Millions of people interested in their roots are exploring their ancestry. They’re discovering unique ancestors and learning how the past affects their present. However, there are some populations that have more difficulty locating official records than others and they often don’t know where to begin. The following resources can help Jamaicans find family ancestry records.
Every search begins with gathering as much information as possible. Interview elderly relatives to discover the names of relatives, things they may have done, and collect interesting family stories. Try to obtain information on birth and death dates, adoption records, and places where people lived.
Keep in mind that elderly relatives may have gaps in their memory and some information may not be entirely accurate due to time intervals. An alternative is to create a form with spaces for key information and give it to relatives to complete.
An excellent source for free birth, death, marriage, military service, immigration data, census records and wills, the site maintains a fully searchable database of international records spanning countries around the world. Some family trees are also available. There are helpful links to help guide individuals on their search. Records are also available on microfilm.
Jamaican Family Search
A virtual genealogy library, it’s specifically for those researching their Jamaican roots. It encompasses documents from almanacs, church records, wills, books, parish records, newspaper excerpts, and other types of documents.
The archives have records for Spanish Town, with records listed in ledger-types books. Staff members will take digital photos of information for a fee and the data can be saved for researchers on their USB drive. Resources include dissenter records, a variety of church records, baptisms, marriages, plat books, deeds freeing slaves, and returned slaves.
National Library of Jamaica
Manuscripts, newspapers, books and maps are available at the Library. Local libraries can also be a treasure trove of records. Bear in mind that poor record keeping, failure to comply with registrar requirements, home births and any number of other situations can affect the information available.
Registrar General’s Department
The Department conducts professional genealogy research for an affordable fee. Individuals must provide certain information and designate how far back they wish to go. An online genealogical request form can be downloaded.
Individuals can obtain a free trial to search billions of records. Create a family tree and the site will automatically search for potential relative and ancestor matches. Individuals can also connect with others through the online community.
Old newspapers are an excellent resource for family research. The Kingston Gleaner database contains more than 970,000 historical newspaper pages dating back to 1834. The newspaper charges a fee for access and multiple plans are available. FindMyPast.com has information from Jamaican, British and Irish newspapers, much of which is free to view.
Manumission of Slaves
The collection is part of the Endangered Archives Programme of the British Library and contains certificates of freedom for slaves from multiple parishes.
A Caribbean surname index and links to archives, libraries, museums and other resources makes this an essential site for Caribbean researchers.
The site offers a free trial and has a comprehensive range of vital records, historical documents, passenger lists, and newspapers from around the world. Multiple subscription levels are available, but may be cost prohibitive.
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