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.
As of 2013 the LDS has not only filmed but digitized many (to about 1920 in some cases) of Civil Registration records of Jamaican births, marriages and deaths in that order. They may be searched for on their website at familysearch.org.
You can limit the search by type to births and baptisms, to marriages, or to deaths (see the left hand panel). For country you put in of course Jamaica. You do not need to put in the parish but if you know it, it can reduce the search time. You can input the parents for births and fathers for marriage to reduce the search if you have a common last name. e.g. Smith. In order to see the images of original certificates of the Civil Registration you need to sign in as you will see on the lower right hand side. To sign in you need a username and password, but the searches are free. You do not need to pay, so it just involves setting them up once. You can print out these certificates which are also free. See down below for what may be expected on birth, death and marriage certificates
If you do not find your family members in the search above you still maybe able to find them on microfilms in one of the LDS Family Search Centers, worldwide.
First. Find the Family History Center near you
Second. Find the film in the Family Search/Family History Library Catalog on-line
Third. Order the film Through the on-line ordering system
Fourth. After a few weeks, if the microfilm has come in, go and read the film at the center. Print copies. Document your sources.
So First. Find the Family History Center near you
Your first task will be to determine the closest Family History Center near you. You can look it up on the Family History site. Find a Family Search Center Near You If you want to know more about Family History or Family Search Centers, click for Family History or FamilySearch Center Description. Alternatively to do this, look in the local telephone yellow pages under Churches and find the listing for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Phone and ask for the location of the nearest Family History Center, and the hours of opening. These centers are staffed by volunteers of the Church and so they are not always open. For example the one in Kingston, Jamaica (46 Gore Terrace) is open on Tuesdays 9am - 4 pm at present. In large cities, you may want to also ask if there are times for signing up for use of computers, or film or fiche readers. Your first visit may not yield great quantities of information, but you should feel some accomplishment at learning to use the catalog and the equipment for reading the films, or using the computer. If you feel uneasy with unfamiliar computers or microfilm readers and printers, you should try asking for help, the volunteers in the centers are ready to help you to master the equipment. You just have to ask. Another word of reassurance, volunteers do not try to convert you to their religious beliefs, and welcome people of all faiths. The tenets of their belief, require them to undertake genealogical research on their own families, which is why they have made the most extensive collection of records in the world, which they are willing to share with everyone.
Second. Find the films in the Family Search/Family History Library Catalog on-line
The films of the Mormons are cataloged. This source is called the FamilySearch Library Catalog or Family History Library (FHL) catalog. .
Civil Registration is cataloged by Parish, so it is best if you know the parish of your ancestor, otherwise it will be a long but not impossible search. There are some indexes for births, marriages and deaths,on microfilm
Search in the catalog by clicking on Search the Catalog. Input Jamaica in the Places Box and then look for Civil Registration Indexes.
To find the numbers of the index films, you look under Jamaica (not West Indies)/Civil Registration/indexes in the Family Search Library catalog
Indexes on film go from 1878 to 1930, For example Indexes of Births 1878-1919 many missing years, Indexes of Deaths 1878-1930, and Indexes of Marriages 1871-1930 (however, the underlying films for the actual records may take you up to later than 1950 (e.g. 1995 for death records). This depends on the parish, so check both the index and actual records film records in the search 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.
Third. Order the film on-line
When you find an index film click on the film number which is in Blue. It will take you to a page for ordering online. You will see the prices for shipping the film to the Family History Center near you. (If you have not set up the family center near you there is an opportunity to do so). Follow the directions for online ordering.
Then do Fourth above. Then repeat 2-4 to find the actual record.
After identifying the date and district and number of the record location, you will need to return to the catalog, to verify the correct film for the record. The actual record is on a film under Part of Jamaica i.e. Parish/Civil Registration/. It is important to choose the parish first beause the certificate films are listed by Parish, and by district up to 1957. 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 If you are going to browse the films it is essential that you know the codes in order to find the correct film. For example: St Ann code is G, Brown's Town, St Ann is GB. If you want to get a death in Brown's town in 1929 make sure the film has GB records on it, in this case: The correct film is film 1699071 items 24-32, an International film located in the Granite Mountain Vault. (The latter means it might take a little longer to come from Salt Lake to Your Family Search Center because it has to be copied first).
Note the codes are detailed until 1957 when a new Format was started according to the Familysearch site. Ordering the film takes place in the FamilySearch Center. If they are already in the center, for example in London, you can read them there. If they have to come from Salt Lake City it costs a minemal amount to order a film, and then you can read them in the Center near you.
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 if you are browsing. 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 Search 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 costs, with the pertinent information, film Number, date, event, names and page number, and send to Salt Lake City for a copy. 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.