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How to Find Piura Church DocumentsChurch

We have prepared three guides to assist members of the Seminario and related families in finding birth, marriage and death records for their ancestors who lived in Piura, Perú.  Many of us have been frustrated at not being able to find these records before 1900 because the church records have not been digitized.  We discovered that quite a few of the records, especially for the Cathedral of San Miguel Arcángel, are available on microfilms that can be viewed online via

The first guide covers what documents are available and how to find them.  While it is oriented toward Piura documents, the same procedures can be used to find records for other locations that have been microfilmed
but not yet digitized.

The second document is a step-by-step guide to finding baptismal records quickly.  If you know the exact date of the baptism, you can generally find the record quickly without using our guide.  But if you know only an approximate date, or just the year, or even a range of years, our guide will enable you to find the document much more quickly and easily than going page by page through the old books.  The guide looks a little complicated at first, but we encourage you to try it with two or three documents and you'll see how well it works.

The third is a guide to finding marriage records quickly.  It works the same way as our guide to baptismal records.

List of church records already found on microfilm

Since 2018, I have spent a fair amount of time searching in the microfilm records of Piura and Lima to locate documents that would confirm the identity of Seminarios and relatives listed in the trees on our site.  When documents were located, extracts were created and added to the person's record in our database, accessible through our Search function.  But in the course of the searches, I found records for many other Seminarios not included in the trees on this site.  As these records may be helpful in creating or expanding your family tree, I prepared a list of their locations on microfilm.  They are mostly for people born before 1800, since that is the focus of our site.

I was unable to find people in our family's tree for some of the documents.  I have included these records on the list, marked with an asterisk, as others may be able to find a place for them in their family trees.

Guide to your first search of the microfilms on

Our list above and our extracts cite microfilm references as:  film number, image number and entry number.  Our brief instructions say that the document can be viewed on, options Search>Catalog> Film Number, and that's good as far as it goes.  But finding the document on microfilm can be frustrating at first because of the way that FamilySearch microfilms are organized and viewed.  So, here is a step-by-step guide for the first time you look for a microfilmed document when you already have the film, image and entry numbers.
  1. Go to FamilySearch, select Search from the menu at the top, then Catalog from the pull-down menu.

  2. Click on Film/Fiche Number, enter the film number in the box below, and click the Search button.

  3. A screen will appear that says in Spanish:  "Parish records of the Church ...".  Click on those words.

  4. A screen will appear with details for that church.  Here's where first-timers get lost.  You have to scroll down past the details and notes until you see a list of film numbers on the right.

  5. In the column marked DGS, find the film number you want, and click on the camera icon next to it.  The film numbers in the DGS column are often repeated, but you don't have to find an entry that matches the type of document you want.  Any entry with the right DGS number will work.

  6. About 10 to 20 seconds will elapse while Family Search loads the microfilm.  Then, in the upper left-hand corner of the page, you will see your film number, and on the next line, the word "Image" with a white box with a 1 in it.  Erase the 1, type the image number you want, and press the Enter key.

  7. Another 10 to 20 seconds will elapse during which it appears that nothing is happening, but FamilySearch is finding your image number. All that happens is a very light yellow box appears around the image you want. On a little black strip in the upper left-hand corner of the page, you'll see an icon that looks like a page with the top-right corner folded down.  Click on the icon and your image will appear in full-page size.  You can then scan the page for your entry number, usually written in the left-hand margin.

  8. To read the entry, you may have to enlarge the page further, which you can do by clicking the plus icon.
After you've practiced this sequence a few times, searches will get easier and faster.

Bob Bordier, bob
Written:  May 7, 2018      Updated:   April 19, 2020