Thursday, June 7, 2012

Quality Mexico Genealogy Includes Verifying Your Information

Everyone likes to find new information about their family. You go online, search through records, files and microfiche and order documents. These are all essential activities for your Mexico genealogy, but a lot of beginning genealogists miss a very important step - verifying their information.

One of the mantras in genealogy is "verify, verify, verify." If you skip this step, it could cause you to never find information about your family, to spend years following a family line that has nothing to do with yours or to just not have your family history quite right. 

Here's a story about why verification is so important. On a death certificate we examined, the person was listed as having been born in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon (N.L.). However, the person only lived there for a few years. At the time of the person's death, his son, Tony, didn't know that his father had actually been born in another Mexican state. 

We did more digging and discovered documents that showed that Tony's father had been born in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. With more verification we identified the correct city and now Tony has make contact with family still living there. If he hadn't had his father's birth place verified, Tony most likely would never have had the great joy of meeting and knowing his relatives in Tamaulipas. Now he's planning to spend a week vacating in Mexico with his newly found cousins, aunts and uncles.

Just because you have an official document doesn't mean that there can't be mistakes. When I was born, the hospital in Texas spelled my middle name incorrectly. My parents had to go through a process to get the spelling of my name legally changed. Fortunately, this name change document is part of my birth certificate, but this isn't always the case for mistakes made on legal document in both the U.S. and Mexico. A lot of parents don't take the time to go through the hassle of legally correcting mistakes on documents. 

While you want to verify your information, you also have to be flexible enough to recognize that you might have the correct document for a relative even if there is a misspelling. I can't tell you how often people will write us for help and advice and yet misspell the surname or leave off an accent. There is a huge difference between Pena and Peña. Sometimes genealogists believe their surname has no accent when originally it did. Use inaccurate information on Google or, and your chances of finding your relatives in Mexico will be pretty slim.

All of these issues with incorrect spelling on documents, typos and simply wrong dates and places of birth is why it's so important to verify your information. So take the time to verify your information. Remember that as you get new documents you want to go back and reverify that everything matches up before moving forward. 

If you have a story about misinformation, share it with us on Facebook so we can all learn something new. And watch out for typos.


Richard Villasana
Richard Villasana, The Mexico Guru
Find Relatives In Mexico

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Searching for a Person in Mexico Can Cost You

One of the best ways to get help with your Mexico family genealogy is to ask a question. Jeanette from Alabama asks:
"i am searching for a person in Mexico and i search every were [sic] and places i search is charging [sic] to find... this person or his family." 
Jeanette provided several complete names of people, many with the surname Lucio. One key to asking for help is to always provide the city and state in Mexico where you believe these people are or were living. 

Another key to successful Mexico genealogy is when you list more than one person, always explain who these people are relative to the person you want to find. In this case, we could assume that all of the names are of people related to each other, and we'd probably be right. 

But it's always best to give as many details as possible including the relationship between the names you provide. You want your Mexico genealogy to come alive not just for yourself but also those who are working with you.

Jeanette commented that every place she looks for help wants to charge her. Free resources such as the Internet have limited capabilities to help you find someone in Mexico. In Jeanette's case, she wants to find people living in Mexico today rather than finding her ancestors. Information about most people living in Mexico is either not on the Internet or the information is so common you get too many results. For instance, let's say you want to find Juan Martinez and go to Facebook. You might find a thousand people with the same name and your particular Juan Martinez may not be one of them.

When the Internet fails, the other option is a company that offers a professional service because they have access to information that the public doesn't. So why is there a cost? This is like being sick. You can go online and find lots of advice, and a lot of it's good advice. But if you're really sick, no matter how much advice you find for free, you may have to go see and pay a doctor to get better. 

If you are like Jeanette and have been online and haven't yet found the people, then you now need professional help to find them. BUT before you go spending your money, be sure the company handles Mexico and not just U.S. Companies such as Intelius and LexisNexis only have information for people in the U.S., not Mexico. You want a company that will be able to help you find relatives in Mexico so you'll be writing about having fun with your Mexican relatives instead of searching for them next year.


Richard Villasana
Richard Villasana, The Mexico Guru
Find Relatives In Mexico

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