Records from Cuba
1. LOCATION is crucial when searching for civil or church records. Be aware of the terminology "ciudad" (city), "municipio" (municipality), "provincia" (province.) Sometimes the capital city of a province and the province carry the same name. For example: the city of Pinar del Rio versus the province of Pinar del Rio. Although Cuba is a small island, you need more information that just the island name to find your ancestor's record.
2. There were 6 original provinces in Cuba until 1978. Currently there are 15 provinces with a special municipality (Isla de la Juventud previously known as Isla de Pinos) that does not belong to any province. Find a map of the area you are researching in (with the current province as well as the province in the time period you are researching.)
3. Civil records are often incomplete and very difficult to acquire. The Cuban Civil Registry was not in effect until the 1880's but the differing provinces established this practice at different rates. Use CubaGenWeb's Cuban Addresses and Telephone Numbers for guidance. You will need to click on the current province of interest (on the left menu) and then you will see the civil registries for each municipality within that province. For records prior to the 1880's, you need to use Parish records.
4. You can acquire Parish records from Cuba by writing directly to the ancestral parish. Records have been centralized in the corresponding province Archdioceses. CubaGenWeb has a directory of parishes and their contact information on their Cuban Addresses and Telephone Numbers page (See note #3 above.) You can also Google the name of the parish and location to get contact information. Please be aware that not all parishes have a full-time priest or the resources needed to provide services.
6. When you examine the documents take advantage of the fact that Cuban church records are patterned on the Spanish model and often will mention not only the parents but the grandparents as well. Often these records include information as to where each of the ancestors was born, whether and where they were living at the time of the event, and sometimes even their occupation.
8. Resources for Spanish records and Spain are available on Family Search's Wiki. This includes research resources and language resources (such as translation tips and deciphering old handwriting)
9. Another resource for old Spanish paleography is on Internet Archive. You cannot preview the book but you can dowload it as a PDF file.