Genealogy is the study or investigation of ancestry and family histories.1 Mexico Genealogy is simply the search and research to find members of your family who were or still are living in Mexico. For many people genealogy research begins with a very basic desire: to find a parent or living relative.
Don’t let the term genealogy scare you off. Even if you are just looking for a friend, romantic partner or former classmate, you still must have this information. Otherwise, your chances of finding that particular person are virtually impossible.
Below are the essential 5 pieces of information you need as you begin your research to find a living relative in Mexico.
1. Have the person’s full name
One of the challenges with identifying someone in the U.S. is not having the mother’s maiden name of the person you are seeking. Fortunately in Mexico, each individual has two last names: the Father’s surname followed by the Mother’s surname. If you were searching for Juan Carlos Cortez Aristegui, the break down of the name would be:
Juan Carlos (first name(s) “apellido”)
Cortez (father’s last name “nombre”)
Aristegui (mother’s maiden name “nombre”)
There are no middle names in Spanish. Juan Carlos is the person’s first name. So to best ensure the person you find is the correct one, you need a complete name.
2. Know the state
Knowing the state where your relative is living is critical information to your search. Mexico has thirty-one states and a federal district (distrito federal), Mexico City. This district is similar to Washington D.C. Even if you know the city where you believe your relative is living, this may not be enough. In Mexico some city names are so common, the same name can be found in several different states. You may have to conduct intensive research if you do not know the state where your relative lives.
3. Check the telephone number
You may have a telephone number for a relative in Mexico but now find the number no longer works. The most likely reason is the number has an incorrect area code, called LADA in Mexico. In 2001 there were sweeping changes to the area codes throughout Mexico. So you may have a good phone number. You may just need to update the area code.
If after you have confirmed the correct area code and the number still does not work, then you may need expert assistance to help you with your research.
4. Have a list of other living relatives
People move. Your relative may no longer be living in the same city or state. If this is the case, then you will need to find other relatives. Dr. George Ryskamp in his book, “Finding Your Hispanic Roots”, comments that sometimes a distant relative may be able to provide you with the information you need.
Even though this may seem to be indirect, Dr. Ryskamp points out that family members from indirect lineage can be an incredible source of family information.2 You want a resource that will allow you to easily search for all the variations of a person’s name so you can find them. Otherwise, you may never be able to find the person you are looking for.
5. Understand Spanish
A final challenge is that some people do not read or speak Spanish. Much of the available family information will be in Spanish. If you don’t speak Spanish, you can always take a course or two at your local community college. However, most people who are looking for a relative want to find them now, not a year from now. You may need a resource organized in a recognizable and easy to understand format that you can use without knowing Spanish.
Finding a family member can be an incredible and emotionally fulfilling experience. Follow the steps above and you will be well on your way to meeting your relative or friend in the not too distant future.
1. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
2. George R. Ryskamp, PhD, Finding Your Hispanic Roots, page 16