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Guide to Ávila Province ancestry, family history and genealogy: birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, parish registers, and military records.

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Most of your genealogical research for Ávila will be in two main record types: civil registration and church records. This article will teach you methods for locating and searching these two record groups.

History

Ávila is a province of central-western Spain, in the southern part of the autonomous community of Castile and León. It is bordered on the south by the provinces of Toledo and Cáceres, on the west by Salamanca, on the north by Valladolid, and on the east by Segovia and Madrid.

The area of the province was conquered by the Romans around 192 B.C. After the Roman Empire fell, the area became part of the Visigothic Kingdom, and it is from this period we have many of the earliest records of the towns of Ávila.[1]

Civil Registration

  • Spanish civil registration records (government birth certificates, marriage certificates, and death certificates) began in 1871.
  • Births, marriages, and deaths were recorded by the local Juzgado de la Paz, or Oficinia del Registro Civil. The records are still housed in their local municpal archives. In addition, Spain does have a national index or central repository for civil registration.
  • Some municipios (towns/cities) may have civil registration records beginning as early as 1837. Some of them have been microfilmed and/or digitized by FamilySearch.
  • Larger cities may have multiple civil registration districts, and smaller towns may have their own civil registration office, or belong to an office of a nearby town. To determine the political jurisdiction for the town where your ancestors came from, please see the Spain Gazetteers article.

Here are several different approaches to obtaining these certificates:

1. Online Civil Registration Records

Search FamilySearch Historical Records and the FamilySearch Catalog for Ávila to see if there are online civil registration records for this area. If no records are available, order a certificate from the Ministerio de Justicia or write to the Municipality Civil Registry Office.

2. Microfilmed Civil Registration Records in the FamilySearch Catalog

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Microfilmed copies of Civil Registration records are often available and are being digitized for online access in the FamilySearch Catalog. Some images can only be viewed at a family history center. Find your closest Family History Center.
To search the FamilySearch Catalog:

a. Click on this link to see a list of records for Spain, Ávila.
b. Click on "Places within Spain, Ávila" and a list of towns and cities will open.
c. Click on the town or city you wish to search.
d. Click on "Church Records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
e. Choose the correct event and time period for your ancestor.
f. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the microfilm listed for the record. FHL icons.png 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.

3. Ordering Certificates From the Ministerio de Justicia

  • Researchers can solicit the Ministerio de Justicia online for copies of certificates.
  • For detailed information on how to order these records online, please see the article Order Spain Vital Records Online. It will take you through the process step by step, and includes translation of terms you will find in that process.

4. Writing to the Civil Registry of a Municipality

NOTE: All lines of the international delivery address should appear in all capital letters. If possible, the address should have no more than five lines. For more information see USPS International Mail Manual.

  • Juzgado de la Paz (Court of Peace) or Oficina Registro Civil (Civil Registry Office) should be contacted if the online request for the certificate copy to the Ministerio de Justicia fails.
  • The complete address for the Civil Registry Office, including the postal code and other contact information for the towns/cities listed on the Registro Civil—Municipios for the Province of Ávila (Civil Registry—Municipalities) page appears after you select the town/city. Write or email a brief request in Spanish for the certificate copy using the address format below:

Address Format

Example for the city, Adanero

OFICINA REGISTRO CIVIL
(DIRECCIÓN=STREET ADDRESS)
(Código Postal=postal code)(LOCALIDAD=CITY)
ÁVILA
ESPAÑA
Tel.: +34 (9 digit phone#)
Fax: +34 (9 digit Fax#)
Email: (email address)
JDO. 1ª INSTANCIA E INSTRUCCIÓN Nº 1
SANTA MARÍA, 2
05200 ARÉVALO
ÁVILA
ESPAÑA
Tel.: +34 920 301 311 or +34 920 301 297
Fax: +34 920 301 451
Email: mixto1.arevalo@justicia.es

  • Write a brief request to the proper office. Send the following:
    • Full name and the sex of the person sought.
    • Names of the parents, if known.
    • Approximate date and place of the event.
    • Your relationship to the person.
    • Reason for the request (family history, medical, etc.).
    • Request for a photocopy of the complete original record.
    • Check or cash for the search fee (usually about $10.00).

Write your request in Spanish whenever possible. The Spanish Letter-writing Guide will help you with organizing your letter and phrasing your requests in Spanish using the translated questions and phrases.

Catholic Church Records

  • Catholicism's roots extend deep into Spain's history. Parish and diocesan records created by the Catholic Church in Spain have long been considered some of the richest genealogical records in the world. Ever since the Council of Trent, Catholic parish records have been consistently recorded, usually providing three generations in a single baptismal entry.
  • The vast majority of Spaniards are Catholic, and so almost every Spaniard can be found in the records of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church was the primary record keeper of births, marriages, and deaths, until civil registration started in 1869.
  • Some church records have been lost or have deteriorated due natural disasters such as fire, flood, and earthquakes. Civil and political strife has also caused record loss, including during time of the Spanish Civil War.
  • The Catholic Church has created several different records. The most used in genealogical research include: baptisms (bautizos, bautismos), marriages (matrimonios), and burials (entierros, defunciones, fallecimientos). Other records include: confirmations (confimaciones) and pre-marriage investigations (expedientes matrimoniales, información matrimonial).
  • Tip: If you are researching after 1869, when Civil Registration started in Spain, both church and civil records should be searched since there may be information in one record that does not appear in the other.

1. Online Church Records

2. Microfilmed Church Records in the FamilySearch Catalog

Icon-warning.png

Microfilmed copies of Church records are often available and are being digitized for online access in the FamilySearch Catalog. Some images can only be viewed at a family history center. Find your closest Family History Center.
To search the FamilySearch Catalog:

a. Click on this link to see a list of records for Spain, Ávila.
b. Click on "Places within Spain, Ávila" and a list of towns and cities will open.
c. Click on the town or city you wish to search.
d. Click on "Church Records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
e. Choose the correct event and time period for your ancestor.
f. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the microfilm listed for the record. FHL icons.png 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.

3. Writing to Request Catholic Church Records

NOTE: All lines of the international delivery address should appear in all capital letters. If possible, the address should have no more than five lines. For more information see USPS International Mail Manual.

  • Baptism, marriage, and death records may be searched by contacting or visiting local parish or diocese archives in Spain. Write your request in Spanish whenever possible. This method is not always reliable. Officials may or may not respond.
  • The Province of Ávila in the Castile and León Autonomous Community is in the Diócesis de Ávila. Write or telephone to inquire whether the diocese holds the parish records:

EXCMO. SR. OBISPO DE ÁVILA
PLAZA DEL TENIENTE ARÉVALO, 5
05001 ÁVILA
ÁVILA
ESPAÑA
Tel.: +34 920 353 900
Fax: +34 920 211 073
Email: comunicacion@diocesisdeavila.com

  • When requesting information, be brief and write the request in Spanish. Please include the following:
    • Money for the search fee, usually $10.00
    • Full name and the sex of the ancestor sought
    • Names of the ancestor’s parents, if known
    • Approximate date and place of the event
    • Your relationship to the ancestor
    • Reason for the request (family history, medical, and so on)
    • Request for a photocopy of the complete original record

Write your request in Spanish whenever possible. The Spanish Letter-writing Guide. will help you with organizing your letter and phrasing your requests in Spanish using the translated questions and phrases.

Reading the Records

  • 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. Reading handwriting skills are taught in the BYU Spanish Script Tutorial.
  • Online interactive slideshow lessons are available to help you learn to read these records:

Tips for finding your ancestor in the records

Effective use of church records includes the following strategies.

  • Search for the birth record of the relative or ancestor you selected. When you find his birth record, search for the births of his brothers and sisters.
  • Then, search for the marriage of his parents. The marriage record will often help you find the birth records of the 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 family members.
  • Then repeat the process for both the father and the mother.
  • If earlier generations are not in the record, search neighboring parishes.

References

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Province of Ávila," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Province_of_Ávila (accessed August 31, 2020).