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Making sense of old handwriting

Civil Records: Deaths




Family Books


The death certificate (partida de defunción) contains the given name, both
surnames, marital status, nationality, profession, and place of birth of the deceased. In addition, it frequently contains the date of birth. The names and surnames of the parents of the deceased are also given, and in some cases, the cause of death and the cemetery in which the deceased was buried. If the deceased was married, it will give the name of the spouse, indicating whether the spouse is dead or alive, and the names of the children of the deceased, if any.

Deaths from the early years of civil registration should be searched with special care as they may give information about people born in the eighteenth century with greater detail than the parish records. Such records are especially important where parish records have been destroyed.

Before the invention of photocopies, when people requested a copy of a death record, the civil registration officials would provide a certificate or extract of the record. Death certificates could be a literal and complete transcription of the record or an extract of the same.

The Spanish terms used to refer to these are usually: acta de defunción, partida de defunción, certificado de defunción, and extracto de defunción. Sometimes, fallecimiento is used instead of defunción.


Paleography Introduction