How to find a Birth parent in the Basque Region of Spain?
November 29, 2011 8:10 AM   Subscribe

Ms. Gogomickey just found out her birth father is from the Basque region of Spain. Any suggestions how to start a search given the extreme language barrier? She has a name and other specific information.
posted by gogomickey to Human Relations (9 answers total)
Spanish is still spoken extensively and all official records would be in Spanish.
posted by fatfrank at 8:15 AM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

There are a few Basque-American societies in the United States; there's even a Center for Basque Studies in Nevada. Perhaps contacting them to ask for guidance how to proceed would be a good head start.

(Although, what Fatfrank says about the official records being in Spanish is probably true.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:23 AM on November 29, 2011

On second thought, though -- official government records would be in Spanish, but I suspect CHURCH records may sometimes be in Basque, and church records can be very useful indeed.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:27 AM on November 29, 2011

I would imagine that the vast majority of what you would need would be in Spanish. My mother is Catalan and, during the Franco era, non-Castillian (i.e. Spanish) languages were suppressed so all official documents were in Spanish. So, working on the presumption that her father would have been born before 1975, even if some record of her father exists in Basque, it would exist in Spanish too.
posted by ob at 8:37 AM on November 29, 2011

There are plenty of multi-lingual genealogists, for example, and plenty of Basque-Americans. I'm not sure why the language barrier would be "extreme" in this case. You're probably also likely to find numerous officials along the way who speak English; Spain is the third largest UK expat community.
posted by dhartung at 8:46 AM on November 29, 2011

(Since it isn't patently obvious that they would bother to make one, don't forget that google translate does have an option to translate from Basque.)
posted by whatzit at 9:08 AM on November 29, 2011

Maybe one of the Basque genealogy resources could be of help? Cyndi's List.
posted by bentley at 10:00 AM on November 29, 2011

the chance of Basque being necessary is pretty remote. Even church records are almost certainly in Spanish. Certainly all of the government records will be in Spanish. Only about a quarter of people who live in the region even speak the language, and I would guess virtually none of them are monolingual.

See what ob said, and then imagine that repression of the language was if anything stronger in the Basque region.
posted by JPD at 10:03 AM on November 29, 2011

I read Basque, and if you happen to find a baptism record or similar that needs translating, I'd be happy to help. But I agree that it is far more likely that all records you find will be in Spanish.

Depending on your linguistic background, that might still present a barrier, but you could probably hire a college student with Spanish skills to trawl around online once you find appropriate websites.
posted by lollusc at 3:28 PM on November 29, 2011

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