Have Mexican roots? My sons’ Mexican ancestors came to the United States in the early 20th century so while there are some familiar sources I can use to add information to that family history such as US naturalizations and census records, I also need to extend my research across the border after just a few generations. Starting research in a country you are not familiar with or don’t read the language can be intimidating but there are a few websites that can help get you started.
Mexican Genealogy is the website of Moises Garza who has put together resources for “Mexican genealogy and its Spanish colonial period.” Make sure to check out his Mexican Genealogy Resources by State to find links to records, repositories, and more. When I checked one of the states for my research, Chihuahua, I found links to Catholic Church records, Facebook groups, history and repositories. Under the Community link found in the top green toolbar you can also find links to Facebook groups by Mexican state. Remember, that Facebook genealogy groups are great places to crowdsource research problems and learn more about genealogical research from those who have experience in that research. Lastly, if you love books like I do, check out Mexican Genealogy’s Book page for resources to add to your bookshelf including the 2nd edition of Garza’s Mexican Genealogy Research Online: A Guide to Help You Discover Your Ancestry.
Genealogical Society of Hispanic America
I’m a big believer in the value of genealogy societies. Between the educational opportunities and networking, societies are a great place to learn more and ask questions. There are a number of societies that meet your research needs that cover a specific place your ancestor lived but you may also want to consider a topical society like the Genealogical Society of Hispanic America.
What’s the benefit of joining this society? A yearly conference and publications allow you to learn more about genealogy and history. What I appreciate most about their Nuestras Raices journal is the case studies that allow you to understand how other researchers have tackled their genealogical brick walls. If you’re lucky enough to live near one of the society’s chapters in Pueblo, Colorado; Los Angeles, California; or Salt Lake City, Utah, you can take advantage of meetings and local event opportunities. If you need help with your research, talking to like-minded researchers can be an important step in learning more about your family history.
Mexican Geneaogy Guide
I’m a big fan of librarian and genealogist Colleen Robledo Greene and her Mexican Genealogy Guide which has some great resources to get your research started in the United States and Mexico. There’s so much to love here including help with identifying your immigrant’s hometown, specific record collections, and what to do if you don’t find your ancestor in those collections. She even mentions the Legacy Webinar on Finding Your Roots In Catholic Records by Lisa Toth Salinas which is vital since as she points out “having a solid understanding of those records is essential to doing good genealogy.” What I love about Colleen’s Guide is that she includes not only genealogical information but also social history sources which are so important to understanding your ancestor’s life, the records that document their lives, and the times they lived in. Colleen’s website also includes Guides for Evernote and Hispanic Genealogy.
So often we just dive into our research, hoping that typing in a name, date, place will yield us the results we seek. But it’s important to do your homework before you dive in. The websites above can provide you much needed resources. Once you understand what you need for your research, consult the FamilySearch Research Wiki for Mexico Genealogy for more resources and links to record collections.
Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.