When researching your ancestors in Mexico, the best place to start is with records of birth, marriage and death.
Civil Records in Mexico (1859 - present)Civil registration records in Mexico are government-required records of births (nacimientos), deaths (defunciones) and marriages (matrimonios). Known as Registro Civil, these civil records are an excellent source of names, dates and vital events for a large percentage of the population living in Mexico since 1859. The records are not complete, however, as people did not always comply, and civil registration wasn't strictly enforced in Mexico until 1867.
Civil registration records in Mexico, with the exception of the states of Guerrero and Oaxaca, are maintained at the municipio level. Many of these civil records have been microfilmed by the Family History Library, and can be researched through your local Family History Center. Digital images of these Mexico Civil Registration Records are starting to be made available online for free at FamilySearch Record Search.
You can also obtain copies of civil registration records in Mexico by writing to the local civil registry for the municipio. Older civil records, however, may have been transferred to the municipio or the state archive. Ask that your request be forwarded, just in case!
Church Records in Mexico (1530 - present)Records of baptism, confirmation, marriage, death and burial have been maintained by individual parishes in Mexico for almost 500 years. These records are especially useful for researching ancestors prior to 1859, when civil registration went into effect, although they may also provide information on events after that date that can not be found in the civil records.
The Roman Catholic church, established in Mexico in 1527, is the predominant religion in Mexico.To research your ancestors in Mexican church records, you'll first have to know the parish and city or town of residence. If your ancestor lived in a small town or village without an established parish, use a map to find nearby towns with a church that your ancestors may have attended. If your ancestor lived in a large city with several parishes, their records may be found in more than one parish. Begin your search with the parish where your ancestor lived, then expan the search to nearby parishes, if necessary. Parish church registers may record information on several generations of the family, making them an extremely valuable resource for researching a Mexican family tree.
Many church records from Mexico are included in the Mexican Vital Records Index from FamilySearch.org. This free, online database indexes almost 1.9 million birth and christening and 300,000 marriage records from Mexico, a partial listing of vital records covering the years 1659 to 1905. Additional indexes of Mexican baptisms, marriages and burials from selected localities and time periods are available on FamilySearch Record Search, along with selected Catholic Church records.
The Family History Library has most Mexican church records prior to 1930 available on microfilm. Search the Family History Library Catalog under the town in which your ancestor's parish was located to learn what church records are available. These can then be borrowed from and viewed at your local Family History Center.
If the church records you seek are not available through the Family History Library, you'll need to write directly to the parish. Write your request in Spanish, if possible, including as many details as possible about the person and records you seek. Ask for a photocopy of the original record, and send a donation (around $10.00 usually works) to cover research time and copies. Most Mexican parishes accept U.S. currency in the form of cash or a cashier's check.