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A Rare Discovery And Painful History

Updated: Jul 18, 2022

Friends of ancestry research, I have to share this with you. I made a rare discovery last week and my emotions are all over the place. I feel like I struck GOLD…ancestry GOLD! I’m a big fan of Henry Louis Gates Jr. of Finding Your Roots and he is always saying how hard it is for families to find names of their formerly enslaved ancestors. Like the rest of the Americas, Central America practiced slavery to sustain their colonies. My family is from Central America, and 7 percent of our DNA is African. So knowing how the black experience in Central America has been historically erased and continuously denied, I thought my research for African descendants would be even HARDER. But last week, I stayed digging through records on for hours. I focused on death records in El Salvador’s Civil Registration. I kept finding names that matched my ancestors. One after another, they kept revealing themselves. And just like that, it happened...I saw the words "mulatto libre" next to my ancestor's name.

El Salvador Civil Registration
Source: FamilySearch (

I have attached a screenshot of the birth record for Maria del Rosario Jimenez born in Sonsonate. She is the sister of my 4th great-grandmother. I found Josef Guadalupe Jimenez and Juana Potenciana Cruz. Next to their names was written “Mulatto libre” for Josef and “Espanola” for Juana. In a different birth record for another daughter, the parents had “mulattos y casados” next to their names. Maria del Rosario also had the word “quasteron” (so I thought) underneath her name. I couldn’t make out the word exactly, but my aunt’s friend researched it further and found it was the Spanish word for “quadroon,” a derogatory term used to describe a person with one biracial parent. I know there is so much more to this painful this story. But for now, I'm thrilled to have discovered the names of my 5th great-grandparents. I am especially moved to have come this close to learning the names of my African ancestors. So close!

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