“My great-grandfather came from Cuba. I don’t know where to start in trying to research his life there.”
My ex-stepfather’s parents immigrated from Cuba. I did some research on his side and it was very hard to say the least. I was lucky in that I was able to contact some extended family and fill in some gaps in names and places. His family was only in Cuba for one generation having come from Spain prior to that. Once I got to Spain I was more successful.
There are very few records available for Cuba. Getting vital records from the Cuban government is near impossible. This is one area of genealogy where networking and collaboration is extremely important.
You will definitely want to get the naturalization records of any immigrant from Cuba (assuming they naturalized). It will be your best source for vital statistics. The immigrant himself was the informant. On my stepfather’s father’s naturalization records, I found his full name, when and where he was born, his wife’s maiden name, when and where she was born, when and where they married, full names, dates of birth and places of birth of their two children. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Another great source is Cuban newspapers. For example, Tampa has, and still does, one of the largest populations of Cuban immigrants. That is where my stepfather’s parents came to live. Tampa was a popular destination because of the cigar industry. There are several Spanish language newspapers in Tampa which contain loads of great info.
Here are a few websites that might help:
Cuba City Hall specializes in Cuban document retrieval but it is very expensive. I have not used this service because the need doesn’t justify the cost, at least not for me.
Copyright © 2013 Michele Simmons Lewis