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Puerto Rico Catholic Church Records - FamilySearch Historical Records

Puerto Rico

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Puerto Rico, Catholic Church Records, 1645-1969
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Puerto Rico
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Record Description
Record Type: Church
Collection years: 1645-1969
Languages: Spanish
Title in the Language: Puerto Rico, Registros de la Iglesia Católica
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
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Paróquias Católicas, Puerto Rico


What is in This Collection?

This collection includes records of Catholic Church baptisms, confirmations, marriages, and burials for the years 1645-1969. Indexes were created in several church parishes of Puerto Rico.

At the time of the creation of the records in this collection, the Catholic Church in Puerto Rico was divided into several dioceses, including the Diocese of Puerto Rico, which was erected in 1511. The diocese's name was changed in 1924 to the Diocese of San Juan de Puerto Rico. In 1960, the diocese was elevated to archdiocese with the name of Archdiocese of San Juan of Puerto Rico. Other dioceses listed in this record’s collection are the Diocese of Ponce (erected in 1924), the Diocese of Arecibo (erected in 1960), and the Diocese of Caguas (erected in 1964). Since the time period of this collection, two more dioceses have been erected: the Diocese of Mayaguez (erected in 1976) and the Diocese of Fajardo-Humacao (erected in 2008).

These records were handwritten in Spanish by the priest in charge of the jurisdiction where the event took place. Most of the records are written in narrative style. Depending on the priest, some records have more information than others.

Image Visibility

Whenever possible FamilySearch makes images and indexes available for all users. However, rights to view these data are limited by contract and subject to change. Because of this there may be limitations on where and how images and indexes are available or who can see them. Please be aware some collections consist only of partial information indexed from the records and do not contain any images.

For additional information about image restrictions see Restrictions for Viewing Images in FamilySearch Historical Record Collections.

Reading These Records

These records are written in Spanish. For help reading them see:

If you speak Spanish, the following free online lesson may be helpful to learn how to use the information in these records:

To Browse This Collection

You can browse through images in this collection using the waypoints on the Collection Browse Page for Puerto Rico, Catholic Church Records, 1645-1969.

What Can These Records Tell Me?

The following information may be found in these records:

Baptismal

  • Date and place of baptism
  • Child's name and gender
  • Child's legitimacy
  • Child's date and place of birth
  • Parents' names, their origin and residence
  • Names of grandparents

Confirmation

  • Name of confirmed
  • Date of confirmation
  • Place of confirmation
  • Names of parents
  • Names of godparent(s)

Marriage

  • Date and place of marriage
  • Groom's name, age, marital status and origin
  • Names of groom's parents
  • Bride's name, age, marital status and origin
  • Names of bride's parents
  • Names of witnesses

Death/burial

  • Name, age and gender of deceased
  • Date and place of death
  • Parents' names and their origin and residence
  • Sometimes, name of spouse, if married
  • Sometimes, burial information

Collection Content

Sample Images

How Do I Search This Collection?

Before using this collection it is helpful to know:

  • Your ancestor's given name and surname
  • Identifying information such as residence
  • Estimated marriage or birth year

Search the Index

Search by name on the Collection Details Page.
  1. Fill in the search boxes in the Search Collection section with the information you know
  2. Click Search to show possible matches

View the Images

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:

  1. Select Municipality
  2. Select Parish
  3. Select Record Type and Years to view the images.

How Do I Analyze the Results?

Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images. Keep track of your research in a research log.<

What Do I Do Next?

I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?

  • Add any new information to your records
  • Use the marriage date and place as the basis for compiling a new family group or for verifying existing information
  • Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth of each partner to find a couple's birth records and parents' names
  • Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth to find the family in census records and establish a migration pattern. This link describes the Puerto Rico Census
  • Use the residence and names of the parents to locate civil records. This link takes you to the online records of Puerto Rico, Civil Registration - FamilySearch Historical Records
  • Compile the marriage entries for every person who has the same surname as the bride or groom; this is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual
  • Regarding marriage and death records, name changes, shortened names, or nicknames may have been used by your ancestors, so pay attention to other relationships (parents, spouse, siblings, children, etc.) that can confirm whether you have the right person/record
  • Continue to search the marriage records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives of the bride and groom who may have married in the same county or nearby. This can help you identify other generations of your family or even the second marriage of a parent. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify
  • Use the marital status to identify previous marriages (whether a divorce or death dissolved a marriage)
  • Witnesses often were relatives of the parents

I Can’t Find the Person I’m Looking For, What Now?

Add advice about alternate records, search methods, locations, etc. For example:

  • Check for variants of given names, surnames, and place names. Transcription errors could occur in any handwritten record; also, it was not uncommon for an individual be listed under a nickname or an abbreviation of their name. Click here for a list of Spanish name abbreviations
  • Search the records of nearby locations. In the period of this collection, few individuals ever lived more than 20 miles from their place of birth, though smaller moves were common
  • A boundary change could have occurred and the record of your ancestor is now in a neighboring state or region, or your ancestor immigrated to another country. Search the records of nearby areas or immigration/emigration records
  • Puerto Rico, Civil Registration - FamilySearch Historical Records

Research Helps

The following articles will help you in your research for your family in Puerto Rico.

Known Issues

Click here for a list of known issues with this collection.

Citing This Collection

Citations help you keep track of places you have searched and sources you have found. Identifying your sources helps others find the records you used.

Collection Citation:
The citation for this collection can be found on the Collection Details Page in the section Citing this Collection.
Record Citation:
When looking at a record, the citation can be viewed by clicking the drop-down arrow next to Document Information.
Image Citation:
When looking at an image, the citation is found on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen.

How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?

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