September 29, 2017

How to Locate Ancestors in Church Records

Sometimes as an experienced researcher, you tend to forget somethings are not natural or known to many.  So today, I was asked how to find a family member that is in an index in an actual church book that is digitized online. I decided to post about it in the blog because I realize that although I've provided a prior post, posts do get lost after so many postings so it helps to speak to it again.

So to help others understand, I am going to use Caguas in my example.  So let's start with my post about Caguas.  Click on the below link and it will take you to my post about Caguas.

Now in my example, we will be looking at the Indexes at the top called...

Baptisms Index 1864 - 1880 (Image 58)

Notice that in all my postings, I am always providing an Image number. This is there to tell you where you are in the film. This means that when you click on the link, you will be on Image Number 58.

Not all Indexes are the same. In the particular book for my example, the names are alphabetized and it covers books 11 through 18.  So the first number appearing is the book number next to the person.

At times, some indexes with a number next to a person name represents the folio or page number. Some names may have a “v” next to it like 17v or an "a' like 17A. The “v” stands for vuelto, which means the back of the page.  The "A", also means back of page and stands for "atras" in Spanish.

So looking at the Index, I am selecting Federico Aponte.  His mother's name is Victoriana. According to the Index, he can be found in Book 11 on page 170-A. 

So next we go back to my Caguas post and look fro Book 11. In my post you should see the following entry under Baptisms.

Book 11 of Baptisms of Mixed and Whites 1864 - 1866 (Image 312)

So when you click on the link, you should find yourself on Image 312. Here is where you do a little math.  Take 312 and add to it 171.  This will give you 483.  So in the upper lefthand order above the image, type in 483 over the 312 and hit enter.  As you can see you wound up on page 166.  This is because at times images are repeated due to clarity issues or there are extra pages in the beginning of a book.

So we know that we need to arrive to page 171.  You can either page forward or add 5 to 483 to make it 488.  I entered in 488.  At the bottom of the page, you should see the entry for Federico's baptism.

Hopefully this tutorial will help you in researching your ancestors.  Feel free to share this post and as always, below are instructions to accessing other posts on this website. Happy Researching!
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  1. The VALENTIN, Name is well spread now in Puerto Rico and the US, they came to the new world from different parts of Europe. The name's largest concentration is in an area between France and Germany, on both side of the border. However, most Valentin's in P.R. erupted from the western side of the island who came from the Roman province of IBERIA. The name is most likely a derivation from Emperor Valentinus or Valentinianus. There are not to many people with Valentin as last name in Spain. Most are First Name. Who were the first to come to the western area of Puerto Rico, for sure? That's what I been trying to find out for years and I need all the help available. Thank you!

    1. Hi, I recommend you join the Puerto Rico Genealogy group on Facebook. I know that the Valentin last name has existed in Puerto Rico into the early 1700's and 1600's. There are multiple Valentin lines in Puerto Rico so not all wind up coming from the same region. You also have those that were enslaved that decided to take on the last name. Below is the link to the Facebook group. Best of luck in your research!

  2. Hi Anna, My name is Waleska Figueroa (Wallie) and I must say this by far has been the best site for research. My goodness you are breaking brick walls for me. I cannot not thank you enough for all the time and effort you have put into this website. I was wondering how would I go about getting these records for a town that is not on your site? I along with my mother Olga Figueroa have been doing research since Aug. 2010 researching her side and my dads side of the family but I also started researching my husbands side as well. I will eventually join the journey you are taking in looking for my African side which I hope I can reach out to you for advice because I know that will be difficult.

  3. Hi Ann, My name is Edna and was wondering if you or someone recently had this situation. Last year, before Hurricane Maria, I wrote to the Roman Catholic Church in Lares, PR and was told they could not look up records further back than 1916. About 10 years ago, I wrote them and they were able to send my copies of baptism and marriage records. I am hoping that perhaps they were sent out to be microfilmed but I know that is wishful thinking. Have you or anyone heard any thing? PS Joan B. says Hi!


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