July 18, 2016

Researching Panamanian Ancestry

Panama has a rich history with connections to many in the Caribbean islands of Cuba, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico.  No matter which island you are from, you will discover cousins from Panama.  Personally I'd like to see an increase in people from the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, and South America to have their DNA tested. I recommend AncestryDNA since they have the best breakdown on African DNA.

If budget is an issue then test the oldest family members first.  I have seen people mentioning in genealogy groups on Facebook that funeral homes are now keeping DNA kits on hand to test family members to preserve family lines.  These same DNA kits can be used to assess potential medical issues that you may have inherited.  I for example inherited high cholesterol issues. I kind of figured that was the case when I saw that my great grandmother died from hardening of the arteries, which is associated to high cholesterol. 

So lets begin with that Family Search has billions of records for many countries across the globe. Their mission is to digitized all of their records and eventually have them all indexed and free to the public.  So what does that have to do with Panama?  PLENTY!

It turns out that Familysearch.org has a project that needs indexing.  There are two additional projects that in the process of arbitration; it is where records are interpreted different from one to the other and the arbitrator needs to step in to see which is correct.  You can read about the arbitration process on their website.

Below is what is currently available to indexed. With your assistance, it easier for you and everyone else to research ancestors quickly. Just imagine just typing in a family member's name and up comes all their records.  So click on the below link to access available project...

As for what is available online, there are three databases you can search.  They are as follows and each is a clickable link.  The databases contain records for many different regions throughout the country.

There is also Panama, Catholic Church Records, 1707-1973 which currently has 240,799 images.  When you click on the image number, it will lead to many regions being available to view. 

PARES:  My favorite archive and loaded with lots of information.  If you don't speak Spanish or not strong in the language, use Google Translate.  This archive is Spain's archive going back to Middle Ages.  It has extensive information for Panama with many images.  I have blogged about their archives in the past.  Look for my blog post on how to use the website. 

Familysearch.org has many records available for the country.  Visit their catalog and see what films are available to view at one of their Family Search Centers.  In the catalog you have the following:


  1. These indexing projects have all been completed and await arbitration. One of the parts mentioned in the article was published in December 2016. So if you haven't searched since that date, you should go back and discover even more records and their associated images. I have a list of the areas that are covered in the recently published index.

  2. Regarding Panama DNA, I am an administrator for a DNA group in FamilyTree DNA called "Panama DNA." If you tested with another company, such as Ancestry.com, you can download your raw DNA and import it for free into FamilyTreeDNA (FTD), which has some amazing analysis tools beyond what's available in ancestry.com. Our group currently has more than 70 members and we keep adding.

    I am an experienced genealogist with deep roots in Panama who has access to many published Panama genealogical resources (online and in print), as well as local Panama historians. Our group provides help, not just in analyzing DNA results, but also in comparing our members' family tree data to discover specific relationships among them.

    I recently presented at RootsTech 2017 on genealogical resources in Panama. This 1-hr presentation, which is in Spanish, is available in FamilySearch. To find it, go to the Help area and enter "Panama."

    1. Hi Ada,

      This is definitely good to know so that if anyone asks I know to refer them to you on FTDNA. I too have an account there as I uploaded my kit from Ancestry a couple of years ago. I also tested with 23andMe prior to that so I am now on all 3 of the big companies. I'm sure you're probably on GEDMatch as well. Definitely will refer people your way!


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