Puerto Rico Finding Town of Origin

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Finding Town of Origin

Finding the Town of Origin[edit | edit source]

In order to research your family in Puerto Rico, it is essential that you have identified the place where they came from. You must know the city, town, or parish that they came from. it will be difficult to identify the place of origin by going directly to dutch sources. Therefore, you will need to search in United States (or other country of arrival) sources first.

Important Tips[edit | edit source]

Before you can begin to search in the records of Puerto Rico you must find that one record that gives the name of his or her hometown. You must also know enough about the ancestor to positively identify him in the records. Dates (even if they are approximate), places, and familial connections are key to helping you decide if a person you find, who has the same name as your ancestor, really is your ancestor.

  • Do you know the name of his/her parents?
  • Do you know his/her birth, marriage, or death date or can you calculate an approximate range of years to search for his/her birth, marriage, or death?
  • Do you know the name of the spouse? Did they marry before or after coming to the United States?
  • Do you know the names of any of his/her siblings?
  • Do you know the names of any children born in Puerto Rico?

Documents in the Home[edit | edit source]

Often the document you need to pinpoint the place of origin of your ancestor from Puerto Rico is already found at home. These might include the following:

  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage certificates or licenses
  • Death certificates
  • Obituaries
  • Funeral cards
  • Journals
  • Photographs
  • Letters
  • Family Bible
  • Naturalization papers
  • Citizenship papers
  • Military service records

Emigration Questions to Ask Relatives[edit | edit source]

Find the oldest living relatives that you can and ask them:

  1. What do you know about our first ancestor to come from Puerto Rico? (open-ended)
  2. Have you ever heard mention of towns in Puerto Rico where the family lived?
  3. Do you have contact with any relatives in Puerto Rico?
  4. Do you have contact with other branches of the family in the U.S.?
  5. When _____________ came from Puerto Rico, did he travel with other family members?
  6. Do you know when _________________ arrived and which port city?
  7. Did _______________ever become a citizen?
  8. Did_________________fight in World War I or II?
  9. When they first came, were there already family members here who they joined?
  10. Did_______________ever mention their parents in Puerto Rico?
  11. Were they Catholic?
  12. Do you have any old letters or postcards from your Puerto Rico family?
  13. Do you have any pictures of family members in Puerto Rico?

Search Genealogies Compiled by Others[edit | edit source]

Puerto Rico Records[edit | edit source]

Civil Registration[edit | edit source]

Births, marriages, deaths, indexes and other records created by civil registration offices in Puerto Rico. Some records may date prior to 1885 as a few municipalities began civil registration before that date. Some of these records have been indexed and are searchable as part of this collection.

  • Many names will be very common, so be careful about accepting the first entry with the same name. Look for other facts that prove the identity--the same birthdate of birthplace, the same parents, et.
  • If you don't see a great match, don't accept a partial match. The exact record you need may not have been indexed yet.
  • If you know the town, you can browse the actual images to find the record, if it has not been indexed yet.

Example: Here is the information, both the index entry and the original record. The original record will give more information, notably here the father's and grandfathers' names.
Screen Shot 2018-10-15 at 4.17.09 PM.png PR CR birth.png

U.S. Census of Puerto Rico[edit | edit source]

There are indexed U. S. census records for Puerto Rico online from 1900 to 1940. The 1900 census, however, only lists U.S. military servicemen. If your ancestors were living in Puerto Rico during this time, find them in every possible census. You will thus identify the exact town they lived in at that time.

Example: This census entry for Maria Elena Cruz gives also her parents' names(Fernando Cruz and Guiliermina Rivera), and two of her sisters (Hortensia and Alexandrina). It shows that in 1921 the family was living in Hato Puerco, Loiza, Puerto Rico.

PR census.png

Records to Search Created in the United States[edit | edit source]

Vital Records[edit | edit source]

Vital records, or civil birth, marriage, and death records document important events in an ancestor’s life. Many states have posted statewide indexes on the Internet. Understand that any birth, marriage, or death certificate gives information about other people besides the primary person it is about

  • 1. It is important to remember that a birth certificate for a child might tell it's parents' birthplaces.
  • 2. Marriage certificates might name birth dates and places of the bride and groom. They might also give the names and birth places of the parents of the bride and groom.
  • 3. Death certificates are very important. Birth and marriage certificates might not have kept by a state during the earlier years of your ancestor's life. There is a greater chance that your ancestor died after detailed record-keeping began. Death certificates frequently state birth date and place. They also state the names of parents and their birth places.

Mainland U.S. Records[edit | edit source]

There are wiki articles giving details on how to find vital records of each state.

Example: This death record shows the birthdate, the Puerto Rico birthplace, and the parents' names of the deceased:

Death record PR birth.png

Example: This marriage record gives the Puerto Rico birthplace of the groom, the names of his parents, and their Puerto Rico birthplace.

Marriage record PR birth.png

Cemetery Records[edit | edit source]

Websites such as FindAGrave and Billion Graves are making it easier to get information from headstones, which frequently give birth dates, and occasionally give birth places. Each state has additional collections of cemetery records. See U.S. Online Genealogy Records by State for links to other online cemetery records. Every state also has a Cemetery topic page you can search, for example, California Cemeteries, Washington Cemeteries. etc.

Example: This FindAGrave record gives the Puerto Rico birth date and place. The attached obituary names his wife and children.

PR findagrave.png

Obituaries[edit | edit source]

Obituaries are an excellent source of biographical information about immigrants. In addition to names and death dates, you can learn about surviving family members, church affiliations, spouses, parents, occupations, burial places, and hometowns in the old country. Even if a place of origin is not given, an obituary may provide additional research clues, such as the date or ship of immigration or traveling companions. Much of this information cannot be found in other sources. For many immigrants, an obituary is the only “biographical sketch” ever written about them. See U.S. Online Genealogy Records by State for links to online obituary collections. If the town of death is known, Google newspapers in that town and contact them to see if they kept archives of their obituaries.


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Social Security[edit | edit source]


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Military Records[edit | edit source]

Draft records for World War I and II ask for birth place, which can be listed as just Puerto Rico or in greater detail.

Example: World War I Draft Registration:

WWI draft PR.png

Example: World War II Draft Registration:

WW II PR.png

Passport Applications[edit | edit source]

Example: This passport application gives the birthdate, the Puerto Rico birthplace, the father's name, and the father's birthplace.

PR Passport app.png