Jamaican Family Search Genealogy Research Library
The purpose of this website is to provide information which will assist you on in doing your own genealogical research on your family in Jamaica. This page will give you some guidelines in how to use this site in the process, as well as pointing out other steps that you can take in doing your research.
This site provides direct and indirect information on persons who have lived in Jamaica. For the most part it includes information for the years 1655-1940, although a few pages contain information from more recent years.
The direct information includes the names of people found in Almanacs, Directories, books, lists of persons, newspapers, articles, documents, or extracts from registers and wills. The site contains transcriptions or extracts from some of the Anglican Parish Registers, Roman Catholic Registers, Jewish records, and marriages in Dissenter Churches. You may find your ancestors in any of those pages. You may be fortunate enough to find that there is already a genealogy report based on those records in which your family included.
The indirect information includes references to your surname, but not to a specific individual whom you have already identified as an ancestor. The Utilities pages include some historical information, notes on certain occupations, maps, photographs of places, a glossary, all of which will help you in your task.
Your first step should be to read the Home Page to get a better idea of what is on the site.
"SEARCH THIS SITE"
Your second step should then be to do a "Search" on each of your family surnames, using the Search button at the end of the Home Page.
Print or save the results of your search.
Read each of the web pages that is listed on your Results page. They may be in various directories on the site: Samples, Members, or images.
The Registers of Births, Deaths, etc. in Jamaica were kept separately for each parish, except for a brief period when the records from the Anglican churches were combined from 1871-1879. If you intend to search the registers later, it becomes important to know the parish in which your ancestors lived.
You may find some clues about the parish from the results of your Search. The Almanacs, for example, listed property owners by parish. If your surname appears in the Almanacs in a particular parish, it would be a good place to start looking for your ancestors in the registers.
A search may also indicate that the surname is included in one of the Registers of Baptisms, Marriages, or Burials on this site, in a Will that has been transcribed, in Monumental Inscriptions, Manumissions, the Voters List, Directories, or old newspapers. Look up each of the references given. Read the results in relation to each other. Put them in date order. If you find that an ancestor was manumitted, look for the name of the person who was giving him his freedom. Search for that name in the Almanacs on the site for that time period. That will provide you information on the property and parish of residence. If an Almanac or Will indicates that someone was deceased by a certain year, then you would search for their death in the registers in the period before that.
READING BACKGROUND MATERIAL ON THIS SITE
Doing a Search is only one of the many uses of this site. You will need background information when working on your family tree. Read the Glossary, Historical Background, Notes on Occupations , and other tools in the Utilities. Look at the Maps and Photos on the site. Read the explanatory introductions on the lead pages of each section on the site. You will learn more about the Almanacs , the Registers, the development of Jamaica. The Civil Lists in the Almanacs contain useful information on the period, and not just names.
Interview your older relatives. Get all the information you can from them on names, dates and places. Sometimes older people will tell you that they do not know anything about the family, but get them talking, and they will surprise you both with how much they know. Try asking some indirect questions. For example, did they go to many weddings? Where did they go to school? Who went to the same school as they did? Did aunts and uncles come to visit? Do they remember their grandparents? Who were some people they knew? Ask them about the family surname that you have found on this website, and find out whether they have heard of any connections to a parish or property. You could ask their permission to tape the interview on a tape recorder. Write down all the information. Remember that old people do not live forever, and the older they get the more they forget. Do not wait until it is too late!
Before the interview, print up some blank forms that you will use to put information on each family. Go to http://www.familysearch.org. Under "Get Started with Family History" click on the "Forms". On the page with forms, print the "Family Group Record," "Pedigree Chart Form," and "Research log." Use the research log to help you keep track of what you have done so far. You should have a Family Group Record for each family group. Add information to each record as you find out more.
You can also mail out these forms to family members. Explain to them that you are researching the family. Enlist their help, and promise to send them copies of the results when you have completed your research.
Always ask family members whether they have a Family Bible, photographs, letters, scrapbooks, legal papers, newspaper clippings, etc. from which you could write down information. Don't ask to borrow these valuable items, but some may offer them to you.
JAMAICAN RECORDS THAT HAVE BEEN MICROFILMED
The Anglican Parish Registers, Dissenter Marriages and extant Wills held at the Island Record Office have been microfilmed by the Mormon Church. The original films are held in Salt Lake City, and copies may be rented and used at local Family History Centers.
To see their catalog of microfilms of the Anglican Parish Registers and Dissenter Marriages from the 17th century through 1878, please use the page on my website Microfilms. It contains corrections and additional notes.
To see their catalog for other records, go to their website http://www.familysearch.org.
Upon logging on to familysearch.org, click on "Library" from the Tab at the top. On the resulting page, click on the tab "Family History Library Catalog." From the selections for searching choose 'Place Search.' Type 'Jamaica.' From the results choose "Jamaica." This will give you a list of categories in which films (or books) are available. The books can only be used in Salt Lake City. Utah. You would want to first find your ancestors in the "Civil Registration Indexes." The Indexes to Marriages and Burials contain all the parishes. There are some births listed under Index to Births, but they are mostly for St. Elizabeth. For your next search you should enter the parish in which you are interested in the 'Location', and type 'Jamaica' where it says 'Part Of.' The Indexes to Births for other parishes are found listed under the particular parish. The Index will indicate a registration number, which you would then find in the films listed under "Civil Registration" by parish, which contain the catalog of films for births (1878 to 1919), marriages (1871 to 1930) and deaths from 1878 to 1995.
Select the film for the period and location in which you are interested. Look on the familysearch.org site to find the nearest Family History Center. Click on the Library tab. Select the 'Family History Center' tab. Complete the form for the city and location where you are. At the Center you may order (if it is not already on file there) and view the film. Start with a film that contains an Index. The Index will indicate the Volume and Page or registration number. You will then order and view the appropriate film with the actual record.
Local City or University Libraries often have books on Jamaica. They may have online catalogs that you can consult. Some old books have been republished. If a book is not available in your local library there may be an interlibrary loan arrangement by which you can pay a nominal fee to have the book sent from another library.
RESEARCH IN JAMAICA
If you live in Jamaica, or you are planning a visit there, see the page 'Places in Which to do Research.'
COMPILING RESEARCH NOTES
Make sure to keep notes of what you have researched, as well as what you have found, otherwise you will find yourself going over the same ground again later. Use the "Research Log" for this. It will save a lot of time to start putting the data you find in a genealogy computer program.
SYNTHESIS OF INFORMATION FOUND
One of the questions that I am often asked is, "I have gleaned information from your site about properties, property owners, and some possible family members. Now what do I do with it?" An example of what one reader has done is on a page on this site concerning Heavitree properties. It is not only interesting in itself; it also demonstrates how to use synthesis in the research process.
SEARCH THIS SITE
Plan of this website
Help - Frequently Asked Questions
Jamaica Almanacs Slave-owners, Civil & Military officers, Magistrates etc.
Items in the Samples Directory
Items in the Members Directory
Transcriptions from Registers and Wills (Church of England, Dissenters, Civil Registration)
Jamaican Roman Catholic Church Registers - transcriptions
Jamaican Methodist Baptisms - transcriptions
Jewish births marriages deaths - transcriptions
Slaves and slavery in Jamaica
Photographs, maps, prints, etc.