This page was last updated in 2009

José Luis Sampedro Escolar’s Con Nombres y Apellidos is a sound primer on basic genealogical terminology and concepts, as well as the many idiosyncrasies of Spanish family history research.

Surely the most extensive work ever on Spanish genealogy, the García Caraffa brothers’ 88-volume reference work on Spanish families, Diccionario Genealógico y Heráldico Hispanoamericano, focuses on armigerous and gentry families (the equivalent of English “visitation” families) and can be quite useful for adding several generations at a stroke.

There are also regionally-themed works of this sort, such as José Santiago Crespo’s compilation of Galician pedigrees Blasones y Linajes de Galicia. Companions to this sort of work are the many volumes edited by Vicente de Cadenas, which summarise the three or more generations of ancestry presented by Spaniards who entered the knightly orders, as late as the 19th century.

Spain’s National Library in Madrid probably holds the country’s best collection of genealogical reference works, in addition to a digitised version of the García Caraffa encyclopaedia. The library also holds a vast collection of Spanish newspapers on microfilm or CD-Rom. You will probably need a letter of introduction from an academic body, or an accreditation of your own, to enter the building.

There are few family history works about Spanish families that did not at least belong to the lesser gentry, but it’s a good idea to see if a history work has been published dealing with towns where your ancestors lived. You might find a priceless anecdote about them.

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