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Rooting for Roots

This website page was updated on 29 April 1999

You are invited to participate in completing the story of the early Chinese immigrants who came to work as indentured labourers on the sugar plantations of British Guiana, now known as Guyana. Knowledge of their history and lives has not been sufficiently gathered and with the passing of the generations the sources of information become so much less. Any assistance you can provide to add to the data collection would be most helpful. Here's how:


Talk with those of the older generation. Write down their recollections of the past events as well as the situations and circumstances they encountered. Providing a prompt, such as a name, event, or place, can sometimes be a good catalyst for the memory.


The attic, basement, old trunk or album could have valuable records from the 19th century. Some examples are documents for birth, baptism, residence, marriage, licence (dog, mule, gun, business, etc.), property, travel, and death as well as letters, diaries, memoirs and photographs. Records that include Chinese characters would be particularly useful.


There are extensive inter-relationships between the families of Chinese ancestry showing up in databases (currently containing more than 9000 names) which are being maintained by several genealogists. Even so, there are several persons who are unsure about the exact family connections because they were orphans or became estranged from the family as a result of personal or geographical distances. There may be other people who, through marriage ties, business or social connections, are more familiar with the family in question and can fill in the information.

Reach Out

Check the Reach Out page for ongoing searches for information about ancestors, families and relatives.


Information about the Chinese in Guyana can be found in the following publications:

The Chinese in British Guiana by Cecil Clementi, The Argosy Co., Georgetown 1915. (Out of print. Consult your library resources for a microfilmed copy).

Scenes from the History of the Chinese in Guyana by Marlene Kwok Crawford, Demerara Publishers, 1989.

From the Middle Kingdom to the New World by Margery Kirkpatrick, Margery Kirkpatrick, Georgetown, 1993.

Indentured Labor, Caribbean Sugar by Walton Look Lai, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 1993.

The Chinese in Guyana: The Making of a Creole Community by Laura J. Hall, Ph.D. thesis, University of California, Berkeley, 1995.

The Chinese in the West Indies 1806-1995: A Documentary History by Walton Look Lai, UWI Press, Jamaica, 1998.


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