August 6, 2015

Searching and Viewing Puerto Rico Church Records


Currently a portion of Puerto Rico's Roman Catholic Church records are available to be viewed online.  Another portion is only available by visiting the local Family History Library (FHL) near your home.  With so many locations available throughout the world, it can be an inexpensive or free way of viewing the microfilms.  So first let me explain my last statement.

The LDS provides you with the ability to go through their catalog, order the film and visit the location you want to view these films. However I need to advise you that you should add one more step to this process. Remember that there have been many before you that have ordered these films and they may already be available  So the steps I recommend is as follows and I will explain how to use the search function on the familysearch website.

  1. Search for records. 
  2. Document the film numbers
  3. VISIT your local FHL to see if they are there (click here to find nearest location)
  4. If not available at the FHL, place order to request films

Now to use the catalog is actually very easy and you may even find Census records from the 1800's; I'll provide those links on my next blog post so let's just talk about church records for now.  I personally recommend that everyone write to the LDS requesting that they digitize the remaining records they have on microfiche films. If we all show an interest it will hopefully push them to get it done; many of us have been waiting for years to see them available online.

Click here to arrive to the website.  Hover over the word "Search" and on the dropdown menu you should see "Catalog"; click on it.  You should arrive at the following image:

Note that Place is the default search option (below "Search by").  For Church records you must search by municipality.  To get a list of municipalities, click here.  Type the name (no accents needed) of the municipality and notice the drop down menu refresh as you type. You should notice the town where the church exists, the municipality and the island name.  Select that one. To clarify, if I'm searching for Gurabo's church. You would select Gurabo, Gurabo, Puerto Rico because that is where the church is located. You should always select the double name to see the church records. Now click Search.

Below is what you should see on the screen. Now click on the search results words (Puerto Rico, Gurabo, Gurabo - Church records (1)) on the right hand side and it will open a dropdown to view the full record.

When it opens  click on the words Registros parroquiales....

From here you can print the page or you can scroll down and see what is available on which films. Don't click on the links next to the films as this will simply prompt the ordering. Remember you want to physically check the FHL and save yourself money if they already have the film available locally.

So now scroll down, here is where you see what each film covers. You can see a copy of the list for Gurabo.  The item number list next to the film indicates where on the film it appears. This is great for when you're ready to review the film. Simply fast forward to that section of the film.  This completes the catalog segment. Below I'll discuss the records available online.

So now to access the records you're to take the follow steps.  Start fresh with a new page and open the website; you should find the link mentioned above.

Click on "Search" and ignore the drop down that appears when you hover over the word. You will be taken to a new page with a search window and a map on the side; don't enter anything in the search window as the church records are not fully indexed.

There is a link below the map that reads Browse All Published Collections.  You can also click on the link I provide on the words.  Note the index of regions on the left side. You're now going to click on Caribbean and Central America.  You will realize that it will expand and at the same time update the list to the right. You can scroll down on the right pane until you reach the Puerto Rico, Catholic Church Records, 1645-1969 records. I've provided the hyperlink that will lead you directly to the church records as a shortcut from here.  Now click on the link that reads Browse through ??????? images.  The question mark is simply representation of whatever number appears on the website.

The church records that appear are as follows and I provided the links directly to the records for each municipality's church(es).  If you have an issue with any of the links, please feel free to comment below this post: