Saturday, June 9, 2012

Compiled Records

Compiled Records are records of previous research done by others, such as a biography, family history or genealogy.
Both the amateur and the professional genealogist start with them when working on an individual’s personal history. If some research has already been done, it is possible to save time by leveraging previous work. Let’ see some examples of Compiled Records:
Printed genealogies and biographies: there are few of these for the Latin American countries. For example, there are very interesting genealogical works about Simón Bolivar printed in Venezuela.

  • Newspapers: Contemporary newspapers can be used to find family information
  • Local History: Books about a specific location sometimes include the names of the first settlers or conquistadores that may be useful for genealogical research.
  • Family Manuscripts: Noble families keep collections of documents that may no longer be available on public archives. Good examples are Grants of Arms (Certificaciones de Armas y Genealogía) that include the family heraldry and the genealogy, sometimes including many generations. Grants of Arms were issued in Spain by the Chronicler of Arms (Cronista de Armas) appointed by the King.
  • Genealogical Society Records: Most countries in Latin America have genealogical societies that publish research work about local history; some societies are very active and publish good quality documents. For example, there are interesting printed genealogies about ancient families of Brazil documented by the local genealogical societies.
  • Spanish Nobiliarios: For noble Spanish families these books may be a good way to start. The information in these publications has to be considered as a starting point only as it is known that they contain many errors, especially notorious for this are the Nobiliarios published in the XIX century.
  • Webpages: It is always a good idea to do an internet search on genealogy pages.
  • is worth a visit before we spend any time researching in the archive
  • is a commercial site that requires a subscription, but if you have a few generations in the United States it may be worth the payment because they have many on-line records that can save you a trip to the archive.

The most important thing to remember about the compiled records is that this information can save us time and provide direction on our research, but has to be considered as “secondary information”. This is even more relevant to the information available on internet amateur pages about genealogy, where 90% of the information published is trash. These pages repeat the mistakes printed in the ancient Nobiliarios that modern historical research has proved erroneous. When preparing a family history the professional genealogist has to document the sources of information and citing a compiled record as sources is not adequate. The professional genealogist will go to the original records when available to verify the published information.