This is a copy of a message that I sent to someone who wanted to know how to search the Archivo general de Indias. As this may be usefull to others, I am now leaving this message on other forums as well.
There is no readily available list on the website. The list which I compiled for individuals by the surname of Leal was compiled by me by going through all records that the archive has. You can access the records by making a search on the website (http://pares.mcu.es) which is by the way the general website of all the archives of the Spanish state. Using the website will require some knowledge of Spanish, as the search engine is in Spanish only.
This is how you can perform a search:
1. Go to the website at http://pares.mcu.es;
2. Double click on “Búsqueda Avanzada” (Advanced Search) in the top middle of your screen and a new screen will open;
3. In the top of your screen you will see a section headed by “BÚSQUADA AVANZADA”. Fill in the name you want to search in the field following “Buscar” (search). If you want to limit the search results to a certain period, complete the fields in the second line of this section: “Fecha desde” (records as of) and “hasta” (until);
4. Then go to the second section headed by “FILTRO POR ARCHIVO” (Filter per archive). Click on the arrow following the field heading “Archivo” (Archive) and the list of available archives will scroll down. Now place your cursor on the fourth line of the scroll down menu, that is the line called “Archivo General de Indias” (General Archive of the Indies). When you have done this, a new field headed by “Fondo” (Collection) will open just below the “Archivo” field in the same section;
5. Click on the arrow following the field heading “Fondo” and the list of the available collections will scroll down. Now place your cursor on the fourth line of the scroll down menu, that is the line called “Cátalogos de Pasajeros a Indias” (Catalogue of Passengers to the Indies);
6. Now scroll down your screen to the section headed by “NÚMERO DE RESULTADOS” (Number of Results). In this section you will see two buttons followed by two lines. The first line (“Mostrar 100 más relevantes” – show the 100 most relevant records) is the default search option. If you want, you can click on the button of the second line (“Mostrar todos paginados (Proceso más lento a mayor número de resultados)” – show all records (slower process with larger number of records) to opt for the more comprehensive search;
7. Now click on the button “Buscar” (search) in the same section. The search will commence and after a few seconds the results will be shown on a new screen.
You can now click on each line and a new screen with more detailed information will open. The most interesting information is in the section headed by “ÁREA DE CONTENIDO Y ESTRUCTURA” (Area of contents and structure) which contains the names of the individuals, where they are from, where they are going, names of their parents, spouses and children, if any.
The date on which the permit was issued can be found under the section headed by “ÁREA DE IDENTIFICACIÓN” (Area of Identification) and then under the line named “Fecha Creación) (Record created). The date is shown in the format [year] [month] [date], for example 1578-12-13, or 13 December 1578.
For more general information on the “Archivo General de Indias”, see my message http://genforum.genealogy.com/leal/messages/377.html and the entry on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casa_de_Contrataci%C3%B3n).
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