How to research your family tree

Know who our ancestors were or know more about the story of our family It is something that we all tend to find interesting. In fact, who wouldn’t want to complete their family tree until time immemorial? Only in this way will it be possible to answer questions such as what is the origin of my family name? Where does my family come from? Do I have an ancestor who was the protagonist of some historical event?

If you want to achieve this, you must carry out a important research task that will lead you to your roots. It will not be easy, but it is possible, since there are multiple files in which to dive to shape each of the holes that will make up your family tree.

The first step, your home

Although it is obvious, the first thing you should do is investigate your own family and ask those close to you, as they may remember or help you remember details that will enrich your tree and that will help you achieve your goal. Obviously, this is only an initial step, since if you want detailed data and even find out the dates of birth and death, you will have to go to official files.

Where to look

To carry out the investigation, the National Library of Spain It refers to various sources to which you should go to provide you with the information you need. The first to which it refers are personal documents such as military records, family books, school books, obituaries, property titles, etc. which will be key to meeting the most modern members of the family.

The next source is the civil documentation that collects the birth, marriage and death certificates. All of this can be achieved in the civil registries, which began to function in 1871, that is, three or four generations ago, which can be a brake for those who want to delve further into the past. Of course, according to the BNE, the documentation of civil registries can be requested through the electronic headquarters of the Ministry of Justice, specifically in the section Family which is included in the section of Procedures and personal procedures.

How to research your family tree

On the other hand, the military documentation It will also be very useful in the event that an ancestor has been linked to the armed forces, either for having engaged in it or simply for having completed military service or having been forcibly recruited. In this sense, there are official web pages that help to find these documents. As for the files that have the most documentation, the BNE points out that they are those of Segovia, Ávila and Guadalajara and the Military General of Madrid.

Ecclesiastical sources

If you want your family tree to go way back in time, the most complete documentation can be found in the ecclesiastical source files, since from Council of Trent of 1563 All the parishes had to compile in books the information related to the parishioners, focusing on the data related to their birth, marriage and death. Thanks to this, people like Angel Rodriguez, a 69-year-old resident of the Toledo town of Mocejón, has been able to inquire into his genealogical tree. And it is that in your case we can find an excellent example of how to carry out this task.

As an aspiring member of the Illustrious Brotherhood of Mozarabic Knights and Ladies of Toledo, Angel wanted to know if he belonged to a Mozarabic family, that is, of those who preserved their Christian faith and customs during the Muslim domination. With the help of a member of the Mozarabía de Toledo, he put himself on the trail of his ancestors, some of whom had indeed been Mozarabic.

How to research your family tree

“To document it, he referred me to the archives of the parish of my town, Mocejón, for which I had to request an authorization from the archbishopric -which is mandatory to comply with the LOPD (Organic Law on Data Protection) -. In the end I got it together with two other authorizations for Yuncler and Magán, where there were also roots of my family ”, explains Ángel himself. Once he got permission, he just had to “pull the string and be patient.”

“In the research process I found that some books were missing but since I had the genealogical tree, I could make the leap, so if I did not find the parents, I would find the grandparents in another book”, he points out before commenting that the books consulted have a large amount of data: “In the case of marriages, for example, you find the name of the spouses, parents, grandparents, witnesses and even the priest who married them.”

“In the parish archives are the baptism, marriage and death book, and in all three they use the same technique since time immemorial.” However, this is not to say that the search was easy. “It is difficult because they are misread, both by calligraphy and by the rhetoric of writing. In addition, they are very extensive. Fortunately they have an index and the people registered are in alphabetical order, which helps a lot ”.

Choose a branch

When doing the family tree, if you are going back a long way, you will have to follow a branch of the family if you don’t want the search to become an impossible task. “Other branches spring up and the tree widens, so you have to focus on some,” explains Ángel, who has done it on his Mozarabic ancestors, since they were the reason for his search. “I have already reached 1600 and something, but my goal is to do it until the first book in the parish of Mocejón, which dates from approximately 1515”, He concludes.