Note: If you have not used the Family History Centers of the Mormon Church before, go 'back' to the index page and read the beginning of the section on the IGI and Anglican Church Records
Civil Registration began in Jamaica in 1878 as opposed to England when it began in 1837 and Scotland when 1862 was the initial date. The Government as compared to the church, began to keep records of births, deaths and marriages. The originals of the Jamaican records are held in the Registrar General's Department in Spanish Town, Jamaica, however the LDS Church (Mormon) has filmed these records and they are available through their Family History Centers,worldwide. Find a Family History Center Near You
Civil Registration is cataloged by Parish, so you need to know the parish of your ancestor, otherwise it will be a long but not impossible search. There are indexes for marriages and deaths, but to the time of this writing, not all the all island birth indexes have been released. There are however birth indexes within each parish.
To find the numbers of the index films, you look under Jamaica (not West Indies)/Civil Registration/indexes in the Family History Library catalog (FHL catalog). This is on CDrom or microfiche or on the LDS Website . Some CDrom versions do not have the Civil Registration indexes, so check the microfiche.
Indexes on film go from 1878 to 1930, however, the underlying films for the actual records may take you up to later than 1950. This depends on the parish, so check both the index and actual records film records in the FHL catalog for dates, before you conclude that the record is not available. These index films are high density films, 42X, 16mm, so when you go in to the center to read them, you need a microfilm reader which will read this type of film. Where reservation of readers is necessary make sure you reserve the right kind of reader. So that you don't have to return to the index film, write down everything associated with the record.
Richard Saunders has provided a helpful list of the districts of each parish and the codes that were used. Codes for Districts by Parish, Jamaica
After identifying the date and district and number of the record location, you need to return to the FHL catalog, to verify the correct film for the record. The actual record is on a film under Parish/Jamaica/Civil Registration/. It is important to list the parish first in the search engine beause the certificate films are listed by Parish. There are separate films for births, deaths and marriages by date. The original records were individual certificates tied in bundles and the filming involved placing each on a surface and filming it. Within a parish, there were many districts, identified at the beginning of each film, so make sure you have located the right district, before you give up. There are stamped numbers and handwritten numbers on the certificates. Make sure you are reading the right number from the index. Some of the numbers on certificates overlapped between districts.
Births The following items will generally be found on a birth certificate. (Example: Year 1910)
Heading: Birth in the District of ____Parish of______
Date and Place of Birth
Name (if any)
Name and Surname and Dwelling place of Father
Name and Surname and Maiden Surname of Mother
Rank or Profession of Father
Signature, qualification and Residence of Informant
Baptismal Name if added after Registration
Footer: Signature of Informant Name of Registrar District Parish
An abbreviated square copy of this registration containing the name of the child and date was given to the parents in later years, but it was not considered a certified copy if, for example, you wished to obtain a passport.
Marriages. The following items would be expected on a marriage registration (Example: Year 1893)
Heading: Marriage Register
Name and Surname of parties
Condition (e.g Widower, Spinster)
Parish and Residence at the time of Marriage
Fathers Name and Surname of each party
Footer: Married at_____ by or before me ________, a Marriage Officer of the Parish of _________
This Marriage was celebrated between us ________ (Signatures of each party) in the presence of us ___________ (Signatures of two witnesses)
Deaths. The following items would be expected on the Death Registration (Example: Year 1899)
Header: Death in the District of ______ Parish of ________
Date and Place of Death
Name and Surname
Condition (Married, single)
Age last Birthday
Rank, Profession or Occupation
Certified cause of Death and duration of illness (name of certifier)
Signature, Qualification and Residence of Informer
Footer: Signed by the said (informant) in the presence of__________Registrar of Births and Deaths________District, Parish of _____________
As you can see there is a significant amount of information on each certificate, so even if you already know the date of an event, it is well worthwhile collecting a copy of the certificate.
In Family History centers that have them, you may be able to make a photocopy from the film on a film reader/copier for a small fee. If not, you can fill out a form, available from the center, with the pertinent information, film Number, date, event, names and page number, and send to Salt Lake City for a copy. Currently in the U.S. the Minimum is $2.00, or 25 cents per entry, so you can get 8 copies for a minimum. Even if you have one entry it can be worth it, because they try to make the best copies even if the ink is smeared. And if you are not handy with reader/copiers you may make a few errors before you get a useable copy.