Getting Started – Researching Your Roots

Researching you family roots from the Caribbean involves searching documents specific to Caribbean interest, key oral history information gathered from our elders in the community – families, friends and associates. To establish relationship of the individual being researched requires determination of the identity by analysing specific facts known to determine kinship such as the parent, wife, mother, son, daughter, niece, nephew and godparents.

To begin, I would encourage you to make a start by completing either the family group sheet or pedigree chart to begin to visualise your ancestral line with information that you have gathered. For example, the Smith family, see below.

Case study: tracing the names of grandparents

Grandmother Marion Green born about 1920 in May Pen, Clarendon Jamaica to mother Mary Brown and George Green. Initial enquiries reveals that  Marion Green married James Smith in 1948 in Clarendon.You are tracing the grandparents of Marion Green

  • For this scenario when completing the pedigree chart or family group sheet, birth date for Marion Brown will be an estimation and would be entered on the sheet as being born about 1920 – this then has to be corroborated with physical evidence such as a birth certificate to obtain the exact date of birth.
  • Consider that mother of Marion, Mary Brown may have been a widow or spinster at time of birth of Marion. This will require confirmation by searching the birth index for the parish of Clarendon for birth mother Brown, Mary. Names are listed by the first letter of the last name. I would suggest searching within  years ranging from 1915 – 1920.
  • Results of search:  birth index shows that Mary Brown had registered children James in 1915, Ann Marion in 1918 and George on 1920 – all born in Clarendon

In this case, not only the year of birth was located for an Ann Marion other potential siblings were found. This will require further investigation to confirm the names through identifying the location(s) of birth in common from information shared during initial enquiries. Information gathered from the index will refer to the appropriate birth record for each individual.

Further suggestions:

  • Marion Green is most likely to be the same Ann Marion registered to Mary Brown, mother born in 1918. Illustrating that Mary Brown was unmarried at the time of birth of Marion Green. Further discussions with family members will confirm the names of aunts and uncles – siblings of Ann Marion born to Mary Brown.
  • Mary Brown had children prior to marriage, she may have married George Green after 1920
  • Locate the marriage record for Mary Brown and George Green from the marriage index with date ranges from 1920 – 1950
  • Marriage record will show who represented the bride and groom as fathers. Further search of birth and marriages records of the fathers listed as representing the bride and groom may provide information on the names of the grandparents for Marion Green.

Provided below are links to Pedigree Chart and Family Group Record Sheet. Designed and published by The Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints. It is free to download.

Family Group Record (pdf)

Pedigree Chart (pdf)


Sharon Tomlin © 2010