July 25, 2015

Navigating Dominican Republic's Archive Website ~ Archivo General de la Nacion - Part 3

So before I begin, I recommend that you check out Parts 1 and 2 if you're just arriving at this blog. Below I've provided links to each to help you walk through this website.  They will open each in their own window so you won't lose your place.

The next part is going to require you to think outside of the box in what you seek.

The next piece is "Fondos Documentales", this link will open a new tab on your browser. Here you can find a treasure trove of information that can date back as far as they maintained records. I have seen some very old records. What I like about this archive is that they even have records about neighboring islands. So if you know anyone looking for ancestry information for Cuba and Puerto Rico then definitely check out the Dominican Republic archives.

So when you arrived to this screen, ignore the right side and we'll concentrated on the left. People normally see the sign-in window on the right and quickly assume that they can't search; quite the opposite.

This website works exactly the same way it does for Biblioteca and Hemeroteca that I mentioned in my prior post. The thinking outside the box concept is how you'll find information. 

The first step in typing the person who you're looking for. If you come up with no search results then try simply their last name and what town you believe they are from.  If nothing comes up then try "protocoles" and the name of their town. Now if you're following what I'm saying, then basically you'll be able to find documents that can lead to your ancestor.

This concept actually works more than people realize. Even looking for a court cases or even time periods can help in your search. Simply searching for the town and a particular year can yield information on your ancestors. Typing an ancestor's name and thinking you're going to find everything about them will fail since that isn't how these catalogs work nor do they work this way even with PARES (Spain's archive).
You're also given additional features with this website. Notice the words under the search box, "Fondos" and "Archivos" (See above image).

Yes you can narrow down your search based upon a catalog. If you click on "Fondo", you'll be taken to a new page.

Take notice of the years that appear under "Fechas de Produciones" which translates to dates of production.  If you scroll down, you'll realize that their is a link called "Archivo Real de El Seibo" which dates back to 1700!  So yes you will find information for a region that saw fires and destruction of towns (read the history).  Now understand that you can drill down further on the catalog and again document what they have but yes it may require you to make a visit to the island or ask a family member to gain access to the record.  One of the drill down items that catches my immediate interest is "Actos Notariales".  The description from the catalog is as follow:

Esta serie está integrada por actos notariales, relacionados con: ventas de terrenos, de esclavos, de casas y/o bohíos y de animales, testamentos, inventarios de bienes, tasaciones y particiones de bienes. Contiene además otorgamientos de poder, cartas de liberación a esclavos y escrituras de censo, tributo y capellanías

I'll leave it to you to copy and paste it into a translator to understand it's translation. Yes you will more than likely find family in these records; especially with the wills that have been filed. Another piece of assistance is having maps of the islands. Towns change names and sizes and possibly move over time. Use the old name towns in your searches and find out when the town was settled and when it became official; two different dates and it will help you in finding ancestors. This is why reading the history is so important.

If you go back and search and when your search results appear, you're given two windows, one above and below the search results.

You'll want to read the lower pane, however notice the word "Ver" on each item.  If you click on it, it will provide the same information that appears in the lower pane but in it's own window. I used Felipe Cartagena as an example because I knew he was an attorney on the island and knew that many records exist with his name; he's my 2nd great grandfather. We came very close to having another "Guantanamo Bay" but with Samana.  Thank goodness the US Congress rejected the purchase because the region is an asset to the country. 

I hope this quick tutorial helps many out there searching information on their line. And don't be afraid to pick up the phone and call down there. You can find their number on the website. Also you can follow them on Facebook and Twitter. Lots of information available to you!