Resources for Tracing Hispanic Roots

Resources for Tracing Hispanic Roots

Today’s the start of Hispanic Heritage month, honoring the histories of the United States’ 46.9 million residents of Hispanic origin, who according to the Census Bureau make up the nation's largest ethnic minority.About 64 percent of the country’s Hispanic residents have a Mexican background; 9 percent are Puerto...

Today’s the start of Hispanic Heritage month, honoring the histories of the United States’ 46.9 million residents of Hispanic origin, who according to the Census Bureau make up the nation’s largest ethnic minority.

About 64 percent of the country’s Hispanic residents have a Mexican background; 9 percent are Puerto Rican; 3.5 percent, Cuban; 3.1 percent, Salvadoran; and 2.7 percent, Dominican.

Four Hispanic surnames ranked among the 15 most common last names in the 2000 US census: Garcia (placing eighth with 858,289 occurrences), Rodriguez (ninth), Martinez (11th) and Hernandez (15th).

Researching Hispanic roots? Here are some places to start:

  • Our online Hispanic Heritage Toolkit has resources and tips for learning about Mexican, Spanish, Portuguese, Basque, Central and South American ancestors.

See our advice for research in the Caribbean, too.

The site also has a growing collection of church, civil registration and census records from the Caribbean and Central and South America.

Besides researching your Hispanic roots, here are a couple of other ways to mark the occasion:

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  1. Readers searching Hispanic ancestry (from Spain and Portugal) should also check out resources for Jewish ancestry and Sephardic Jewish ancestry, especially if their families came to northern Mexico and then to the Southwest US states.

    Some estimates indicate that more than 20 million Hispanics descend from Conversos (those forcibly converted to Catholicism during the Inquisition and the Jewish Expulsion of 1492, and as far back as 1391) who arrived in the 16th-17th centuries. This also includes Mexicans, Philippinos and those from the Caribbean of Spanish heritage.

    Investigate your family’s traditions to learn more.

    Happy hunting!

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