Puerto Ricans Can Now Search Family History in General Archives
Institute of Puerto Rican Culture, FamilySearch Connect Puerto Ricans with Ancestors
The Institute of Puerto Rican Culture (ICP by its Spanish initials) has announced that to continue increasing the number of digital documents in the General Archives of Puerto Rico, a collaborative agreement has been reached with the nonprofit organization FamilySearch, to capture and provide access to documents of genealogical interest. With this initiative, people will have the opportunity to search their family history.
“This project will allow Puerto Rican families to search for free information on their 19th and 20th century ancestors,” ICP Executive Director Carlos Ruiz Cortés said in a press release. “In addition to being a great opportunity to preserve and have access to valuable documents, it will transcend the experience of the investigative process by allowing anyone to learn about their family history, know where it comes from and connect with their genealogical roots in a simple and guided way. Without a doubt, this experience gives additional value to the current efforts of continuing to improve services to the people of Puerto Rico.”
What was once known as the Utah Genealogical Society, is now dubbed FamilySearch. It helps people find their family history and connect with their ancestors. Through its website, FamilySearch provides access to millions of documents free of charge such as birth, marriage, death, census and military records.
FamilySearch projects began in Puerto Rico in 1970, through microfilm, which in addition to providing valuable information for developing family trees, supported the preservation of physical documents. Currently, with the evolution of technology, FamilySearch has ventured into digitization projects and expanded its support to institutions that safeguard documents of historical value.
“We aspire to make available to the Puerto Rico General Archives and other interested institutions, more than 128 years of experience, the technology and resources that are necessary to preserve Puerto Rican history,” said José Miguel Bueno, FamilySearch manager of Institutional Relations of the Caribbean.
The project, which kicked off in June at the General Archives building in San Juan, will continue until 2024. The project will focus on the digitization of documents from 1800 to 1918. The material includes a variety of statistical and population censuses, slave registries and electoral registries. In addition, it is intended to include teacher records and criminal records that go as far back as 1951. They will be made available free of charge through the FamilySearch portal, where a section dedicated to Puerto Rico has already been created.
“We seek to maintain uniformity in all projects to ensure that digital products comply with the recommendations for their long-term conservation, including formats,” General Archivist Hilda Ayala González said.
The agreement also includes the development of workshops for those who wish to start their family research projects. Students will also be provided opportunities to learn about the importance of primary sources and the preservation of historical documents. The project will go through different phases of digitization, which is expected to take about two years to complete before it is entirely available.