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Dominican Republic: Local History & Genealogy Resource Guide

Compiled by reference specialists at the Library of Congress, this guide identifies key print and online resources for pursuing family history, as well as provincial and regional historical research, for the country of the Dominican Republic.


This Caribbean country shares the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles with the Republic of Haiti. The island was originally inhabited by the indigenous Arawakan Taino peoples prior to European settlement. Following the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492, the Spanish settled on the island and established the Colony of Santo Domingo. During the 16th century, the population of the Taino were decimated by European and Asian diseases brought by the Spanish settlers and enslavement.

Mapa de la Isla de Santo Domingo
Mapa de la Isla de Santo Domingo 1858. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

In the early 16th century, the Spanish introduced indentured then later predominantly enslaved West and Central African labor to the island for sugarcane cultivation. In 1697, Spain ceded the western third of the island to France, which became Saint-Domingue later Haiti in 1804. In the late 17th century, the economy and the importation of enslaved West and Central Africans declined. After the Haitian Revolution, the colony of Santo Domingo was conquered and ruled by Haiti for 22 years. During a series of freedom and control by Spain, the Spanish-speaking side of the island restored independence in 1865. In the 19th century, new populations came to Santo Domingo such as free African Americans from North America and Sephardic Jews from Curacao, and later Christians from Greater Syria, Chinese, Italians, Spaniards, and other Caribbean islands adding to the diversity of the population.

The Dominican Republic is divided into the following 31 provinces and the capital Santo Domingo is designated as the National District (Distrito Nacional):

Azua, Baoruco, Barahona, Dajabón, Duarte, Elías Piña, El Seibo, Espaillat, Hato Mayor, Hermanas Mirabal, Independencia, La Altagracia, La Romana, La Vega, María Trinidad Sánchez, Monseñor Nouel, Monte Cristi, Monte Plata, Pedernales, Peravia, Puerto Plata, Samaná, San Cristóbal, San José de Ocoa, San Juan, San Pedro de Macorís, Sánchez Ramírez, Santiago, Santiago Rodríguez, Santo Domingo, and Valverde.

This guide offers a selection of resources and strategies for Dominican Republic local history and genealogy research. These include the print and digital collections of the Library of Congress, as well as external repositories and web sites key to finding forebears in the island nation.

About Local History & Genealogy Reference Services

The Library of Congress has one of the world's premier collections of U.S. and foreign genealogical and local historical publications, numbering more than 50,000 compiled family histories and over 100,000 U.S. local histories. The Library's genealogy collection began as early as 1815 with the purchase of Thomas Jefferson's library.