Autonomous Community of La Rioja, Spain Genealogy

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Autonomous communities are larger jurisdictions found within Spain and may contain several provinces. It is both a political and administrative division. The autonomous communities of Spain were created in 1978. To learn more about them please read Autonomous communities of Spain. The Autonomous Community of La Rioja is located in north-central Spain. The capital is Logroño.

Most of your genealogical research for La Rioja 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]

After the Muslim invasion of AD 711, La Rioja fell into the Muslim domains of Al Andalus and most of the territory was reconquered in 923 by Sancho I of Pamplona. Later there was a dispute between the Castilian Count Fernán González and the kings of Pamplona-Navarra, involving great battles. It was decided in favor of the Navarrese after the imprisonment of the Count's family in Cirueña. From 1134 the Navarrese under García Ramírez, the Restorer and his son Sancho VI, the Wise fought bitterly with Castile for the recovery of the former Pamplonese domains. The region was awarded to Castile in a judgment by Henry II of England and annexed in 1177.

Up to the 19th century, the territory remained divided between the provinces of Burgos and Soria and the region was taken by Napoleonic forces in the Peninsular War and remained in French hands until 1814. The Constitutional Cortes declared La Rioja an independent province at the time of the Liberal Constitution of 1812. During the Liberal Triennium in January 1822, the province of Logroño was created by royal decree as part of the administrative reform of Riego, taking in the whole of the historical territory of La Rioja. The province increased its territory temporarily in 1841 however Ferdinand VII soon annulled these decisions and restored most of the previous territorial divisions. In 1980 the province changed its name to La Rioja, and following the adoption of the Estatuto de San Millán in 1982, during the reorganization following the Spanish transition to democracy, it was constituted as a uni-provincial autonomous community. It is the second-smallest autonomous community in Spain and has the smallest population; half of its 174 municipalities have populations under 200. Nearly half of its citizens live in the capital.

The population of La Rioja is roughly 315,794 people.[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 municipal 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 Digitized Civil Registration[edit | edit source]

Currently, there are no online FamilySearch Historical civil registration records for this area. You should check back from time to time to see if they have become available.

2. Microfilm Copies of Civil Registration Records in the FamilySearch Catalog[edit | edit source]

Currently, the Family History Library does not have civil registration microfilms for this area. You should check back from time to time to see if they become available. In the meantime. it is possible to write for the records.

3. Ordering Certificates From the Ministerio de Justica[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.

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

  • Juzgado de la Paz or Oficina del Registro Civil should be contacted if a certificate copy request to the Ministerio de Justicia fails.
  • Use the following address, filling in the parentheses with the specific information for your town :
Oficina del Registro Civil
(Street address: This link will give you addresses for all the civil registries in La Rioja.)
(postal code) (City)
La Rioja, Spain
  • 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. For writing your letter in Spanish, use the translated questions and phrases in this Spanish Letter-writing Guide.

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]

Currently, there are no online church records for this area. You should check back from time to time to see if they have become available.

2. Microfilmed Records From the Family History Library[edit | edit source]

Currently, the Family History Library does not have church records microfilms for this area. You should check back from time to time to see if they become available. In the meantime. it is possible to write for the records.

3. Writing to a Catholic Priest for Church Records[edit | edit source]

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 might or might not respond.

Write a brief request in Spanish to the proper church using this address as guide, replacing the information in parentheses:

Reverendo Padre
Parroquia de (name of parish)
(street address) Search The Church in Spain by province (Selecciona la provincia) or parish (Nombre de la parroquia).
(postal code), (city), La Rioja
Spain


When requesting information, send 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. For writing your letter in Spanish, use the translated questions and phrases in this Spanish Letter-writing Guide.]

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 interactive slideshow lessons are available to help you learn to read these records:




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.



The province of La Rioja shares its boundaries with the autonomous community of La Rioja.



Online Records[edit | edit source]

  • Wikipedia Collaborators, "La Rioja," In Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Rioja_(Spain). Visited 9 October 2017.