Caribbean Genealogy Records
Below is a list and description of the most recent genealogy records for Caribbean countries (see list of most recent records for other countries). Many of these records can be searched using our free Genealogy Search Engine.
2016 January to June
Cuba – Vanderbilt University has established a website devoted to digitizing and preserving documents related to enslaved Africans and Afro-descended peoples in the Americas. The website is called Ecclesiastical & Secular Sources for Slave Societies. Most of the documents on the website relate to Brazil and Columbia, with some additions covering Cuba and Spanish Florida.
The database currently contains nearly 400,000 documents from an incredibly diverse range of sources. Many are from various ecclesiastical sources and contain such things as baptism records.
At the moment, the documents do not appear to have not been transcribed. The images are organized by country and then by type of document. Access is free. [Ecclesiastical & Secular Sources for Slave Societies]
2015 July to December
Caribbean – Readex has put online a new collection called Caribbean Newspapers 1718-1876. According to Readex, this is the largest online collection of 18th and 19th century newspapers from the region. It features more than 140 newspapers from 22 different islands. Most of the newspapers are in English, but some are in Spanish, French or Danish.
The countries/islands covered by this collection are Antigua, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Cuba, Curaçao, Dominica, Grenada, Guadaloupe, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Montserrat, Nevis, Puerto Rico, St. Bartholomew, St. Christopher, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Tobago, Trinidad and the Virgin Islands.
This collection provides a unique tool for genealogists to research their ancestors, study colonial history, the Atlantic slave trade and other aspects of Caribbean culture and history. In the absence of official records, newspapers are a great source.
For those who are not familiar with Readex, it is not available to individual subscribers. Readex is accessible through most public libraries. This is the largest genealogy record collection we have seen in the last five years for anyone with Caribbean ancestors. [Historic Caribbean Newspapers]
Bahamas – FamilySearch.org has indexed some 35,000 civil registration records from the Bahamas. These are birth, marriage and death records that span the years from 1850 to 1959. See an example of a birth record below. The records can be searched by first name, last name and life event (birth, marriage, residence, death and any). Access is free. [Bahamas Historic Birth Records]
2015 January to June
Puerto Rico – FamilySearch has indexed some 4.8 million civil registration records from Puerto Rico. The records span the years from 1805 to 2001 and consist primarily of birth, marriage and death records. Civil registration in Puerto Rico began in 1885. The records prior to this date are from the few municipalities that began civil registration before 1885. The records can be searched by first name and last name. Access is free. [Historic Puerto Rico Birth Records]
2014 July to December
Bahamas – FamilySearch has indexed an additional 33,000 civil registration records from the Bahamas. These records span the years from 1850 to 1959 and come from the Registrar General of the Bahamas. The earliest records in the collection are handwritten in narrative style. The later records are handwritten in a standardized record format. The Bahamas first created a formal registry office for births, marriages and deaths in 1862. The records tend to be much better after this date. These records can be searched by first and last name. [Historic Bahamas Birth Records]
Jamaica – FamilySearch.org has indexed some 1.7 million civil registration records from Jamaica. These are birth, marriage and death records than span the years from 1880 to 1999. The records can be searched by first and last name. This is a great collection for anyone with Jamaican ancestors. Access is free. [Historic Jamaican Birth Records]
Puerto Rico – Ancestry.com has put online nearly 5 million Puerto Rico birth, marriage and death records. The collection spans the years from 1836 to 2001 and comes from the Puerto Rico Department of Health. These records are in Spanish. Access is by subscription. [Puerto Rico Civil Registration Records]
2014 January to June
Bahamas – FamilySearch.org has indexed some 231,000 civil registrations from the Bahamas. The records span the years from 1850 to 1959 and consist of births, marriages and deaths from different districts of the Bahamas. Public registration of records in the Bahamas dates back to 1764, but it was only in 1862 with the creation of the Registry of Records that public registration of major life events became commonplace. Below is an example of Bahamas birth records from 1870. This collection can be searched by first and last name. Access is free. [Historic Bahamas Birth Marriage Death Records]
Barbados – FamilySearch.org has added some 253,000 Anglican Church parish records from Barbados. These are primarily baptism, marriage and death records spanning the years from 1637 to 1887. Some church records from other denominations are also in the collection spanning the years 1660 to 1887. This record collection can be searched by name. The records can also be browsed by parish. Civil registration only began in Barbados in 1890 for births and marriages and 1925 for deaths, so parish records are very important for anyone wanting to trace their Barbados ancestors. Access is free. [Historic Barbados Parish Records]
2013 July to December
Caribbean – Readex has begun the process of building a new online digital collection of Caribbean newspapers. The newspapers span the years from 1718 to 1876. There are 140 different titles in the collection and the newspapers come from 22 different Caribbean islands. It will take a while for the entire collection to be digitized and put online. However, this is exciting news for anyone with Caribbean ancestors. There is generally a lack of online genealogy records from the Caribbean region. This new collection should help close some of the deficit. The newspapers originate from the American Antiquarian Society. Once the digitization process is completed, this will be the largest online collection of 18th and 19th century Caribbean newspapers. For those not familiar with Readex, it is an online institutional service available at many public libraries. Check with your local branch. [Historic Caribbean Newspapers]
Jamaica – FamilySearch.org has added some 490,000 indexed records of Jamaican civil registrations. These are official birth records dating from 1880 to 1999. The records can be searched by name. Marriage and death records are also available but are currently not indexed. The entire collection consists of some 4 million images. Early Jamaican birth records can be a little sparse on details and typically list only the bare minimum. However, this is a great resource for anyone with Jamaican ancestors. Access is free. [Jamaican Birth Records]
2013 January to June
Cuba – The Cuba Genweb project maintains a database of ship passengers arriving and departing Havana Cuba in the 1800s. The database has now surpassed 130,000 records. The records can be searched by surname, first name and ship name. A typical record lists the name of the individual, the name of the ship, the port of departure, the port of arrival and the date of arrival. Most of the ships in this database came from ports along the Eastern Coast of America. Access is free. [Historic Cuba Ship Passenger List]
2012 July to December
Caribbean – A new website called Caribbean Family History has just launched with a variety of genealogy records. The main database contains some 200,000 parish burial records from Barbados. Also included are lists of minister, priests and clergy from Barbados as well as a list of Quakers from the island. The website also contains information of slave compensations for the region. Some of the records on the website also cover Antigua. Caribbean Family History is a rare example of a collaborative website containing historic Caribbean genealogy records. Access is free. [Historic Barbados Parish Burial Records]
Caribbean – The UK National Archives has put online at Flickr a collection of historic Caribbean photos. The images are organized by country and show a variety of important events and images of various towns and cities over the years. Access is free. [Historic Caribbean Images]
Caribbean – The UK National Archives has released another tranche of colonial administration records. These are wide-ranging administrative records from various colonies and territories within the British Empire. The link provides a list of when the colonial administration files will be available by territory. Access to the underlying records is by subscription. [UK Colonial Administration Records]
Dominican Republic – FamilySearch.org has created a new browsable image collection of genealogy records for the Dominican Republic. This is an eclectic collection of some 731,000 images of records from the National Archives in Santo Domingo. It includes such items as residency permits, passenger arrival and departure lists, immigration tax exemption requests and other immigration-related correspondence. Most of the records deal with immigration. The collection spans the years 1921 to 1980 with the majority of the collection dating from the 1950s. This would be a good collection to look at if your ancestors migrated from the Dominican Republic. Access is free. [Dominican Republic Immigration Records]
Caribbean – GenealogyInTime Magazine has added 400 million new records to their two free search engines. The Genealogy Search Engine (which covers ancestral records) now searches an additional 100 million more records, while the Family Tree Search Engine (which covers genealogy forums and online family trees) searches approximately 300 million more records.
In total, the two search engines now cover 5.7 billion records across more than 1,000 different websites (split between the Genealogy Search Engine covering 1.9 billion records and the Family Tree Search Engine covering 3.8 billion records – there is no overlap of records between the two search engines).
GenealogyInTime Magazine now gets over 40,000 queries per month for the two search engines. This makes them one of the most popular alternatives to the FamilySearch website for people wanting to look for free ancestral records. Significant holdings exist for the United States, Canada, England/Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Continental Europe, Australia and New Zealand with minor holdings for the Caribbean, South America and South Africa.
Some of the highlights of the latest addition to the Genealogy Search Engine include:
• 55 million new records for the United States and 6 million new records for Canada. These are primarily ancestral records held in digital archives of public libraries and universities across North America. Many of these new records are historic photographs.
• 23 million new records for England, Ireland and Scotland. These are primarily twentieth century obituaries.
• 14 million new records for Europe. These are primarily birth/marriage/death records from Central and Eastern Europe.
• 2 million more ship passenger records.
In this latest release, the search routines for both search engines have also been strengthened to provide better results. In addition, the number of returned records for a search query has been increased from 8 pages to 10 pages. Finally, results are delivered even faster than before.
Access to both search engines is free and the underlying records are also free. [Genealogy Search Engine] [Family Tree Search Engine] GenealogyInTime Magazine also has a number of genealogy articles to help you become better at online genealogy searches.
GenealogyInTime Magazine is the world’s most popular online genealogy magazine. It is also now the fifth largest free genealogy website in the world (according to Alexa, the internet traffic people, the largest free genealogy websites in order are FamilySearch, Find A Grave, Geni, GeneaNet and GenealogyInTime Magazine).
2012 January to June
Commonwealth – The UK National Archives working with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is going to release colonial administration records over the next year. This is a wide-ranging collection of records associated with the colonial administration of many of the UK’s former overseas territories and protectorates such as the Bahamas, Fiji, Jamaica, Kenya, Palestine, Uganda, etc. It does not cover some of the larger Commonwealth countries such as Canada, Australia or New Zealand.
The records will be released in batches over the next year according to the schedule posted on the website of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. In total, 38 countries/regions are represented, with the greatest concentrations in the Caribbean and Africa. Most of the countries on the list traditionally lack good genealogy records. This could be a very valuable collection for anyone with ancestors from these regions. [Colonial Administration Records]
2011 July to December
Dominican Republic – FamilySearch has added 790,000 records from the civil registration of the Dominican Republic. The records span the years from 1801 to 2006. Access is free. [Dominican Republic Civil Registration Genealogy Records]
Jamaica – FamilySearch has added over 450,000 new birth records. The civil birth records cover the period 1878 to 1899 while the parish birth records cover the Clarendon and Trelawny parishes and span the years 1878 to 1930. Access is free. [Jamaica Historic Birth Records]
US & Caribbean – The Library of Congress has digitized its historic piracy collection, with some of the documents going back to the 1600s. Many of the documents involve reports on the trials of various pirates, both famous and obscure (see image below for the infamous Captain Kidd). Most pirates lived short, brutal lives and thus often did not leave descendants. Nevertheless, piracy was a major influence on the early history of the Caribbean and the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, a fact that is often overlooked today. These documents provide unique insight into the lives of many who lived during the period. [Library of Congress Piracy Trial Collection]
Jamaica – The National Library of Jamaica (NLJ) has begun the process of digitizing historic documents, photographs and maps. NLJ is also digitizing and storing current Jamaican publications on its website. The digitization project is still in its pilot stage, but the digital collection is already fairly extensive. Some of the material dates back to the 1600s. Access is free. [Historic Jamaican Photos, Maps and Documents]
2010 January to June
St. Kitts–Nevis – The National Archives of St. Kitts-Nevis has launched a new website called Basseterre, Past & Present. The purpose of the site is to “present the evolution of Basseterre through the records and images held in [the National Archives] repositories”. Included are articles, historic photos and newspaper clippings. One thing that is not currently on the website is the Registry of Slaves. St. Kitts is one of the few Caribbean islands that preserved the registry of slaves. Originally established ten years after England abolished the slave trade in 1807, the registry of slaves was actually created by abolitionists on the island who wanted to keep track of people to ensure that no new slaves were smuggled onto the island. The original list contained some 20,000 names. It was updated every three years. However, it is difficult to trace family connections through the registry of slaves since family connections was not the intended purpose of the document. The registry instead lists name, age, sex, colour, place of birth and occupation. Note: this website is a work in progress. Access is free. [Historic Basseterre Genealogy Records]