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African and African-Caribbean family history

Dyche collection - Family portrait

Introduction

This web page is about sources for tracing your family history if you are from an African, or African-Caribbean background. As with all genealogical research, it is worthwhile talking to relatives, and friends of the family before you start. You may then have information about names, dates and places which will help identify members of your family in records when you do your research.


Sources in Birmingham Central Library


Archives and Heritage Service, Floor 6
If your family has lived in the United Kingdom for a number of years you can start your search using the General Register Office Records, which show all births, marriages and deaths registered in England and Wales from 1837 - 1997. We also hold the International Genealogical Index for the Caribbean which is a copy of some parish registers in the area.

Photos - Dyche Collection
These are photos of people who had recently migrated to Britain, mostly from the Caribbean and from India and Pakistan who wanted to send photos home to family and friends. They came from a Birmingham studio. They date from the early 1940s to the mid 1970s. There is no index. If you would like to see these, please e-mail archives.heritage@birmingham.gov.uk

Colonial Office Records
There are various types of record, including: correspondence, returns of baptisms, Government statistics. Ask at the Archives and Heritage at the counter on floor 6 in Central Library for the book Tracing Your West Indian Ancestors, by Guy Grannum, which gives more information about the resources in the Public Records Office.

Black History in Birmingham

There are a number of sources in Archives and Heritage (Floor 6), and in Information Services (Floor 4). Please ask at the counter on floor 6 for the bibliography: Sources for the Study of the History of Black People in Birmingham.

On Floor 6 we also hold the Black and Asian Studies Association Newsletter, [B941.004] which features some family history records.

Archives and Heritage also has a collection of historical maps of Africa and the Caribbean.

Black history material in the Central Library


National Sources

The National Archives, Kew (Tel: 020 8876 3444)
www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/familyhistory/

You may also be interested in this part of the National Archives web site www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/pathways/blackhistory/


Immigration
There are various papers relating to foreigners who were granted permission to settle in Britain from 1793 onwards. (There is also a Museum of Immigration in Spitalfields, London E1)

Colonial Office Records
There are various types of record, including: correspondence, returns of baptisms, Government statistics. Ask at the Archives and Heritage counter for the book Tracing Your West Indian Ancestors, by Guy Grannum, which gives more information about the resources in the Public Records Office. Continuing your search in this country and abroad

Birmingham Library Services offer free access to the Internet (Please enquire at any counter if you want to book a particular time), so you may be able to do further research in Birmingham. Some websites for other countries include online records so that you can search from this country. Some list sources only, so you will need to correspond with, or visit the country.

You may also find information about your family on passenger-lists: www.cyndislist.com and in Ancestry Library Edition which is now available FREE on computers in Birmingham Libraries.

International records

Africa
AfricaGenWeb Project
www.africagenweb.org/

South Africa
http://home.global.co.za/~mercon

Caribbean
CaribbeanGenWeb Project
www.rootsweb.com/~caribgw

Try the CaribbeanGenWeb's 'clickable' map of the Caribbean region for more information on Caribbean genealogy
www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~caribgw/map.html

Registrar Generals Office (Jamaica)
Twickenham Park,
Spanish Town,
Jamaica, West Indies
(Civil registration began in 1880)
www.rgd.gov.jm

Some African and African-Caribbean countries may not have had the same type of government registration that existed in the UK from 1837. There may be other records which could help your research; for example church records, diaries, censuses, criminal records and land sales.


Further reading

Crooks, Paul Ancestors, Black Amber, 2002. ISBN 190196907X
Fictionalised account of a personal family history from Africa to Britain via the Caribbean.

Grannum, Guy Tracing your West Indian Ancestors, Public Record Office, 2002. ISBN 1 903 365 384

Kershaw, Roger & Pearsall, Mark Immigrants and Aliens: a guide to sources on UK immigration and citizenship Public Records Office, 2000. ISBN 1 873 162 944

Please note We are not responsible for the content of other organisations' websites.


Where to find us?
Archives and Heritage Service,
Floor 6, Central Library, B3 3HQ
Tel: 0121 303 4549 Fax: 0121 464 0993

Email: archives.heritage@birmingham.gov.uk


Local History Menu
Features on Black History in Birmingham Menu
Censuses
Parish Registers - Church of England
Electoral Registers
International Genealogical Index (IGI)
Trade Directories
GRO Indexes
CD-ROMs & the Internet for family history