Going there

This page was last updated in 2009

As with any family history field research, it pays to prepare as much as possible in advance.

Collect any information you can from family members. Keep easily-readable notes. To begin with, don’t throw out any information – no matter how trivial or irrelevant it seems. It could later become the vital clue to unravelling a family mystery.

Make sure you phone ahead to enquire about the archives’ availability on a specific date. Archives in Spain keep shorter hours during summer and many are only open for three or four hours a day under normal conditions. Most church archives close completely during August.

Some may be shut for renovations, as is the case with Saragossa’s diocesan archive, now closed indefinitely until its new building is completed. Archives will also close for municipal and regional holidays, as well as national ones.

At some archives, such as Segovia’s military archive, you need to make an appointment for a specific day. If you want to consult records still kept at a parish, don’t expect to show up unannounced and be granted access. First make contact to ensure that the priest who keeps the records does not have a blanket ban on researchers (it does happen). Establish a general time and day when you can visit, and phone the day before you arrive, to make sure nothing’s changed. Hopefully, the priest’s presence won’t be required elsewhere that day!

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