Sunday, June 11, 2017

Puerto Rico Catholic Church Records - Uploaded!

So the day has finally come where FamilySearch has uploaded more of the church records for Puerto Rico!! I am super excited because this means that I can now search these records from home instead of having to order the microfilm, go into the city, and reserve a computer to see the records. Though it isn't that bad, it's still very time consuming and sometimes it's super difficult to get into the city and go at the times they are open. So how do I find these records, you ask?

If you enter into the typical "Catholic Church Records" you'll notice that the number is still at 191, 547 images which is the number it has always been but there is another way to find the record. I imagine one day these new files will be uploaded or attached to this tab but for now you will have to go another way.

FamilySearch Catalogs section [FamilySearch]

In order to find these records you have to enter the "Catalog" tab on the FamilySearch website. From there, you will find on the left hand corner the "place" tab. If you enter a town for example like "Yabucoa" you will notice there will be two mentions. One is "Puerto Rico, Yabucoa" and the other is "Puerto Rico, Yabucoa, Yabucoa". The former is the link to the Puerto Rican Civil Registry while the latter is the link to the Puerto Rican Catholic Church records. When you click on the second one you will be taken to another page. Notice that not all churches will appear for all towns in Puerto Rico, there are some towns that refused to be microfilmed which fell under the decision of the Archdiocese of that section. So towns like San Sebastián, Mayagüez, Añasco, Quebradillas, etc. will not appear here because the LDS church was not allowed to microfilm their church records.

Yabucoa, Puerto Rico Catholic Church records [FamilySearch]

Once you have clicked on the Catholic Church tab you will be taken to the different records available for that church and town. Notice here that there are various records for Yabucoa such as nacimientos (births), matrimonios (marriages), and defunciones (deaths). On the right hand side you will see a column called "format" and various camera icons. The camera means that the records are available for searching online. Once you click on the camera you will be taken to the regular search pages of FamilySearch, for example below you will see what pops up: 

Yabucoa, Puerto Rico Catholic Church records [FamilySearch]

Many of the churches around this time do not have indexes for the records and the conditions really vary as well as other variables like handwriting, page/name visibility, etc. Some churches are much easier to peruse while others will take some time figuring out. For example, Yauco's records are very clear to read for the most part, but other churches have damaged pages which makes reading a huge issue. 

This part of the search will be the longest since you will have to search most pages one by one for the ancestor you are looking for. It is good to have year estimates for the ancestor you have in mind or even "windows" of time for hen that person was born, married, or died. So far I have been able to find a few marriage records for ancestors in Maunabo as well as some baptism records in Yauco for other ancestors. These records have taken these branches back to the 1700s on my family tree which is pretty awesome! 

Good luck to all of those interested in searching! 
Happy Hunting [Google]