Most genealogists know—or learn belatedly—that they should be on the lookout for existing accounts of their ancestors, whether published in a printed book or online. While the information in older books about any family must be examined for possible errors and their findings compared against original sources, published family histories frequently save the genealogist much time and effort. For persons possessing Latin American origins, Lyman Platt’s 1996 book, Hispanic Surnames and Family History, is still the best guide to published family histories.
Hispanic Surnames and Family History is an exhaustive review of the development of Spanish surnames in Latin America and the Hispanic United States where there are obvious links between Latin American and Spanish families. (The word Hispanic refers to persons born in Latin America or the U.S. whose parents spoke Spanish and whose principal cultural background was Spanish). Among other things, this work ranks the top 1,000 surnames throughout the Americas at the time of publication and identifies surnames that are unique to particular Latin American nations.
At the very heart of the book, however, is a bibliography of Hispanic family histories in the U.S. and Latin America, certainly the most extensive list of its kind ever compiled. Dr. Platt cites every Hispanic family history he was able to locate in newspapers, magazines, historical compilations, and monographs. For the genealogist concerned with Hispanic ancestry, Hispanic Surnames and Family History is one of first places—if not the very first–to begin one’s own genealogy.
To illustrate what a researcher might learn from this book, please consider pages 67 and 138, which we have copied below. The third entry on p. 67–from the section of the book that lists Spanish surnames for which a history or historical sketch exists—refers to the surname Frias. To see the actual bibliographic citation for Frias, look at the last entry on p. 138. It describes a work published by Jorge H. Frias, “De Donde Venimos y con Quien nos Vinculamos,” which is in fact the first publication a Frias descendant should examine. Although Dr. Platt found only one citation for Frias, more common names such as Gallego(s) shows three sources, and Garcia, fully sixteen. In fact, Hispanic Surnames and Family History cites over 1,800 sources of published family historical sources of potential benefit to genealogists, making it still the greatest bibliography of its kind in print! View Book Details
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