buber.net > Basque > Diaspora > Genealogical Tips
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Tips for doing genealogical research, tailored for researchers of the
I've been getting a lot of comments lately about tips on how to find out
about one's Basque roots. So, I figured I'd write up a quick little
guide, based upon my own experience and some help given to me by Xabier
Ormaetxea. I hope this helps most of you.
The first thing you should do when trying to research your roots,
regardless of where in the world they come from, is ask your relatives
as many questions as possible. Try to find out about their parents,
grandparents, etc. Ask cousins too. Sometimes they might know more
about great grandma than your parents do.
The best place to find other information about people from the Basque
Country is through Church records. The Basque Country is historically
strongly Catholic, thus, at least until recently, most everyone was
baptized. The individual churches have birth, death, marriage, and
baptismal records for the last 100 years. Records from before then have
been microfilmed by both the Diocese of each province and by the
Mormons. The Mormon records are based in Salt Lake City, Utah, and can
be accessed by anyone. What you need to do is contact your local Family
History Center and ask them for the details. For $3.50 you can order a
microfilm from Salt Lake and you have 2 weeks to look at it. Please
note that the Church of Bizkaia does not allow Salt Lake to send
microfilms of documents from that area out of Salt Lake. For Bizkaians,
the only other option is to go to Bizkaia and search there (or Salt
Lake. I think that one can go there to search.). There are currently
efforts underway to try and get a copy of those records in Boise, Idaho,
for people of Basque decent to do research there, but, as far as I know,
this project is still in it's infancy.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: Ralph Serrano informs me that the films of
Bizkaia are now available to everyone outside of Spain. So, you can
now do research about Bizkaians. :) Thanks Ralph.
You can also contact the Town Halls of the cities from which your
relatives are from. Civil records exist for dates after 1870. You can
write to either the Town Hall for the smaller towns or the Civil Record
Office for the larger towns asking for the records you want. Send with
your letter an envelope with your name and address and an International
Answer coupon. It is not necessary to send money. You will probably
get a better response if you write your letter in Basque or Spanish,
instead of English.
Beyond this, there isn't too much advice we can give. But, after having
exhausted these possibilities, you should have a good grasp of what you
can do and what a next step might be. Good luck!
If anyone has found other resources that might be generally helpful,
please contact me so I can add them to this list. Eskerrik asko!
This was sent to me by: Ignacio Orduña
Efectivamente, los Registros Civiles existen desde 1870, y
aprox. desde esa fecha usamos el sistema de dos apellidos (padre y
madre). Anteriormente existía libertad para apellidar a los hijos,
por lo que puede haber sorpresas porque el apellido del hijo no es
igual que el del padre. Había muchos casos de herencias en que era
necesario apellidarse como el que fundó un mayorazgo para heredar, y
la solución era darle su apellido. Convienen aclarar a los
aficionados el sistema, y que la mujer no cambia de apellido al
casarse. Las parroquias tienen registros desde mucho antes de 100
años. El Concilio de Trento lo hizo obligatorio desde 1550, copiando
un sistema anterior impuesto por el Cardenal Cisneros alrededor de
1500 para Castilla, y creo que también era válido para Euzkadi. En
zonas de León, donde emigraron vizcainos, el registro existe desde
1412. El Archivo Diocesano de San Sebastián también es interesante de
visitar. Son amables y te envían la documentación por correo. Se
encuentra en el Seminario Diocesano funciona de Martes a Sábado 9:30 a
13:00 Tfno 943 214987