field.

For example, searching with the words Álvaro Figueroa in the Con la frase exacta field will not allow any search results that might have the two names separated such as Álvaro y Figueroa. With the words Martin Gimenez in the Con todas las palabras field will return all results where the two names appear, not necessarily in the order entered. If you added Conde de Romanones in the Sin las palabras field the search results will exclude any result where Álvaro Figueroa appears with the phrase Conde de Romanones.

The advanced search also includes filters which allow you to choose records by their descriptive indexes (Índices de Descripción), producer (Productor), archive where they are located (Archivo), date (Fecha), and if they are digitized (Digitalización).

Some of the most commonly used archives for family history research with which you can filter your results include the following:

Archivo General de Simancas

Records held at this archive generally cover the time period 1450 to 1850s. They include documents regarding the royal family, nobility and early military records. These early military records include some from the Spanish colonial period in the Americas.

Archivo de la Real Chancillería de Valladolid

Records held here include proofs of hidalgo status, demands and claims to titles, and lawsuits. These records mainly cover that area in Spain found north of the Tajo river.

Archivo Histórico Nacional

Located in Madrid, this archive has among its vast holdings records from religious military orders, records of government employees, the section Ultramar which covers Cuba, the Philippines and Puerto Rico, and records from the Inquisition. They also receive archives and documents from other organizations.

Archivo General de Indias

This archive holds records from the Spanish colonization period including early passenger lists and licenses to travel to the new world. They also hold judicial records from the various regional colonial courts (audiencias) and records of titles of nobility granted in Latin America.

Archivos Históricos Provinciales

Among the documents you might expect to find here are notarial records for the various provinces throughout Spain except for Madrid and Guipúzcoa which have special Archivos Históricos de Protocolos. You can also find many other records.

Other Tools[edit | edit source]

Agenda del Investigador[edit | edit source]

The Agenda del Investigador (online notebook) allows you to save references, records, and keep notes online. To use this feature, you will need to register for a free account. Once you’ve created your account you can log in and create themes (Tema) or subject titles in which to save your findings. You must create a theme before you can save a document to your agenda. The agenda is located at the top of the right sidebar on the home page.

Censo Guía[edit | edit source]

This is an online guide or directory for the archives of Spain and many in Latin America. To access the Censo Guía, scroll down the home page and look for the tile Censo Guía. Click on it. There are several search options.

  1. Búsqueda por Directorio de Archivos (Search by archive directory)
  2. Búsqueda por Mapa (Search by map. This is in beta and not quite fully functional)
  3. Búsqueda por Fondos documentales (Search by document holdings)
  4. Búsqueda por Autoridades (Search by authority)

The easiest to use is option one. Using option one Búsqueda por Directorio de Archivos you can choose the category of archive (Categoría), the geographic area (Área Geográfica), the country (País), the autonomous community (CC.AA./1a División), if you have chosen the country of Spain. You can also then choose the province (Provincia/2a División) and the municipality (Municipio). Choose the category of archive based on the kind of information you are looking for. Among the options are judicial (judiciales), notarial (notariales), municipal (municipales), religious (religiosos), district (comarcales), provincial (provinciales) and many more.

Once you have narrowed down your options, you will see a name or list of names that fit the criteria you’ve selected. This information will include contact information for that archive as well as a website, if any. For example, if I wanted to find an archive for the province of Navarra, I could choose Archivos Generales y Centrales, then the geographic area and country of Spain, the Autonomous community of Navarra and the province of Navarra. This would lead me to the entry for the Archivo Real y General de Navarra. The entry includes the address, phone number, email address, and the website for this archive.

Descubre Más (Other databases)[edit | edit source]

There are also many other databases found through PARES. These can be accessed from the home page by clicking on the tile Descubre Más. Take the time to explore each of these to see what can be found. They include the following:

Searching for an immigrant from the 19th or 20th century?[edit | edit source]

If so, you may want try searching Movimientos Migratorios Iberoamericanos. The database includes names of immigrants from all around Latin America. To view a list of its sources, click on the tab Fuentes. To search the database, click on the tab Buscar.

The search engine includes various search options. If you do not read or understand Spanish use Google Chrome’s translate the page feature for a translation. This can be accessed by using the web browser Google Chrome and while on the page, right click and choose the option to translate the page to English. This database is not complete but is one source you will want to try when searching for an immigrant who left Spain during this time period.


To learn more about archives in Spain and Latin America, see Tracing Your Hispanic Heritage by George R. Ryskamp (Riverside, California: Hispanic Family History Research, 1984).