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Search 69,459 Camino Questions

Records Maintained in Pilgrim Office

TDS

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2016
Does anyone have information on what records may be maintained in Santiago’s Pilgrim Office? Can one find information on ancestors or relatives that may have walked the Camino? Are these records kept electronically and available in the pilgrim’s office / library?
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
Does anyone have information on what records may be maintained in Santiago’s Pilgrim Office? Can one find information on ancestors or relatives that may have walked the Camino? Are these records kept electronically and available in the pilgrim’s office / library?

Good question! At least in the past, the Pilgrim's Office didn't keep a record of the names of the pilgrims, only basic statistical information like country, male/female, and from where someone started, etc. So finding an ancestor or relative wouldn't be realistic.

I'm not sure if they've changed their records these days to include pilgrims' names, but since you're asking about pilgrims from long ago, any current change still wouldn't help you. :D
 
Good question! At least in the past, the Pilgrim's Office didn't keep a record of the names of the pilgrims, only basic statistical information like country, male/female, and from where someone started, etc. So finding an ancestor or relative wouldn't be realistic.

I'm not sure if they've changed their records these days to include pilgrims' names, but since you're asking about pilgrims from long ago, any current change still wouldn't help you. :D
I guess it depends on how long. Because I have read elsewhere that if you lose your Compostela and can send them the details, as well as pay the postage/handling costs, they will send a replacement. That speaks to them keeping more than aggregate data.

That said, I suspect there may be privacy laws that prevent them from sharing information and there may be a limit on how long they retain that information (and, presumably, how long after your Camino you can get a replacement Compostela), which may make asking for the information after privacy protections have expired to be infeasible..
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
Hard copy records are maintained for years - I do not know how many. They are stored chronologically.

There is NO electronic search capability for these records. No index exists other than by approximate date of processing for a Compostela.

Since maybe 2021, when submitting your information via an online app came into use, electronic information has been stored. It is accessible, and searchable. But ONLY by Pilgrim Office staff.

I do not know the full situation regarding an historic search. You would have to write to the director of the Pilgrim Office to ask those questions.

But, I am fairly confident that there is no way to search if (NAME) ever walked a Camino, and requested a Compistela. I’m my experience you basically have to tell them all the information. They might be able to confirm or deny it.

Hope this helps.

Tom
 
This sounds to me like a good record to keep. I'm not sure walking the Camino is a privacy issue, since I believe many albergues record the passport information of pilgrims when they check in.

I think of how useful immigration records at Ellis Island in New York have been for genealogical searches. This isn't on the same level of importance, but, perhaps for some it may be.

Perhaps one would need to opt-in.
 
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Hard copy records are maintained for years - I do not know how many. They are stored chronologically.

There is NO electronic search capability for these records. No index exists other than by approximate date of processing for a Compostela.

Since maybe 2021, when submitting your information via an online app came into use, electronic information has been stored. It is accessible, and searchable. But ONLY by Pilgrim Office staff.

I do not know the full situation regarding an historic search. You would have to write to the director of the Pilgrim Office to ask those questions.

But, I am fairly confident that there is no way to search if (NAME) ever walked a Camino, and requested a Compistela. I’m my experience you basically have to tell them all the information. They might be able to confirm or deny it.

Hope this helps.

Tom
A question Tom regarding Medieval pilgrims and records kept by the church in Santiago. One my first Camino I met a man who had started walking in the late 80's (If I remember correctly.) There was an obnoxious guy who was walking close to where I was (it was on the CF). He was speaking to this man quite loudly saying that he did not want a compostela and thought anyone who got one was egotistical etc etc etc. He was quite a bore to say the least. Later I met the man who he was directing his semi tirad at in a bar. We started talking and he used the word book, as a generic term. He said that he had done some study and that the church kept the names of pilgrims who walked to Santiago in the "book". He also said that now the Pilgrim Office (at the time it was that little office to the right of the cathedral) kept the names of all pilgrims and we should feel good about being part of history and being in the "book". Do you or anyone else know if this is an urban legend or a nice pilgrim story or there is historic evidence of that a "book" was kept?
 
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Part historical fact, largely urban legend. Once upon a time, they used to read the names of all arriving pilgrims at the noon Mass. Many people incorrectly believe this practice continues. The person you referenced in your post might be referring to those lists of names from years long gone by.

As the numbers of daily arriving pilgrims grew, they merely announced how many from which countries. This was my first memory, when I completed my first Camino in May 2013.

Presently, and as the daily pilgrim arrival volumes can (and does) exceed 3,000 during the peak season, at the noon Pilgrim Mass, they merely mention the countries the arriving pilgrims originate from.

However, there never was "a book," at least insofar as I know. The closest thing to a formal record was the single page form that each pilgrim completed one line on. It was / is called "the Estadillo." It merely captures the information needed to issue the Compostela and for management purposes.

As part of the COVID response to limit viral infection vectors, they converted this paper form to an online submission method, via your smart phone. You do this before you arrive at the Pilgrim Office.

Management has a reasonable need to know how many of what sort of Pilgrim is arriving. So, things like: national origin, native languages, age, professions, folks who are secular or who might be religious, all contribute to the Pilgrim Office and Cathedral management doing a better job of providing arrival services to Pilgrims in future. It is not a perfect science - more of an art really. But, they do analyze these data - mostly in the off-season.

Hope this helps.

Tom
 
Also, and I forgot, EU privacy rules are very strict. They limit how data can be collected, what data is collected, how it is stored or accessed, and how long it can be maintained.

I defer to someone with more knowledge on this point that I have. However, I can tell you that I was assured that the Pilgrim Office 'crossed all the "Ts" and dotted all the "Is" when they set up the online, advance collection method. This is one of the major reasons that all data is not available for automated search.

Again, hope this helps the dialog.

Tom
 
This sounds to me like a good record to keep. I'm not sure walking the Camino is a privacy issue, since I believe many albergues record the passport information of pilgrims when they check in.
@t2andreo has already mentioned the GDPR. If you have registered your personal data on the Pilgrims Office's website in view of applying for a Compostela you may have noticed that even before you can start typing your name you see a screen informing you that they adhere to the GDPR as they must by law. You even have to signal your agreement / acknowledgement and you must click on OK before you can proceed.

So, in a nutshell: You have access to your own private data, you can ask them to tell you which information they keep about you, you can request corrections and even deletion. Nobody else has access, or may be granted access, to your data. Your private data will be only used for the purpose for which they had been collected in the first place, which is issue of Compostela and similar certificates and statistics. The only third parties who can have access would be a company who does IT work for them and then again only for the stated purposes, or, if a law requires or allows it, government agencies. This excludes any genealogical research.

It's not going to change any time soon.

The same GDPR / rules on data protection and privacy applies for the private data that albergues collect for transmission to the police / ministry of the interior in as far as they are obliged to do so by law. One can only hope that all hospitaleros are aware of their duties and obligations in this respect.

I don't know when the Cathedral of Santiago started to collect the names of pilgrims but they most certainly did not do it before say 1960. My guess is from the 1980s onwards or so.

If memory does not fail me the Hostal dos Reis Catolicos in Santiago - now a hotel, formerly a hospital with some albergue dormitories for pilgrims attached to it - has historical registers but I don't recall details. They are not digitised and I don't know who can consult them and where.
 
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Part historical fact, largely urban legend. Once upon a time, they used to read the names of all arriving pilgrims at the noon Mass. Many people incorrectly believe this practice continues. The person you referenced in your post might be referring to those lists of names from years long gone by.

As the numbers of daily arriving pilgrims grew, they merely announced how many from which countries. This was my first memory, when I completed my first Camino in May 2013.

Presently, and as the daily pilgrim arrival volumes can (and does) exceed 3,000 during the peak season, at the noon Pilgrim Mass, they merely mention the countries the arriving pilgrims originate from.

However, there never was "a book," at least insofar as I know. The closest thing to a formal record was the single page form that each pilgrim completed one line on. It was / is called "the Estadillo." It merely captures the information needed to issue the Compostela and for management purposes.

As part of the COVID response to limit viral infection vectors, they converted this paper form to an online submission method, via your smart phone. You do this before you arrive at the Pilgrim Office.

Management has a reasonable need to know how many of what sort of Pilgrim is arriving. So, things like: national origin, native languages, age, professions, folks who are secular or who might be religious, all contribute to the Pilgrim Office and Cathedral management doing a better job of providing arrival services to Pilgrims in future. It is not a perfect science - more of an art really. But, they do analyze these data - mostly in the off-season.

Hope this helps.

Tom
I don't know when the Cathedral of Santiago started to collect the names of pilgrims but they most certainly did not do it before say 1960. My guess is from the 1980s onwards or so.
Tom, when I first walked which was also in 2013 I do remember they only mentioned the country and number of pilgrims from that country. If memory serves me correctly they broke it down from where the pilgrims started from but I may easily be wrong about that.
As @Kathar1na stated they started collecting names probably in the mid 1980's.
I do not mind that they have my information. In fact the Pilgrim Office is one of the few entities on earth that I am fine with having my information.
Tom answered that he didn't think that a "book" or names were kept in Medieval times and the term "book" or whatever was used may have validity. My friend was definitely referring to the practice being started in medieval times. I was most curious if this was true. It would be a nice romantic notion to think that volumes of books sit somewhere in the bowels of the cathedral with all the names of pilgrims through the centuries, even all of us too!
 

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