Saturday, January 31, 2009

Are There Genealogy Research aids in Spanish?

The home base for my local genealogical society, the Chula Vista Genealogical Society, is located about 5 miles north of the US-Mexico border. The population of Chula Vista is about 50% Hispanic, which is typical of cities near the US border with Mexico. The local library has a fine selection of books in Spanish, but no genealogy research books.

Why is that? Apparently, there are no books on genealogy research available in Spanish. At least I haven't found any online. If you know of one, especially oriented towards research in Mexican records, please let me know!

Therefore, our genealogy society is paralyzed when someone comes into the library looking for help on genealogy research in the Spanish language. We have several members fluent in Spanish, but all of our resource material is in English.

This situation came to our attention on Monday when a young lady, a resident of nearby Tijuana, visited the genealogy section of the library during our Table Talk hours. She could speak English fairly well, and we tried really hard to understand her, but she couldn't read English. Her Spanish was excellent, of course, but none of us are fluent in Spanish. That's when we figured out that we needed a genealogy research book in Spanish!

While at the San Diego Family History Center today, I asked the staff if they have any genealogy books in Spanish. No, they didn't but they did have some handouts in Spanish, and they gave me several to take and use, which I really appreciate!

I emailed two Hispanic genealogy experts this past week asking questions about Hispanic genealogy research in Spanish. They weren't aware of any books in Spanish, but one said that the Family History Library is working on genealogy aids in Spanish. Perhaps this is along the lines of the Research Outlines for Mexico and Latin America. That would be a tremendous improvement!

There are several useful Hispanic genealogy web sites in Spanish - notably, and I'm sure there are more. If you know of one, please email me ( or tell me in comments.

It turns out that our library collection doesn't have any books about Hispanic genealogy research in English either, so we need to correct that flaw also.

As all genealogy societies prepare for the expected surge of interest in genealogy as a result of the Who Do You Think You Are? TV show in April, they should take inventory of their collection and skill sets to determine what should be added in order to serve their communities. For CVGS, it will be obtaining books that inform our local demographic in both Spanish and English and in both written and oral form.


Drew Smith said...

I haven't actually looked at this one yet, although my local library has a copy:

Con nombres y apellidos : cómo localizar a nuestros antepasados, published in 1999 and written by José Luis Sampedro Escolar

DearMYRTLE said...

Ol' Myrt here has some suggestions for you Randy.

Lynn Turner, AG has a Spanish language genealogy blog at:

My friend Jonathan Walker is happy to help, and he is bi-lingual. Find him at:

There is an English language newsletter edited by my friend Mimi Lozano titled Somos Primos:

FamilySearch Indexing has a Spanish language interface, for those who wish to follow the directions in Spanish. Volunteering to do this would greatly enhance the collection of Spanish language indexed images.

I've also written a few blog entries with ideas for English/Spanish research :

Eileen said...

There may be copies in Spanish if the books were published and sold in a spanish-speaking country. But they would need to be purchased from in the country. The authors would know if any of their books got published in Spanish.

Unknown said...

There are certainly genealogical resources in Spanish and many genealogical publications in Spanish, particularly for Northern Mexico where the majority of the Latinos in the United States will be able to trace their ancestry.

The following site has a large bibliography of Mexican genealogy publications, all in Spanish:

The Sociedad Genealogica del Norte de Mexico has a very good online guide for beginners that is generic, i.e. applicable to any geography and completely in Spanish:

Our group, Nuestros Ranchos, which is completely bilingual has a number of resources available for download, as well as links to many online resources. A search through the forums will also yield a wealth of collective knowledge of experienced genealogists, much of it in Spanish: