The Guyana / British Guiana Genealogical Society

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Sources

Sources of vital records and documents (see also, Vital Records link on above menu bar)

Although the vital records (from 1880 forward) are in Guyana, at present, there is no known way of someone outside the country getting access to them or of ordering copies. Even if one was in Guyana there would be difficulty in accessing records at the National Archives as they are available only on Friday. Too, many of the documents are in very bad condition.

Many researchers have sent written requests to various Government departments but never receive a reply. A very lucky few have had success with writing to churches for their records, but even the churches rarely reply to letters or requests, even when money is offered or enclosed with the request.

GUYANA NATIONAL ARCHIVES

The Archives were moved from the original building on Main Street to a new building on Homestretch Avenue, D'urban Park.   This blog site shows a photo of the new building.

The archives has a large Immigrant Records Department. The holdings of this department are: 1) Overall view of holdings,   2) Immigrant Death Registers, and    3) Summary of Immigration Department holdings [NOTE: These are PDF files, regquiring the free Adobe Reader}

It is feared that time, weather, and lack of preservation have diminished what was there originally. Just what records are contained in the Guyana National Archives? According to librarian Arthur E. Gropp of the New Orleans Middle American Research Institute at Tulane University of Louisiana in his book "Guide to libraries and archives in Central America and the West Indies, Panama, Bermuda and British Guiana" of 1941 the following records are held (partial listing, as of 1941):

A collection of 30 titles of newspapers, the earliest being the Berbice Gazette, 1818; the Demerara and Essequebo Gazette, 1819; and the Guiana Chronicle, 1819-1841. [NOTE: Printing introduced to BG in December 1790. The first newspaper was printed on November 1, 1793. --------------WEBBER. "Centenary history & handbook of British Guiana, 1931, p. 109. The colonial Secretary reported May 30, 1940, that the introduction of printing took place in 1793 [after Roday, The Press in British Guiana, 1918] and that the first title may have been the "Essequebo and Demerary Council"]
Administrative papers of Berbice
Military Register, 1766-1796
Blue Book of Berbice, 1830-31
Blue Book of British Guiana, 1844-1856
Blue Book of Demerara & Essequebo, 1821, 1827-28, 1830-31
Land Grants
Petitions, 1813-1830
Dispatches, Berbice 1812-1823
Account Book, Rio Demerary, 1794-1796
Registrar's Office Georgetown (almost all records prior to 1803 are in Dutch) agreements, 1770-
Contracts, 1770-
Deeds of release of apprenticeship, 1836 (indentureship records)
Leases, 1770 - ?
Mortgages, 1870
Parish population records
Plans of plots (originals)
Royal Gazette (1841- ) [Official Gazette from 1851 - ]
Suits (law)
Transports, 1770 - (deeds to land in Essequebo and Demerara; Berbice are in New Amsterdam)
Property Register (A book for each district by names of places and urban districts by ward; also includes encumbrances on property)
Registrar General Office - Births, 1869 - , Deaths, 1869 - , Marriages 1903 - (for earlier records see church records for baptisms, marriages & burials)

CENSUS
There were census taken in colonial British Guiana. An editorial of the Stabroek News ("Records", December 30, 2003) cited the census as follows:

" From around the middle of the nineteenth century, there are the census records, complete sequences of which are held in the PRO, and incomplete ones locally. In addition, it should also be noted that the registration of births, deaths and marriages became a requirement in the nineteenth century too. These records, however, are not deposited in the Guyana National Archives, but in the Office of the Registrar General, which falls under the auspices of the Ministry of Home Affairs, not the Ministry of Culture. Its registration records date back to 1865, while it also is a repository for some, although not all, of the shipping records. For some time now it has been facilitating members of the public on Fridays who wish to trace their own family members."

This indicates that the Guyana public can view the Birth, Marriage and Death records on Fridays at the Ministry of Home Affairs. No additional information is known at the present time.

CHURCH RECORDS
Church Records search suggestions are now contained on a separate page - click here

How can we to verify our ancestors' births, deaths, marriages?
   Various Records: For those ancestors who remained in Guyana in the 1940s to mid 1960s prior to emigrating, they may be listed in the "Who's Who in Guyana, 1945-1948" - probably depending on their job and status. This listing may be available on microfilm at the Mormon Church Family History Centers.
   Newspaper Resources: When British Guiana gained independence in 1966, the British did take back to England with them copies of many colonial newspapers, among them, the Argosy and the Colonist (for early 19th century).. Luckily they did, as births, marriages and death notices weThe Liberalre printed in the newspaper and these may be our only source of getting this data. These newspapers are housed in two sites in London, England, however, the newspapers are not indexed. A wonderful lady named, Inge Veecock, indexed the entries from the Argosy and Colonist papers. The indexes are available in London libraries and also at the Mormon Church Salt Lake City library. The book or microfilm of the index book may possibly be loaned on order at your local Mormon Church Family HIstory Center. A listing of the newspapers of pre-1966 newspapers has been listed from the British Library catalogue where they have copies of the newspapers on microfilm. For more information go to our Newspaper Listing page.

OTHER RECORDS:
The following Guyana addresses are provided with the caution that they may not have the staff or resources with which to reply:.

Transcriptions

    All those searching for British Guiana colonial record transcriptions know that there are few records that have been transcribed and available for research. Recently, a few British Guiana Directories have become available for transcription and one, the 1904 Directory, has been transcribed by this site's webmaster. Additionally, event calendars contained in the directory have been transcribed and are also available for viewing - see Transcriptions.
    Also available through the Mormon church's library system are two volumes of BMDs (Births, Marriage and Death notices) from early Argosy and Chronicle newspapers, transcribed by Inge Veecock.

More SUGGESTIONS

Online Web sites with online data re Colonial British Guiana:

Immigrants to US:     For those who immigrated to the U. S., a Freedom of Information Act request addressed to your local Immigration office may yield a copy of the birth and marriage records, along with the parents' names and other relatives, and usually a photo (mug shot like passports which aren't very flattering, but a photo none the less). Although they may charge for sending copies of these documents to you, they sometimes do not charge a fee. To order this way, one must have patience and be prepared to wait up to a full year. There is a very good chance that your patience will be rewarded. You can download the required form from the web site which makes it very easy.  Another source for those who immigrated to the U.S. are death records. Death certificates will most often contain names of parents, birth date, and more. If you don't know for sure when your ancestor died but know the location, a search of nearby cemeteries might result in finding your ancestor's burial place and possible records the cemetery may have.

Guyana Lists online: There is a Guyana web site on which most pages were offline (when checked in early 2006) however one or two pages remain - The National Trust of Guyana. This page lists some names of persons buried in Guyana. Another partial page still online from 2002, has African slave information.

Immigrants to Europe/Canada: For those who emigrated to Europe and Canada, check with those countries for immigration documents.

Sugar Plantation Records: Because the early colony was dominated by the sugar industry, many of us have references to a plantation or estate with our ancestors. We have begun listing the estates and plantations as we hear references to them and their locations on our Plantations and Estates page.

Other methods a researcher can employ include:

1. Communicate.........It is always a good idea to visit online genealogy sites and, if they have a message board, post a query (message) stating the full name of the ancestor you are seeking, the era of time they lived in Guyana, and where they lived (i.e., Berbice, Essequebo, etc.). You may be very pleasantly surprised that a fellow Guyanese might have access to records or even be a relative and able to assist you!!!     Visit the following sites:

2. Seek ....

Genealogical Sites: Although genealogical sites, whether free or for a fee, do not have Guyanese records online, a researcher may find something on the surname of interest. There are many genealogical sites:

Guyana Schools

Central High School - Alumni - Toronto
Berbice High School St Philips Anglican School - Georgetown (no online source)
St. Joseph's High School - Alumni - Toronto
Bishops' High School - Alumni - Toronto Tutorial High School - Alumni
McKenzie High School   Tutorial High School - Alumni
North Georgetown Secondary School (no online site found) Tutorial High School - Alumni - New York
President's College (their site is no longer online) University of Guyana

Other Online Sources:

Search by Ethnic Group -

(now on a separate page - click here)

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