Get £5 off the new edition of “Tracing Your Caribbean Ancestors”

Tracing Your Caribbean AncestorsThe third and newest edition of Guy Grannum’s Tracing Your Caribbean Ancestors is out this week.

To celebrate its launch The National Archives website  are offering it for only £11.99 – £5 OFF the usual price of £16.99. I’m not sure how long the introductory offer will last, so get in there quick!

The new edition is fully revised and covers recent developments in Caribbean archives, including details of newly released information and archives that are now available online.

The gorgeous the front cover features the waving passengers and crew of the MV Empire Windrush at Tilbury docks, having sailed from Australia via Jamaica. The photograph was taken by Jones for the Daily Herald newspaper on 21 June, 1948.

The Empire Windrush passenger lists 1948 (BT 26/237) , which is part of the collection at The National Archives, lists the names of the 492 Jamaicans who stepped ashore on 22 June 1948.

The National Archives holds the majority of inward passenger lists from 1878 to 1960 and outward passenger lists from 1890 to 1960 for UK ports, you can find more information here.

Tracing Your Caribbean Ancestors is a must have book for any one undertaking family history research for people who were born, lived or worked in the Caribbean.

How are you enjoying the most recent edition?

Let us know?


Searching Jamaica Records | Sat 17 Jul 2010

Just a quick note to let you all know about upcoming class in using the Jamaican records at the London Family History Centre.

Saturday 17 Jul 2010
11.00 to 14.00
Searching Jamaican Records (Class)
Taught by Sister Sharon Tomlin

You can find more information about upcoming classes at the London Family History Centre website

Talk on Jamaican Records | 2pm, Tues 22 Sept @ London Family History Centre

Just a quick note to let know on on Tuesday 22 September there’s a talk on the Jamaican Records held at the London Family History Centre  at 2pm.  The talk will last about an hour and is an introduction on how to use the Jamaican records parish and civil records held at Exhibition Road.

Here’s an example the Jamaican records that Paul Crooks was able to find at the London Family History Centre.

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WHAT: Talk on Jamaican Records
WHEN: 2-3pm, Tuesday 22 Sept 09
WHERE:   London Family History Centre
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
64-68 Exhibition Road
London SW7 2PA

Using the Ellis Island Foundation for tracing Caribbean ancestors

The Ellis Island Foundation website is useful not only if your Caribbean ancestors migrated to the USA, but also for a general ancestor search. Given how near the two regions are (a mere five days by steamship!) many Caribbean travellers simply visited and returned. And as the Ship’s Manifest records detailed information about each passenger, it’s a great starting point.

Procedure: Enter your ancestor’s name, gender and approx. year of birth. A list of possible matches will (hopefully) appear from which you may select the following: Passenger Record, Ship’s Manifest1, Original Ship’s Manifest2 and Ship Info. You will need to log in, but registering is free. If nothing comes up, try omitting a first name, varying the possible dates and even the spelling of your surname – spellings were pretty random in the past, and mistakes common.

The Ship’s Manifest is particularly useful as it records details such as the passenger’s name, age, marital status, ethnic origin, country of residence and address in the States. Both the Ship’s Manifest and Passenger Record may be viewed for free, or hard copies purchased from the Foundation. As a registered member, any additional information you have about the passenger may be added on the Create an Annotation page, for other users to see.

My Search: I have been trying to find out about my great grandparents. The eldest of their 13 children, Herman Johnston (No. 003) emigrated to the USA in 1914. I typed only his name, and to my amazement his entry was there along with some surprising additional information:

1 Ship’s Manifest fragment
Ship’s Manifest fragment

extract courtesy of Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc

2 Original Ship’s Manifest fragment

Original Ship’s Manifest

extract courtesy of Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc.

He travelled with five other family members (Nos. 2–7) and stayed with a Mrs. Alalia Joyce of 308 West 119th St., NY. The record shows she is his aunt, and the mother of Adrian and Evelyn Joyce (Nos. 6 & 7). It would appear that Alalia Joyce is my great grandfather’s sister. I do not know who Frances Johnston is (No. 2), but the scribble that looks like ‘dght’ could be daughter, meaning that Alalia is her daughter, therefore she herself would be my great grandfather’s mother. If so, then I have managed to go back one more generation without expecting to!
I definitely recommend this site. It is easy to use and has yielded exciting clues into my ancestry.

by Aysha J.


More information:
Ellis Island


Hyde Park Regional Family History Centre**

Having heard about the centre in South Kensington some time ago at a presentation at the British Museum about tracing your Caribbean roots, I decided to check it out. The attendants there were all friendly and showed me the catalogues of the microfiche records they held. In order to make any real progress one needs certain information about the person/s you are researching. If they are from Jamaica, you need to know both the Parish and the district within the Parish e.g Manchester (Mandeville) or Portland (Moore Town), their actual official name (Jamaicans tend to be known by a different name from which they we registered at birth) and the period within two or three years that you are researching e.g. according to your knowledge they were born between 1924 and 1926. Without these three pieces of information you are searching for a needle in a haystack. Family members may be able to give you some of the relevant information.

You need to realise that Jamaicans in the past (it may be true of other Caribbean countries) may not have always kept accurate records. A death register may suggest that someone was 65 when they died but looking at the marriage certificate it suggests they were 68 when they died. Your grandmmother’s name was Jane White but her real name was Icinda but should could be registered by her middle name which may have been Vernice.They may also have been more than one Jane White in the district.

This all makes researching at the centre potentially frustrating and you may need to go back a few times to get what you want but when you find what you are looking for, it is very exciting. Therefore patience is needed and you need to ensure you have at least 2 hours to spend at the centre on each visit. Ensure you have a little money so if you find a record of a relative and you want to photocopy it, that you can afford to do so.

So don’t get discouraged if things don’t work out first time. Remember “If at first you don’t succeed, try again.”

By Errol A.

More information:
**NB:  Hyde Park Family History Centre is now know as the London Family History Centre and their new website can be found here

Hyde Park Family History Centre
How to get there