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British Guiana Directories (& Almanack) and Diaries Transcribed

Thanks to Tim Smellie who found some rare old British Guiana Directories in his Aunt's possession and has shared them with us. Transcription of these 6 directories was completed on September 2008. Transcription was done by Sharon Anderson and V. Davies.

The British Guiana Almanacks were books printed annually by the printers in Georgetown; alternating from Robert Short at the Argosy Newspaper Office and the Chronicle's office.  The books contain a brief history of the country, an almanack, overview of laws, charts of crop production, and the more recent ones had directories of persons living in the colony. They were meant to be used for merchants and for businessmen outside the colony for contact information.

What can you expect to find in these directories?    The directories are similar to "phone book" entries, however, the directories usually indicate the person's occupation and employer.    These listings will confirm that an ancestor did indeed live in the colony in the preceding year or year of the directory; where they lived (in some cases)and their occupation and employer. This is indeed minimal data but many of us are grateful for even this since we are without access to any official records.

The drawback of the directories is that many people, who were certainly living there, are often not listed in the directory.   The process of compiling the listing is unknown but it is suspected that the listing would be submitted by employers and organizations each year. In such a process, surely some employers failed to submit an annual listing of employees and thus, some people who surely lived in the colony were not listed.  Often, a person's name may not be in the Directory section of the book yet be listed as employee in the Merchant's section where owners and employees were listed together or they may be found listed as a member of a club or organization under those sections.

The earlier British Guiana books were called "Diaries" and contained a "Trades List" where businesses were listed along with all their clerks and employees and a "Directory" which was a summary of all the church personnel in the colony.   In later years, the Directory became a true listing of persons living in the colony sorted by Surname.    The 1860 listing below was compiled from the Trades and Directory (Church personnel) paragraphs into a "listing".

The listings are inconsistent in spelling and in content and many persons are listed without an occupation or residential address. Further, there were many spelling inconsistentcies for common locations; i.e., "Essequibo" was just as often seen as "Essequebo". For the 1898 and 1904 directories, the listings have not been sorted to correct the many entries which were not in alphabetical order.   The 1880 listing, however, has been modified to correct the alpha order.

The data has been transcribed "as it was found" - including misspellings. There is an overwhelming number of persons employed as "clerks", many religious occupations, many compositors, and a handful of "Gold diggers", "miners", "secretary" or farmers, woodcutters, botantists, gardeners, etc.

NOTE:    Many entires are NOT in alphabetical order and have been transcribed as per the original.  In the era these directories were printed, all printing was done with typesetting by hand - which would make alphabetizing impractical, so look in all areas near the surname you are searching for. All documents are presented as Adobe PDF files, requiring the free Adobe Reader software.

NOTE: (May 5, 2015) Research Consultant, Joanne Collins-Gonsalves, Ph.D., reports that the Guyana National Library holds the following yearly directories:

1825,1861,1862,1866,1875-1883, 1888-1892,1893, 1896, 1898, 1902, 1909 and 1922. She reports also that some of the directories are quite fragile. Of their holdings, this site has transcriptions of three-1888, 1889 and 1898.

1860 - An "Assembled" Directory:

To search, Click on the letter or group to open the corresponding 1860 PDF file

1880 British Guiana Directory:     Transcription Completed 20 February 2008


To search, Click on the first letter of the surname to open the corresponding 1880 Transcription PDF file.
   G  H
   I - J
   K - L
S  T   U - V  W - Z      

1882 British Guiana Directory & Almanack - Transcription Complete (Sept 1 2008)

A        B      C      D           F      G      H     I - K      L     M      N -to O     P- Q      R       S     T    U-V     W-Z

1889 British Guiana Directory & Almanack - Transcription Complete 7/21/08

To Search, click on the letter which represents the first letter of the desired surname sought; All files are PDF
   A    B    C    D    E    F    G    H  I-J   K   L   M
   N   and    O    P   and    Q    R    S    T    U   and    V   W     Y   and     Z        

1898 Search the Directory:       Transcription COMPLETED 15 Jan 2008 !!

To search, Click on the first letter of the surname to open the corresponding 1898 Transcription PDF file.  .
   G  H    K
R   S    T   UV  W  XYZ      

1904 British Guiana Directory

To search, Click on the first letter of the surname to open the corresponding 1904 Transcription PDF file
   H    J    K
   T    W    XYZ  


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