August 7, 2015

Puerto Rico Census from the 1800's

If you were ever told that census records don't exist for the 1800's then the likelihood is that the person just wasn't aware.  One such group is FamilySearch themselves and they have the records.  I had written to them asking when would the Puerto Rico census records be digitized and uploaded.  The response I received back was extremely telling why no one is aware they are available and why they have not been digitized.

You see when you're using an English website and search for them in English in their catalog such as on FamilySearch, you will not get the results you expect. I went back and forth with their helpdesk advising them that they did have records and them responding that they didn't exist.  So I finally responded back with a link and their response was that of a deer facing headlights in the road. Yes I got total silence for 10 days until I wrote back and asked.

Again I asked when they would be uploaded and unfortunately whomever was working the ticket doesn't do well with reading comprehension or possibly doesn't read at all. After 4 weeks of going back and forth, I got fed up and finally called them. I felt as if I was speaking a foreign language with the individual who was responding to the emails.

Up until this point, I've always felt that those working the ticket system via the website were extremely knowledgeable.  I actually got a better response and clarification when I picked up the phone and called them.  It turns out that they are planning, by the fall, a massive upload which should include these films; please note I said "SHOULD" so that doesn't mean it is going to happen.

If you truly want it to happen then feel free to copy and paste the below list and send emails to put pressure to insure that it will happen.  If you have questions, feel free to post below and I'll try my best to respond to the best of my knowledge. One individual asking isn't enough, we need many to go back and continue to ask.

To give you an example of what the census records look like, I'm posting a few images from the 1860 Census that I took of Trujillo Alto.  Note that Trujillo Alto is actually listed under Carolina and is on the same film as that of the Civil Registration records but not available online.




It was through these census records that I was able to find more ancestors in church books and also determine how many children existed in a family up until 1860. I also have 1870 and 1872 Census records to reference along with 1898.  The reason I took these images with a camera was because it was difficult to nearly impossible to read them on the screen as I was dealing with a broken machine that made them too blurry.  This caused issues in trying to decipher or reading them. With computer software I was able to clean up images and zoom in as much as I wanted without distorting it too much.

The following list is what I found in their catalog. They have census records going back to 1800 on some regions.  You can follow the links for each region as they will open in a new window:

Bayamon, Puerto Rico:
https://familysearch.org/search/catalog/604826?availability=Family%20History%20Library

Caguas, Puerto Rico:
https://familysearch.org/search/catalog/434435?availability=Family%20History%20Library

Another Caguas, Puerto Rico search view:
https://familysearch.org/search/catalog/430460?availability=Family%20History%20Library

Camuy, Puerto Rico:
https://familysearch.org/search/catalog/608263?availability=Family%20History%20Library

Comerio, Puerto Rico:
https://familysearch.org/search/catalog/608849?availability=Family%20History%20Library

Fajardo, Puerto Rico:
https://familysearch.org/search/catalog/609237?availability=Family%20History%20Library

Isabela, Puerto Rico:
https://familysearch.org/search/catalog/609354?availability=Family%20History%20Library

Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico:
https://familysearch.org/search/catalog/612877?availability=Family%20History%20Library

Juncos, Puerto Rico:
https://familysearch.org/search/catalog/609371?availability=Family%20History%20Library

Lares, Puerto Rico:
https://familysearch.org/search/catalog/609597?availability=Family%20History%20Library

Manati, Puerto Rico:
https://familysearch.org/search/catalog/609715?availability=Family%20History%20Library

Ponce, Puerto Rico:
https://familysearch.org/search/catalog/483674?availability=Family%20History%20Library

Rio Grande, Puerto Rico:
https://familysearch.org/search/catalog/609755?availability=Family%20History%20Library

Rosario, San German, Puerto Rico:
https://familysearch.org/search/catalog/427065?availability=Family%20History%20Library

San German, Puerto Rico:
https://familysearch.org/search/catalog/426894?availability=Family%20History%20Library

San Juan, Puerto Rico (Includes Rio Piedras, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Santo Domingo, Puerta de Tierra):
https://familysearch.org/search/catalog/605453?availability=Family%20History%20Library

Toa Baja, Puerto Rico:
https://familysearch.org/search/catalog/606760?availability=Family%20History%20Library
  
Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico (found under Carolina) - Scroll down, first item on list
https://familysearch.org/search/catalog/375143?availability=Family%20History%20Library

Utuardo, Puerto Rico:
https://familysearch.org/search/catalog/609776?availability=Family%20History%20Library

Puerto Rico Censo y Riqueza:
https://familysearch.org/search/catalog/607211?availability=Family%20History%20Library

Finally and most importantly, if and when these images are uploaded, I hope that each of you who visit this page volunteer in indexing these records so that we can easily find ancestors using the search window tools available on the website. Yes it is free but it take volunteers to make this possible. Please do your part in helping preserve our ancestors!

Desktop:  To see other blog posts for your island or country, click on the menu that appears at the top right of this post. It will take you to the page containing posts for your island or country.

Mobile Devices (Smartphone & Tablets):  To see other blog posts for your island or country, at the top of the page, click on the "Most Recent Post", a popup menu will appear, select an option. It will take you to the page containing posts for your island or country. 

25 comments:

  1. I had no idea. I wonder why they are with holding this information, it just doesn't make sense. Thanks for the info.

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    1. I agree! I wish they would upload these images as it would help tremendously with everyone's research!

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    2. Let's not forget they work with records from all over the world. I think Anna is correct when she says we must contact them and ask and keep asking (always in a nice way). I've been researching my PR ancestors since early 80s. Back then we went in carro publico from town to town. Even had to get written permission from archbishop to search San Juan Cathedral records. We've come a long way!!!

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    3. Agree Emma! It is a lot of work but they are starting to add a lot of records and hoping that in the near future we will see a whole lot more online. I posted in the Facebook group today the available digitized census records for Caguas and San German. Also San Lorenzo's is available for 1884. I also posted it in the group. It hasn't posted yet until it gets approved.

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  2. I have one more question. Did you happen to notice if there are any more slave census records for PR? I mean aside from the 1872 one that's already on ancestry.com

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    1. Hi Diana,

      This was the only census done for only slaves. However because Spain required that anyone who entered the island must convert to the Roman Catholic religion, you should be able to locate slaves in church books. Look for the church books dedicated to slaves, morenos and pardos. They were maintained in separate books until 1866 when they were combined.

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    2. You should be able to locate slaves on the other census records. I posted a separate blog about the available census records from the LDS. However I understand that the Archives in San Juan have more census records for the general population.

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  3. Sorry for all the questions but I have one more. Do you think it would be in the Caguas census' that I could find the ones taken for Gurabo, PR?

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    1. Hi Diana,

      No problem with the questions. :)

      As for Gurabo. It all depends on what years you are looking in. The church books are available for Gurabo starting with 1822 but you have to order them. Before you do that, look at my post about church records in Puerto Rico; it will save you money and time.

      Now if you're asking if Gurabo would be included in the 1800 Census for Caguas then they should be since it was a part of Caguas and it used to be called Burabo. It established itself as a municipality in 1815. What years are you looking for someone in Gurabo? What names?

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    2. Oh one more thing. You can read up on where the name came from at the below website, it's in Spanish but it belongs to the municipality of Gurabo. You can copy and paste into Google Translate to help you with translations...just in case you don't read the language. :)

      http://www.municipiodegurabo.com/home/historia/datos-importantes

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    3. Thank you Berry blue, I know this is a late reply but I have so many names from Gurabo. A few are: Santiago Cuevas & his wife Petrona Rivera, born about 1829. Then Domingo Rodriguez & his wife Cruz Cuevas Berrios & all their children. It's been a brick wall this far but thankfully to this blog post I know more of the direction to turn to now for more records.

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    4. You should be able to find her in book 1 for Gurabo baptisms. The book covers 1822 to 1845. You should also find her in Book 1 of marriages which covers years 1822 to 1853.

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  4. Hi, Giving you an update, I read here they said about the possible update on images mention here, so far it hasn't happen. I do indexing and haven't come across any of it. And I agree we need to see how can they finally release all those important and valuable documents they have and are important to us. I will share this on a group I'm part of. Sincerely Dinorah Ramos-Burgette

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    1. Hi Dinorah,

      Yes they have been slow in releasing the records and I believe it is due to the complexity involved in converting microfilm to digitized images. Part of the process includes restoration of the images that may not appear clear on the microfilm. They also have to obtain permission from the owners of the actual books which involves attorneys, etc. This is why I advise folks to help them as they are offering the service to all of us for free. Thanks for sharing the blog. I'll have another update loaded today. ;)

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  5. I'm fairly new to genealogy but have felt very drawn to finding more of my Puerto Rican ancestors. Do you know where I can find census records for the regions of Moca and Aguadilla? Thank you
    Lindsey

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    1. Hi Lindsey,

      If the census you seek are from prior to 1900, then you won't find them at the Family History Center as the above listings are what they have in their catalog.

      The only place you'll find the records you seek is by visiting the Archivo General de Puerto Rico which is located in San Juan. The process is that when you arrive, you order the boxes you seek from a catalog and you wait 2 days for the boxes to be located and placed on the shelf to exam. You'll need a sweater, paper, and pen/pencil as you're not allowed to take images of the documents and very cold due the AC blasting.

      I recommend that you read up on the history of the region to determine if census was taken by another municipality since borders change or new municipalities were developed over time. Have you taken a look at the civil registration records for that region? You can either search or browse through them on www.familysearch.org Civil records can go back as far as 1801 depending on the region of the island. However most civil registration books start in 1885.

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  6. Dear sir: I´m looking for birth records of my grand grand father, born at mayaguez from 1870 to 1885 and emigrate to Dominican Republic around 1900. Any sugestions?
    tks
    homero

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    1. Hi Homero,

      Actually if you know that he was born in Mayaguez,and if he was born in 1885 then there are free records available for you to view. Visit the following link and type in his name.

      www.familysearch.org

      Once you do that, check to see if Dominican Republic has him in their database. Visit this blog post so you can understand what to do.

      http://www.genealogianuestra.com/2015/08/navigating-dominican-republics-archive_2.html

      Anna

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  7. I apologize, I thought I saw mention of this, but can't find it now - Would I contact the site or the morman church in order to be able to view the microfilm? or is there no way to do that until they index it?

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    1. Hi Sol,

      First find your closest FHC, below is the link. You can type in city and State, Country, etc. OR you can use the zoom in on the map too.

      https://familysearch.org/locations/centerlocator?cid=hp2-1047

      Once you locate the closest one, look at their hours of operations and also you can call ahead. Then look to see what films they have at the location during your visit. I recommend that you jot down the film numbers so you can compare what is in their file cabinets at the location.

      Once you have done this and you discover the film isn't there, then ask for assistance in ordering films and they'll be more than happy to assist you.

      Anna

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  8. The claim from the records in Utah is that the record owners do no want to give permission to release. Some of them are available at Mormon centers. The whys of this are totally unsatisfactory. I index for them and I do not have access to those records. As for the Archivo in PR no permitting photos, it could be for many reasons. But, these records should definitely be public by now.Why are records in PR so hard to dig into? Good grief!

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    1. Many of the films are accessible via local Family History Libraries. They have started making many available online but it is a slow process. I have posted many that are now available on my blog, the work is unfortunately is not easy to convert from microfilm/microfiche to digitized images.

      As for the Archivo in PR, the main reason is that the camera flashes are not good for these old documents. Many are taken out of circulation due to the condition of the records. The main reason I've heard about images of some records is that they are legal documents so photos are not permitted based on Puerto Rico's laws.

      The biggest reason is hording of records. Unfortunately there are many out there that are mad that they had to sit in dark rooms to look at these documents and today it is much easier by sitting home and looking at digitized records. However I will not allow that behavior to deter me. I will share info here as soon as I find them online to help others.

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  9. Hi Anna. I am looking for my great-great-great grandather who was born in Guayana City, Bolivar, Venezuela in 1810. His name is Cosme Aguirre and he emigrated to Puerto Rico and lived in Ponce, Juana Díaz and Santa Isabel PR where he died. Where can I find information about the early 1800's? I appreciate any information that you have. Thank you and Blessings.

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    1. Hi Nereida,

      Santa Isabela was established around 1842 so he would have had to have died well after that date.

      There are church records available but you will have to order the films to view the records at a local FHC. I posted about that in one of my blog posts for Puerto Rico so look for the article before you order the film. Below is the direct link to the church records in the catalog.

      https://familysearch.org/search/catalog/282641?availability=Family%20History%20Library

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    2. Nereida,

      Actually there are also civil records available for free online you can view. I searched on Cosme Aguirre and this link will provide you with a lot of records. You will see death of his children. It is important that you document all children for each generation as you will discover connection to another line within your tree that way. Take a look at the following link...

      https://familysearch.org/search/record/results?count=20&query=%2Bgivenname%3ACosme~%20%2Bsurname%3AAguirre~%20%2Bbirth_place%3AVenezuela~%20%2Bbirth_year%3A1800-1820~%20%2Bdeath_place%3A%22Puerto%20Rico%22~

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When posting please keep it respectful. Thank you!