Versión de Español / Castellano
I've been helping a friend with his family history/genealogy over the last three or four weeks. The family I have been helping research immigrated to Argentina during the late 1800s. It's been interesting to see that all lines are actually Spanish - rather unusual. It's been said that Argentines think they are German who are Italians that speak Spanish.
The family I've been working on had varying degrees of information linking the lines back to Spain. Some lines had specific towns, while other lines have proved a little more difficult. Over the next few weeks I will discuss the different lines, which come from Salamanca, Galicia, and Asturias, and the different ways I went about finding the immigrants' places of birth. Hopefully it will give you some ideas and additional resources to use.
For those of you that don't know Galicia is located in the extreme northwest corner of Spain directly above Portugal. Galicia is made up of four provinces: La Coruña, Orense, Pontevedra, and Lugo. There are four Catholic dioceses in the region as well: Santiago de Compostela, Lugo (learn how to get involved in the Lugo diocese indexing project), Mondoñedo-Ferrol, and Tui-Vigo.
The family information that I started with said that one of the family lines came from the town of Guísamo. That was good information, however, family information can sometimes be incorrect. It is a good rule of thumb to double-check the information before you begin searching records earnestly. I started with map sites and also municipal sites (it's a good idea to work with gazetteers or geographical dictionaries too).
Here are a couple of map sites to get you started:
1. http://www.pueblos-espana.org - see archived blog post about this site.
2. http://www.mapquest.com - great all around map - great for driving directions too.
3. http://www.viamichelin.com - wonderful map site - very detailed.
Here are a couple of sites to help you find municipios and to help you determine record collections.
1. http://www.dicoruna.es - links out to every municipal archive in the province of La Coruña.
2. http://depontevedra.es -find the links to the Municipal archives and the Juzgados de la Paz. The site provides detailed inventories of all these archives in Pontevedra with contact information. Note: I did not use this site during this research session, but thought I would share it anyway - it's too valuable not to. The same type of sites should be used for Orense and Lugo.
Using the map sites mentioned above and also visiting the La Coruña diputación site (listed above) I determined that Guísamo was in the municipio of Bergondo. I grabbed the email address to the municipio archive and sent off an email asking two things: 1) Do you have any records in your archive that I could use in my research? I did provide detailed information on what I was looking for. 2) Could you give me the email address to the Juzgado de la Paz of Bergondo?
The archivist at the Bergondo municipio archive explained to me that they had census records for the municipio beginning in 1877...and by the way she looked up the family for me. She found the family I was looking for in the 1877 and 1878 censuses. She also forwarded my email to the Juzgado de la Paz, who responded to me via email giving me birth information on four different children. I subsquently sent the Juzgado my mailing address and a few weeks later had photocopies of all the birth certificates the archivist had identified. Note: Spain national civil registration began in 1871.
The information in the census records and the birth certificates verified the family information I had been given. The family lived in Guísamo, however, it gave me even more information too. I also got the birth places of the parents of the children and the birth places of their grandparents. This quickly helped me determine where I needed to go to continue the research (not all were born in Guísamo).
After gathering all the place information I could from the available records I visited the Santiago de Compostela diocesan archive website (listed above). The Santiago diocese has a neat little search option that allows you to search for any parish in the diocese. I quickly found out that parish records for Guísamo existed, however, they were not in the diocesan archive like most parish records, but they were in the actual parish archive of Guísamo. I did the same thing with the other parishes identified in the census and birth certificates and found that some were in the diocesan archive and others were in parish archives. This information will be helpful when I'm visiting the archives in person, or if I'm corresponding with the archives via email or telephone.
I know that I haven't provided a lot of different websites, however, there are plenty out there. Here are a couple more that cover the Galicia region in general that you might find useful.
1. Arquivo da Emigración Gallega - I used this site, however, no one responded to my inquiry.
2. http://foros.xenealoxia.org - forums are always good places to find contacts in the genealogical community. Next week I will discuss how a forum helped me find another one of my friend's family lines in Asturias.
I hope that you find these handful of websites useful in your research. Understanding that there are only a few listed here, it should be noted that some of them link out to many more that may benefit you in your research. I should also note that I looked at a lot of other sites, and sifted through many others to find these gems. If you know of any other valuable sites for doing Galicia, Spain genealogy please share them with others in the comments section.