The study of the genealogy of our ancestors can be challenging. The first question that is often asked by persons who are just beginning is, How do I begin?
Most of your research will begin using the Internet and the best place to start is within the United States Federal Census Records of Puerto Rico.
Things you should know that are important to your research:
1: Your family's complete surname. The Puerto Rican surname spins off of the old Spanish tradition. There is the paternal surname and then the maternal surname has been included. For example, my own name is John J. Browne y Ayes. My mother's complete surname was Dominga de la Calzada Ayes y Maldonado. The US Federal census records census takers were very good at recording those two important surname tags.
2: The next important piece of data is your ancestor's place of birth. http;//familysearch.org requires the country, which is Puerto Rico, it is that simple. If you put in the Barrio and the town things may get complicated and you might not get any results at all in their search engine.
3: Interview the oldest family members you have for information on your ancestry. Find out the names of aunts and uncles and who they married. How many children they each had and most important, the children's names.
4: The search engines on Family Search.org are ambiguous and will present to you a list of family groups that might share your surname in different barrios of Puerto Rico. The same goes if you are Cuban, Dominican etc.
5: Take the birthdates with a grain of salt because the birthdates in the US censsus can be considered as being estimated birth dates.
6: Family Search.Org has a special section on their site that allows you to view actual birth certificates, death certificates and marriage certificates of your ancestors. You can download them too.
7: Your search become tough if one of your ancestors was un hijo natural, a child born out of wedlock. Back in the old days the municpal judge and his secretary omitted the father's genealogy and just gave the maternal genealogy within the birth document. This is where interviewing your immediate family members comes in handy because they often have that information on who was the father of that hijo natural.
8: Unfortunately the census records only go back to 1910, but you can gather information on ancestors as far back as 1856 - 1875 providing your ancestor lived a long time into the 1910 census. Sometimes you will see a great grandmother being the head of household and the great grandfather has been omitted. He probably passed away before the 1910 census was taken. Or, he might have been out working when the census taker came by their home.
Another place to look for ancestors is within Ancestry.com. But they charge a lot of money for using their services. One way to get around their charges is to join them using their trial period of 14 days. Once you become a "member" you can view the actual documents that comprise the US Fed. Census. But on the 12th day call them and cancel your membership. If not, you will be billed.
I am going to share a URL that will take you to some documents I acquired from Family Search.Org that belonged to some of my ancestors on my mother's paternal side.
These images are of my Ayes family member's draft cards. During the first World War a lot of Europeans were getting slaughtered on the battlefield. All of them wanted America to get involved in that war to bolster the rank and file. To sacrifice their lives within a war we shouldn't have gotten into. In any case, since Puerto Rico was a colony America extended the draft to our ancestors. A few of them did in fact serve in that war. The majority of them were wise enough to stay right where they were. You will read about one of my ancestors having a defect in his eye, it is quite obvious that he did not go to war because of that defect. In fact, none of the men in my family ever served in the first world war. Later on some of my immediate family members served in the second world war and in the Korean conflict and some served and died in Viet Nam.
Also included within the images is a census paper listing a Francisco Ayes, his full name was Francisco Ayes y Salazar. He lived in old San Juan and decided to live in New York for awhile. His sister Cruz went along with him.
They are within my Google + pages.
I am hoping that you are encouraged to begin researching your genealogy. It is important because within the records some of your ancestors might be listed as Pardos or Pardos liberes. Depending in what time period those tags were applied, you just might be looking at your indigenous ancestor.
Pardos were different from other racial tags used during the late 1600's. The terms used back then were, "grifo", "Negro Libere," "Mulatto" "Esclavo" etc.
If you are researching within Jeremy Haiti which was once a Spanish possesion until the French got in, you will find French terminalogy concerning race, "Quarter Non" was used for someone who was 1/4 African heritage, this was determined upon how dark or light the skin color was. I find it quite odd how those Europeans were obcessed with skin color. But one cannot judge the ancestors for their excentric ways.