September 12, 2015

PARES - Portal to Spain's Archives - Part 2

So since I ended my prior post and didn't go further into details, I'm going to explain one more piece that I didn't elaborate when searching in PARES.  You can check out my prior post at the below link.  As a reminder, this entire blog works using pop-ups.  Any link I provide always opens a new window and keeps the page your reading in the background or on another tab; depending on how you have your computer configured. I failed to explain one other mention in my prior post; SEO.  SEO is the acronym for Search Engine Optimization. The process is used to insure that any term or sub-term can return a record as being similar to what you asked. The most relevant always appear first.

Part 1 of PARES 

So another issue that I touched upon was what to do when you get a page that tells you your request is too large.  To see what that screen looks like, take a look at the below image.

Remember always use the "Atras" button and never the back button on your browser; PARES won't operate properly.  So what I do is I try two things.  First, I select digitized images only (see prior post).  If I get the above window again. I then use the "Atras" button to get back to the prior page and select 100 years but leaving the digitized images selected.  If that works then I jot down which years I did.  I go ahead and go through the records. Once done, I use the "Atras" button until I get back to the search window and enter the next 100 years and so on and so forth.  Now if 100 years still give you the above image then try 50 years.  When I'm all done I go back and then select the non-digitized images and go through that entire process again. The great thing is that you may come across a summary that provides enough information about your ancestor.  Not only was I able to find my Teresa Cueto this way but I was also able to located another great grandfather; Francisco Delgado and the many document available. There is even a document of what men were in the city of San Juan or Cangrejo to protect it in Francisco's letter to the crown.  Some really cool amazing stuff can be found on your ancestors in PARES.  All you need is a little patience and time sitting down thinking up terms to come across the records.  Below I'm also supplying the image records of Teresa Cueto.  I hope these posts have help you understand that it's not you but PARES.

September 10, 2015

PARES - Portal to Spain's Archives

So I'm finally getting around to talking about PARES; Spain's portal to their archives. One of the most amazing and largest archives globally as well as one of the most difficult to navigate.  Some of their archives go back as far as the 1400's.  The archives are so vast that it is said that they have only cataloged a little more than 5% of the records that we can accessed via their website.  Of those records only a small percentage is digitally available online for all to view.  Many who have physically visited Spain to research have spent months or even years there digging through the records; there are many more that even while there are not accessible yet. As we advance in technology globally, hopefully more and more will become available online so we can research from the comfort of our homes.

I have been thinking for a couple of weeks how to go about writing about PARES. It is imperative that before you attempt and get frustrated that you grab a notebook, MS Excel, or even the free application of spreadsheets that Google offers.  Create a table with the phrase or person you're seeking, then create a list.  Even if you speak Spanish, I recommend that you follow the steps mentioned, it will make your life easier.  Once you have create table, head over to Google Translate and type each phrase one at a time.  Notice that there will be a few different translations for a word or phrase, document them all in the spreadsheet.  Believe me you'll appreciate that you did this as documents may not appear when searching one way but will appear another way. I've also discovered that typing in an individual's name will not make the record come up. However, if you type a term and reference Puerto Rico or even Santo Domingo (remember that was the original name) then the record can appear along with your ancestor's name in the information.  The archive obviously didn't add the person's name to it's search tables/index and they don't have strong SEO knowledge.

So for my example I'm going to use one of my direct great grandmothers in my tree to show you how it works.  So first thing we are going to do is visit PARES.  The website address as mentioned in a prior post is Note that I DIDN'T enter any "www". Don't add anything but what you see in a new window or you can click on it and it will lead you there too. If you add "www" you won't be able to access their website. I'm keeping this simple for beginners. As you gain experience you will be able to navigate the website without issue. 

So at the top we are going to select "Busqueda Avanzada".  I love using this advance option as you can make the website provide you more hits than using "Busqueda Sencilla" (simple search).  Simply click on the option and you will see the next screen. It's basically following the same type of instructions as I provided for the 1884 Lorenzo Puerto Rico Census. The website can be very clunky so don't be surprised when you don't discover records; just keep trying.  I learned the hard way in always documenting what I typed.  I actually came across a record for an Irish great grandfather who was sent over to Puerto Rico as a slave due to Cromwell. He was freed and married his former owner's daughter.  I never documented how I found it and have yet to find it again, I'm still looking for that record. So this is a warning as to why you should follow what I suggested when it comes to PARES.

So above in the first set of boxes, you have the first field (Buscar) where you're going to type in what it is you seek. The "Feche desde" doesn't function correctly but you're required to enter in data if you get more hits that the system can handle.

Now the radio buttons are up to you and what you'd like to see, they happen to work better than the dates if you get too many hits. I personally tend to break them down based on images and non-images so that I can decide what it is I want to do.

  • Todos los registros - All types of records
  • Registros digitalizados - Only digitized records (images)
  • Registros no digitalizados - Only non-digitized records (no images)
For now leave it set to the default.  You can also filter by archive which is the next area with the dropdown menu "Archivos".  You can learn about each archive and learn what each has to offer via the website's main page.  For now also leave that set to its default setting.

The next box labeled "Signatura" is basically the location of the archive record.  We use it for creating sources or when writing an article to document where the record can be found. You want to document this information if your writing a book about your family's history once you locate the record.  It is also a good idea to keep a spreadsheet going to document where you located records so that you can easy find the source record.  The section after that "FILTRO POR ÍNDICES DE DESCRIPCIÓN" speaks to the catalog; again skip that option.  The next section is where I make additional changes so that I can see all matches.  I change it from the default setting to "Mostrar todos paginados (Proceso más lento a mayor número de resultados)".

You now have two button to select from, "Limpiar formulario" which means clear all searches and "Buscar" which is the Search button.  Now go back up to the top.   So I have my ancestor Teresa Cueto is arrived in Puerto Rico from Cadiz, Spain.  If you descend from the Maria Florentina Alvarez Castillo (look for my blog post), then you'll be interested in this as she is Maria Florentina's paternal grandmother. You will also be interested as you'll get to see Maria Florentina's father in this record as he is also from Cadiz, Spain.

So for this example I want you to type in Teresa Cueto Cadiz.  You can't get more precise than that.  Scroll back down to the bottom and click on Buscar.

Notice that nothing came up.  I did this purposely so you can see results of when a record will not appear. Now realize that whomever oversees the SEO design of the website isn't really good at what they do.  So this is why it is important for you to realize why you create many different terms. Typing in a person's name may or may not work so this is why you create many search items on what you seek. Now instead of clicking on the browser's back button, click on the "Atras" button I'm pointing to in the above image. As a reminder if you haven't read my other post about PARES, browser button equals bad and you need to start completely over by clicking on the link "Buscada Avenzada" to refresh the website.  Once you arrive back at the search window, only remove Cadiz but leave her name.  Now go down to the bottom and click the Buscar button.

Notice the huge difference.  Had this search engine been correctly designed, it would have provided these search results as her name should have picked it up.  The archive I want you to look at is the Archivo General de Indias. I have found ancestors in other archives but this one is the main one I work with.  In addition the search results are so wacky that it provides search results that don't even match the exact term.  Like I said, a clunky search engine but at least you know it's not you.  Now click on the first link where the red arrow is pointing.

Note that you cannot save your search results to "Favorites" or "Bookmarks" depending on which browser you use. So document, document, document!

Notice there is a box in the first column, ignore it.  You then have Titulo (title), Signatura (see reference about about this), Fecha Creacion (Date created), Fecha Formacion (Date item created) and Dig (digital image).  Notice that you also see an item label Maria Carrascquilla.  Both of these records have to do with Teresa Cueto.  You see both were petitioning to go to Puerto Rico to join husband or son who were of importance as you soon find out.  Click on Teresa Cueto's name.

So in the above image the bottom arrow is pointing the description.  Notice my 6th great grandfather, Gregorio Alvarez.  He is listed as her son. If you continue to read, you'll see Maria is going to Puerto Rico to see her son Francisco but she has a son name Jose Calderon. If you find that you have a Calderon Carrasquillo in your tree then I just provided you with a possible link that you'll need to verify through records in Puerto Rico such as a marriage, birth or death record.  Also notice that Teresa Cueto is going to Puerto Rico to join her husband Antonio Alvarez.  I have these two individual on my tree as they were listed in a marriage record of their son who is Maria Florentina Alvarez's father.  I also located Gregoio Alvarez's death record. I worked my way backwards through church books from the date of Maria Florentina's marriage since it listed her father as being deceased.

Now at the top of the image you should see three buttons
  • Ver Imagenes - See Images
  • Envie Telemantico - allows you to email up to five pages of images in PDF format starting with source info page
  • Emprimir - which allows you to print the current screen
I tend to use my computer's Snipping Tool so I can capture the part of the screen with the signature and save it to my computer. I then use this to add it to my tree.  Click on the "Ver Imagenes", the amazing thing is that it's a letter that is requesting permission to go to Puerto Rico.  Yes I have these pages.  Click here to arrive to the explanation of the images screen; very useful.  Now when you're done (if you want the records), go back up to the top of the screen and click on "Atras" twice to get back to the search results and click on Maria.  There you'll find additional documents related to these two women and their children.  I hope that this tutorial is helpful.  Feel free to post questions that I may have missed in my explanation. Best of luck in your research!