Álava, Spain Genealogy

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Guide to Álava Province ancestry, family history and genealogy: birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, parish registers, and military records.

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Beginning Research
Record Types
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Local Research Resources

Most of your genealogical research for Álava will be in two main record types: civil registration and church records. This article will teach you methods for locating and searching these two record groups.

History[edit | edit source]

Álava (or Araba in Basque), officially Araba/Álava, is a province in the Basque Country (Spanish: País Vasco) Autonomous Community. It borders the Basque provinces of Biscay and Gipuzkoa to the north, the community of La Rioja to the south, the province of Burgos (in the community of Castile and León) to the west and the community of Navarre to the east. The capital city, Vitoria-Gasteiz, houses the main political institutions of the autonomous community. The province of Araba/Álava has 51 municipalities.[1]

Civil Registration[edit | edit source]

  • Spanish civil registration records (government birth certificates, marriage certificates, and death certificates) began in 1871.
  • Births, marriages, and deaths were recorded by the local Juzgado de la Paz, or Oficinia del Registro Civil. The records are still housed in their local municpal archives. In addition, Spain does have a national index or central repository for civil registration.
  • Some municipios (towns/cities) may have civil registration records beginning as early as 1837. Some of them have been microfilmed and/or digitized by FamilySearch.
  • Larger cities may have multiple civil registration districts, and smaller towns may have their own civil registration office, or belong to an office of a nearby town. To determine the political jurisdiction for the town where your ancestors came from, please see the Spain Gazetteers article.

Here are several different approaches to obtaining these certificates:

1. Online Civil Registration Records[edit | edit source]

Search FamilySearch Historical Records and the FamilySearch Catalog for Álava to see if there are online civil registration records for this area. If no records are available, order a certificate from the Ministerio de Justicia or write to the Municipality Civil Registry Office.

2. Microfilmed Civil Registration Records in the FamilySearch Catalog[edit | edit source]

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Microfilmed copies of Civil Registration records are often available and are being digitized for online access in the FamilySearch Catalog. Some images can only be viewed at a family history center. Find your closest Family History Center.
To search the FamilySearch Catalog:

a. Click on this link to see a list of records for Spain, Alava.
b. Click on "Places within Spain, Alava" and a list of towns and cities will open.
c. Click on the town or city you wish to search.
d. Click on the "Civil Registration" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
e. Choose the correct event and time period for your ancestor.
f. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the microfilm listed for the record. FHL icons.png The magnifying glass indicates that the microfilm is indexed. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the microfilm.

3. Basque Country[edit | edit source]

  • Registro Civil will allow you to order a birth, marriage, or death certificate from any municipality in the Basque Country (provinces of Alava, Guipuzcoa, and Vizcaya).

4. Ordering Certificates From the Ministerio de Justicia[edit | edit source]

  • Researchers can solicit the Ministerio de Justicia online for copies of certificates.
  • For detailed information on how to order these records online, please see the article Order Spain Vital Records Online. It will take you through the process step by step, and includes translation of terms you will find in that process.

5. Writing to the Civil Registry of a Municipality[edit | edit source]

NOTE: All lines of the international delivery address should appear in all capital letters. If possible, the address should have no more than five lines. For more information see USPS International Mail Manual.

  • Juzgado de la Paz (Court of Peace) or Oficina Registro Civil (Civil Registry Office) should be contacted if the online request for the certificate copy to the Ministerio de Justicia fails.
  • Use the contact information in the first column of the table below to write or email a brief request in Spanish to the Oficina Registro Civil (Civil Registry Office) for the towns/cities listed on the Registro Civil—Municipios for the Province of Álava (Civil Registry—Municipalities) page with the exception of the seven cities listed in the far right column of the table below which use the address shown in the middle column:

Address for Majority of Cities

Address for Exception Cities

List of Exception Cities

OFICINA REGISTRO CIVIL
AVDA. GASTEIZ, 18
01008 VITORIA-GASTEIZ
ÁLAVA
ESPAÑA
Tel.: +34 945 004 879
Fax: +34 945 004 850
Email: 010224001@justizia.eus
OFICINA REGISTRO CIVIL
ELEXONDO, 33
01470 AMURRIO
ÁLAVA
ESPAÑA
Tel.: +34 945 026 995
Fax: +34 945 026 992
Email: 010124001@ajustizia.eus
  1. Amurrio
  2. Artziniega
  3. Ayala/Aiara
  4. Laudio/Llodio
  5. Okondo
  6. Urkabustaiz
  7. Valdegovía/Gaubea

  • Write a brief request to the proper office. Send the following:
    • Full name and the sex of the person sought.
    • Names of the parents, if known.
    • Approximate date and place of the event.
    • Your relationship to the person.
    • Reason for the request (family history, medical, etc.).
    • Request for a photocopy of the complete original record.
    • Check or cash for the search fee (usually about $10.00).

Write your request in Spanish whenever possible. The Spanish Letter-writing Guide will help you with organizing your letter and phrasing your requests in Spanish using the translated questions and phrases.

Catholic Church Records[edit | edit source]

  • Catholicism's roots extend deep into Spain's history. Parish and diocesan records created by the Catholic Church in Spain have long been considered some of the richest genealogical records in the world. Ever since the Council of Trent, Catholic parish records have been consistently recorded, usually providing three generations in a single baptismal entry.
  • The vast majority of Spaniards are Catholic, and so almost every Spaniard can be found in the records of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church was the primary record keeper of births, marriages, and deaths, until civil registration started in 1869.
  • Some church records have been lost or have deteriorated due natural disasters such as fire, flood, and earthquakes. Civil and political strife has also caused record loss, including during time of the Spanish Civil War.
  • The Catholic Church has created several different records. The most used in genealogical research include: baptisms (bautizos, bautismos), marriages (matrimonios), and burials (entierros, defunciones, fallecimientos). Other records include: confirmations (confimaciones) and pre-marriage investigations (expedientes matrimoniales, información matrimonial).
  • Tip: If you are researching after 1869, when Civil Registration started in Spain, both church and civil records should be searched since there may be information in one record that does not appear in the other.

1. Online Church Records[edit | edit source]

  • Dokuklik: Has online parish indexes for the three provinces of the Basque Country - Alava, Guipúzcoa, and Vizcaya.
  • Antzinako: A site for the Basque region of Spain with some records extracted. The record collections are not complete.

2. Microfilmed Church Records in the FamilySearch Catalog[edit | edit source]

Icon-warning.png

Microfilmed copies of Church records are often available and are being digitized for online access in the FamilySearch Catalog. Some images can only be viewed at a family history center. Find your closest Family History Center.
To search the FamilySearch Catalog:

a. Click on this link to see a list of records for Spain, Alava.
b. Click on "Places within Spain, Alava" and a list of towns and cities will open.
c. Click on the town or city you wish to search.
d. Click on "Church Records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
e. Choose the correct event and time period for your ancestor.
f. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the microfilm listed for the record. FHL icons.png The magnifying glass indicates that the microfilm is indexed. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the microfilm.

3. Writing to Request Catholic Church Records[edit | edit source]

NOTE: All lines of the international delivery address should appear in all capital letters. If possible, the address should have no more than five lines. For more information see USPS International Mail Manual.

  • Baptism, marriage, and death records may be searched by contacting or visiting local parish or diocese archives in Spain. Write your request in Spanish whenever possible. This method is not always reliable. Officials may or may not respond.
  • The Province of Álava in the País Vasco (Basque Country) Autonomous Community is in the Diocese of Vitoria. Write or telephone to inquire whether the diocese holds the parish records:

EXCMO. SR. OBISPO DE VITORIA
CALLE DE VICENTE GOICOECHEA, 7
01008 VITORIA-GASTEIZ
ÁLAVA
ESPAÑA
Tel.: +34 945 148 171
Fax: +34 945 145 837
Email: info@diocesisvitoria.org

  • When requesting information, be brief and write the request in Spanish. Please include the following:
    • Money for the search fee, usually $10.00
    • Full name and the sex of the ancestor sought
    • Names of the ancestor’s parents, if known
    • Approximate date and place of the event
    • Your relationship to the ancestor
    • Reason for the request (family history, medical, and so on)
    • Request for a photocopy of the complete original record

Write your request in Spanish whenever possible. The Spanish Letter-writing Guide. will help you with organizing your letter and phrasing your requests in Spanish using the translated questions and phrases.

Reading the Records[edit | edit source]

  • You do not have to be fluent in Spanish to read your documents. Genealogical records usually contain a limited vocabulary. Use this Spanish Genealogical Word List to translate the important points in the document. Reading handwriting skills are taught in the BYU Spanish Script Tutorial.
  • Online Learning Center class on reading Spanish handwriting:

Tips for finding your ancestor in the records[edit | edit source]

Effective use of church records includes the following strategies.

  • Search for the birth record of the relative or ancestor you selected. When you find his birth record, search for the births of his brothers and sisters.
  • Then, search for the marriage of his parents. The marriage record will often help you find the birth records of the parents.
  • You can estimate the ages of the parents and determine a birth year to search for their birth records.
  • Search the death registers for all family members.
  • Then repeat the process for both the father and the mother.
  • If earlier generations are not in the record, search neighboring parishes.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Álava," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Álava (accessed September 21, 2020).