Guatemala Church Records
|Guatemala Wiki Topics|
|Local Research Resources|
For information about records for non-Christian religions in Guatemala, go to the Religious Records page.
- 1 Catholic Church Records
- 1.1 Definition
- 1.2 Time Coverage
- 1.3 Information Contained in Church Records
- 1.4 Locating Church Records
- 2 Protestant Church Records
- 3 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Records
- 4 Reading the Records
Catholic Church Records[edit | edit source]
This was the predominant religion for many years, probably the earlier years where you are searching for ancestors. In addition, many records are online.
Definition[edit | edit source]
Church records (registros parroquiales) are excellent sources for accurate information on names, dates, and places of births, marriages, and deaths. They are often referred to as parish registers or church books. They include records of christenings, sometimes including a birth date; marriages; deaths; and burials. Church records may also include account books, confirmation records, and lists of members (padrones).
Time Coverage[edit | edit source]
Church records were kept from the mid-1500's to the present. Civil registration began in 1877, after which time you can use both record sources to support each other.
Information Contained in Church Records[edit | edit source]
Baptismal Records[edit | edit source]
Names, surnames; dates and places of birth; date of baptism; names and surnames of parents, grandparents and godparents; sometimes race.
Marriage Records[edit | edit source]
Names and surnames of both groom and bride with dates and places of birth; residence, publication of admonitions or marriage bands, names and surnames of parents and witnesses; some times race and information of previous marriages.
Marriage Information[edit | edit source]
The marriage information document can consist of several parts. This document is sometimes three or four pages long. It includes an introduction that states the intent of marriage and sometimes the date of the banns. The marriage banns were announced on three separate occasions. These announcements, gave opportunity for anyone to come forward who knew any reasons why the couple should not be married.
The marriage information will then include personal information on the bride and groom. They may include the following:
- name of bride/groom
- whether they are single or widowed
- place of residence
- sometimes place of birth
- parents’ names
- sometimes grandparents’ names
If this is a second marriage for one of them, it will give the name of the deceased spouse and how long he or she had been deceased. If the bride or groom was from another parish, documents will be enclosed showing good standing in that parish. These documents can include baptismal records and references to banns that were publish in another parish.
The records may also show a dispensation (exemption from restriction of marriage) for the fourth degree of blood relationship, indicating that bride and groom were related. If this is the case genealogical graphs and interesting biographical information about the families involved will be included. This will sometimes give you a line of ascent up to the common progenitors.
Two to four witnesses were then listed who testify of the good standing of the bride and groom. This may include the witnesses’ age, occupation, and residence as well as how long they have known the bride or groom. The witnesses may be related to the bride or groom.
Generally there is a last note stating the date of marriage or if they did not get married.
Death or Burial Records[edit | edit source]
Name and surname of deceased; date of death and place of burial; sometimes date and place of birth; name and surname of parents or spouse, other family.
Confirmation Records[edit | edit source]
Name, age; name and surname of parents; date and place of confirmation.
Extract Forms[edit | edit source]
The following extract forms were created by Dr. George Ryskamp, JD, AG. These particular forms are designed to be used for Spanish research; however, they can help in other research areas, such as Italy, France, Portugal, etc. Click on the type of record form you would like to use and print it for your own files.
These forms are designed to help you quickly analyze and organize your documents. They can become a personal index for your family records.
Locating Church Records[edit | edit source]
Local parishes and ecclesiastical archives: (some in microfilm in the Family History Library); some in the General Archive of Central America, and some in the Archive of the Archbishop, both in the City of Guatemala.
Online Church Records[edit | edit source]
- Guatemala, Catholic Church Records, 1581-1977, FamilySearch, index and browsable images, incomplete.
- Guatemala Baptisms, 1730-1917, index, incomplete.
- Guatemala Marriages, 1750-1930, index, incomplete.
- Guatemala Deaths, 1760-1880, index, incomplete.
- Guatemala, Select Baptisms, 1730-1917, ($), index, incomplete.
- Guatemala, Select Marriages, 1750-1930, ($), index. incomplete.
- Guatemala, Select Deaths, 1760-1880, ($), index, incomplete.
- Guatemala Baptisms, 1730-1917, ($), index, incomplete.
- Guatemala Marriages, 1750-1930, ($), index, incomplete.
- Guatemala Deaths, 1760-1880, ($), index, incomplete.
FamilySearch Historical Records[edit | edit source]
Parishes in Guatemala list and links to church records in the parishes.
FamilySearch Library[edit | edit source]
- a. Click on this link to see a list of "Places within Guatemala" and a list of provinces will open.
- b. Click on "Places within...." for the department list
- c. Click on the department you want.
- d. Click on the town or city you wish to search.
- e. Click on "Church records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
- f. Choose the correct event and time period for your ancestor. "Bautismos" are baptisms. Matrimônios are marriages. Bautismos 1929-1932. "Confirmaciones" are confirmations. "Defunciones" are deaths. "Información matrimonial" are marriage information records. "Índice" is the index.
- g. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the microfilm listed for the record. . The magnifying glass indicates that the microfilm is indexed. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the microfilm.
Writing to a Local Parish[edit | edit source]
For records more recent than the online collections, you can write to the local parish for information. Earlier records can be held at the diocese, with more recent records still kept in the local parish. To locate the mailing address or e-mail address for a diocese or local parish, consult:
Protestant Church Records[edit | edit source]
Historical Background[edit | edit source]
- Roman Catholicism was the official religion in Guatemala during the colonial era and currently has a special status under the constitution. Evangelical Protestantism (Protestants are called Evangélicos in Latin America) and later Eastern Orthodoxy and Oriental Orthodoxy have increased in recent decades. About 42% of Guatemalans are Protestant, chiefly independent Evangelicals and Pentecostals. The Eastern Orthodox Church and Oriental Orthodoxy claim rapid growth, especially among the indigenous Maya peoples.
- Current estimates of the primarily Evangelical Protestant population of Guatemala are around 40 percent, making it the most Protestant country in Latin America. Most of these Protestants are Pentecostals. The first Protestant missionary, Frederick Crowe, arrived in Guatemala in 1843, but Conservative President Rafael Carrera expelled him in 1845. Protestant missionaries re-entered the country in 1882. These Northern Presbyterian missionaries opened the first permanent Protestant church in the country in Guatemala City. Protestants remained a small portion of the population until the late-twentieth century, when various Protestant groups experienced a demographic boom that coincided with the increasing violence of the Guatemalan Civil War.
- According to a Guatemalan Orthodox monastery, Orthodox Christianity arrived in Guatemala at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century with immigrants from Lebanon, Russia, and Greece. In 2010, a religious group which had begun as a Catholic movement was received into the Eastern Orthodox Church and placed under the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Mexico.
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints claims over 255,000 members in 421 congregations in Guatemala. The first member of the LDS Church in Guatemala was baptized in 1948. 
Writing for Records[edit | edit source]
You will probably need to write to or email the national archives, the diocese, or local parish priests to find records. See the Spanish Letter Writing Guide for help with composing letters. See addresses for each religion below.
Evangelical and Pentecostal Church Records[edit | edit source]
The Evangelical Alliance estimates there are more than 40,000 churches in Guatemala, 96 evangelical churches for each Roman Catholic parish.
- Google Maps search results for Pentecostal churches in Guatemala
- Google Maps search results for Evangelical churches in Guatemala
- Google Maps search results for Assembly of God churches in Guatemala
Eastern Orthodox Church Records[edit | edit source]
Iglesia Ortodoxa de Guatemala
2a. Avenida 18-83
Telephone: (+502) 4495 2534
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Records[edit | edit source]
Online Records[edit | edit source]
Online information is available to current members, for deceased members and immediate family members who are still living. Sign in to FamilySearch and then select Family Tree in the drop-down menu.
Historical Background[edit | edit source]
Missionaries arrived in Guatemala in 1947. Assisted by John F. O'Donnal, a Church member living in the country as an agricultural adviser to the United States government, they met with Guatemalan officials and began to organize the Church. The first official meeting was held in a rented building on August 22, 1948, with 66 people in attendance. By 1956, three small congregations with a membership of about 250 had been established. Membership grew to 10,000 by 1966, and 18 years later, in 1984, membership had risen to 40,000. By 1998 membership had quadrupled again to 164,000. Today (2019) membership is 277,755, in 441 congregations. 
Reading the Records[edit | edit source]
- You do not have to be fluent in Spanish to read your documents. Genealogical records usually contain a limited vocabulary. Use this Spanish Genealogical Word List to translate the important points in the document. Handwriting skills are taught in BYU Spanish Script Tutorial.
- Online Learning Center class on reading Spanish handwriting:
- Detailed instructions for reading Spanish records, examples of common documents, and practice exercises for developing skills in translating them can be found in the Spanish Records Extraction Manual.
- The Spanish Documents Script Tutorial also provides lessons and examples.
Catholic church records might also be written in Latin. Use Latin Word List.
Building a Family Record with a Search Strategy[edit | edit source]
Many articles on strategy are available on the Wiki, but here is a simple set of steps to guide you
- Search for the relative or ancestor you selected. When you find his birth/baptism/christening record, then search for the births of his brothers and sisters.
- Next, search for the marriage of his parents. The marriage record will have information that will often help you find the birth records of the parents, and even the names of their parents.
- You can estimate the ages of the parents and determine a birth year to search for their birth records.
- Search the death registers for all known family members.
- Repeat this process for both the father and the mother, starting with their birth records, then their siblings' births, then their parents' marriages, and so on.
- If earlier generations (parents, grandparents, etc.) do not appear in the records, search neighboring parishes.