Mexican family genealogy research: Get the correct state

Let me address some common misunderstandings about the names of Mexican states. Mexico is the name of the country. I may hear a “duh” but stay with me for a moment. One of the thirty-one states is also named Mexico. So how can you know the difference?

Most Mexican documents and addresses will use the form Edo. de Mexico meaning State of Mexico when referring to the state itself. You may also find the official name,Mexican family genealogy research: Get the correct state Articles Estado de Mexico, and the lesser used state abbreviation, Edomex. If you were trying to find someone living in the city of Acambay in the State of Mexico, the proper form could be any of the following: Acambay, Estado de Mexico, Acambay, Edo. de Mexico or Acambay, Edomex.

I wish I could tell you this is the final word about Mexico and the State of Mexico, but it’s not. A few prominent Mexican publications such as Guia Roji’s Mexican atlas and the national Mexico telephone books refer to Edo. de Mexico as simply Mexico. I recently had two situations that truly reflect the confusion that exists with the names of cities and states.

The first was an inquiry from a young girl. She wrote that she was starting her Mexican family genealogy and trying to locate a relative in Jilote, Veracruz. I explained there is no such city. There is a city named Jilotepec in Veracruz and recommended she check with the person who told her the city name was Jilote. The girl wrote back she was aware Jilote is a slang term for Jilotepec.

This exchange shows how one small item can stop you from moving your family genealogy research forward and finding the person you are looking for. It’s always best to use the proper city name if you’re searching online or asking for help from family genealogy research web sites.

Be aware that there can be cities or towns in the same state with only one or two letters difference between the two names. I sometimes do a double take because I’ll see two names that look exactly alike at first glance.

Another event occurred while watching the program, 48 Hours Mystery. The show opened with a scene from a city in Mexico. The caption read, “Ajijic, Mexico.” I just happened to be watching the show with a friend from Guadalajara who immediately said, “Hey, that’s in Jalisco! There’s no Ajijic, Mexico!” Guadalajara is in the state of Jalisco, and my friend knows the town, Ajijic. The proper form for the city is Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico.

Would any of us feel saying or writing Los Angeles, USA seemed appropriate or correct? To someone unfamiliar with the U.S. states, they may have no idea where Los Angeles is. Worse, who can say if the post office would deliver a letter if it was addressed to just Los Angeles, USA. So, when we talk about Mexican small towns, precision with the name and spelling is critical to your search and for anyone you have assisting you with the research.

If you are, or have had, problems because of the name of a Mexican city or state, take heart. Not even CBS and 48 Hours seem to know how to properly list an address. They may claim creative license, but when you are doing your family genealogy research and trying to locate someone in Mexico, that creativity can slow you down or stop your search altogether. Now you know what to look for.

This is a main reason why locating someone living in Mexico or doing your Mexican family genealogy may require the services of experts who know the ins and outs of Mexican cities, states and much more. It is virtually impossible to locate a person if you do not have the correct city and the state where they are living.