Frequently Asked Questions

I’m just getting started researching my family tree. What do I do?


First, write down everything you know, ask all your family members questions, and find out where they went to church. All baptism and marriage records are kept by the county and then by the church within the county. That information will be important in your research. Look on the Internet for free forms such as a Pedigree Chart and Family Group Sheet. Second, find them in the census records. Recommend using www.FamilySearch.org – it’s free. Find your family in the 1940 census (which is the latest one available). The 1950 census won’t be released until April 2022. Third, recommend purchasing a genealogy software program such as Family Tree Maker, Legacy, RootsMagic, etc. They’re all very similar and easy to use. As you gather your family information, input it into the software as you’ll soon find yourself getting lost with massive amounts of paper. Fourth, always document your sources. That’s a mistake all of us make early on, and we think we’ll remember where we got that particular record. If it’s on paper, write the microfilm # on it or the book where you found the record.




How do I get research help?


Our staff does not conduct general research. We recommend the following:

  • Take a beginning genealogy class
  • Join our society
  • Join our Facebook page.
We cannot locate living relatives for you. Records of living persons are not easily accessible due to privacy laws. FamilySearch.org offers many useful wikis on beginning genealogy:




What published records are available?


The majority of early church baptism and marriage records are in Spanish and sometimes Latin. Over the years, volunteers have transcribed records and microfilm. These were then typed and indexed into books. Books sold by NMGS are listed under the “Publications” tab. The list will identify those available on Amazon.com. Families that have no church affiliations will need to check with the State Vital Records office. Some counties have information or online indexes that can be helpful.




Where do I find later records?


Records after 1900 have not been transcribed or published. We have a working relationship with the Santa Fe Archdiocese and follow their rules. Many records have been filmed up to 1955 and can be ordered from your local Family History Library (view their catalog). You can also contact the church or county courthouse in the town your family lived for more information. NMGenWeb can be useful. The Office of the State Historian has valuable historical information. Googling the town your family lived in and finding other historical tidbits can be helpful.




How do I input or make changes to the Great New Mexico Pedigree Database?


This database is owned and available on the website of the Hispanic Genealogical Research Center (HGRC). Contact them for further guidance.




Where can I find free online research?


Recommend www.FamilySearch.org for your research. Not only do they have baptism, marriage and census indexes and records, but other records such as city directories, military enlistment cards, etc. Keep in mind that churches still have restrictions on dates of records allowed online, and you probably won’t find much after 1955. Also, you might not find every record, but as time goes on, more and more records are input each day so recommending periodically checking the database. They’ve even got actual microfilm!




Are online family trees and databases accurate?


The best advice we can give when you find on-line research – verify it yourself. You want your family tree to be accurate. If you find a family tree on-line and there’s no source material with it, then use it for a clue but make sure you verify it yourself.




Are census records accurate?


Census takers were mostly non-Spanish people who some-times had to travel long distances to do their job. They didn’t always understand the language or the different dialects. Many times they asked the neighbors when they didn’t find a family at home. Census records are good for clues, but do not take their ages literally. You don’t know who answered the door and provided the information to the census taker. As people got older, they often subtracted many years from their ages too. Use census records to put your family in the right town/city, and then find the baptism and marriage records to validate the people.




How do I find out which church might have the records I need?


“Locating Catholic Church Records in New Mexico” is available on the site under E-Research: click here This valuable information is sorted by county, and then within the county are all the churches and all the records available for that county. Keep in mind that county lines changed over time. You’ll find information about when the county was established with guidelines about where else you might look.




Where do I find records after 1900?


Most published baptism and marriages book have a cut-off date of 1900. The Santa Fe Archdiocese doesn’t allow publications after that period. The Family History Library has film you can rent that has some information up to 1955. Contact the church your family may have gone to, and visit the county courthouse.




Where can I find an obituary for a person who died in New Mexico?


Albuquerque’s Genealogy Library has a complete listing of the Albuquerque Journal Obituaries and they also have the New Mexico Death records that are available with the online index. Questions? Contact them at librarygenealogy@cabq.gov or visit their on-line page at http://abqlibrary.org/mainlibrary. The “New Mexico Death Index” is a free on-line database containing basic information for death records in New Mexico: http://www.usgwarchives.net/nm/nmdi.htm. On this link, there are two databases, one for 1899-1940 and the other for 1941-1949. Each database is by surname, and also contains the date of death, the county where the person was living, and the age at time of death. Also available at the bottom of the index is more information to obtain the actual death record.




Do I have to be an NMGS member to join the Facebook page?


No, you don’t. To join the page, see “Membership” and then “Facebook” for more information. There are lots of dedicated volunteers who have purchased census, baptism and marriage books over the years and they want to help. However, they should not be doing every step of your tree. Requests should be specific in nature. Postings such as “Help me find Jose Chavez in New Mexico” is not a good post. Instead, include as much information as you know, such as where he lived, when he was born (or best guess), names of siblings, etc. Also, with common names, include the wife’s name so volunteers can easier locate which Jose Chavez you’re researching. Please use courtesy when posting on the Facebook page and do not complain about another genealogy organization or you and your posting may be removed.




Other questions?


This page will continue to grow. If you have a question that you’d like to see on this page as it’ll help others, send an email to infonmgs@gmail.com.





New Mexico Genealogical Society

PO Box 27559

Albuquerque, NM 87125-7559 USA 

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