Municipal records

This page was last updated in 2009

The municipal archives of major Spanish cities such as Madrid, Barcelona, Malaga, Saragossa and Seville hold many useful records.

Especially valuable are duplicates of sacramental records from pre-civil registry times. From about 1840 to 1871, the priests of each city parish were required to submit duplicates of all baptism, marriage and burial records to city authorities. These duplicates became invaluable from 1934 when church burnings became a frequent occurrence, as left-wing radicals expressed contempt for the church.

In Madrid and Barcelona, the parish archives of dozens of churches were entirely destroyed, but the duplicates survived and can lead to ancestors’ roots in other localities with existing records. Most of the cities named above, and other provincial capitals, also hold municipal census records. Some are indexed by surname, but for others you need the family’s address. A birth record from the civil registry will give you the parents’ address at time of the birth, and you can check the census to learn more.

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