The Barbados Gazette
The Barbados Advocate
Newspaper publications before the 1950s, seldom featured rank and file Afro-Barbadians. However, they still are a valuable source of information, particularly for the slavery period where advertisements of runaways and property sales were frequent.
Centuries-old editions Barbados newspapers are available on microfilm in the Barbados National Library in Bridgetown. Many are coming online every day. The Barbadian, The Barbados Gazette, and other publications are available to institutions by subscription and online at Readex.com. Other public library and university databases also offer online access. The University of Miami has a free online Caribbean Digital Newspaper Collection for that is searchable online.
The 1947 article above reports the death of James Nathaniel Lovell, better known as “Brother Lally” or “Brother Laddy,” as he was called in the Lovell family. He was a well known itinerant Pentecostal preacher who crisscrossed the island serving up “delectable dishes” at open-air services and as a visiting minister in the Pentecostal churches at Top Rock, Sargeant’s Village, Four Roads, Sion Hill, and other places. To learn more, see the page entitled “Brother Laddy.”
BOOKS, JOURNALS, PAPERS
Caution must be taken when relying on books written about Afro-Ancestors during the colonial era. Many are tainted with the racists’ sentiments of the day. Contemporary authors of Caribbean history and life, present Afro-Barbados ancestors from positions of empowerment, rather than as passive actors in a political environment that denounced everything, Black. Pencil Sketches of Barbadian Life for example also contains an article about my g-grandfather, James Nathaniel Lovell, aka Brother Lally. Excerpt:
“Mother Nature was not in very lavish mood when she built Brother Lally for she fashioned him on lines of strict economy. About five feet seven in height, he is spare of form, and his wizened spectacled face gives him an air of asceticism which makes one think of Gandhi; nor does the resemblance end there – in many ways he can lay claim to the title of Bimshire’s meek man of might. Like the Mahatma, he knows how to subordinate his physical shortcomings to his will, and his personality rises above such inconsequential deficiencies as lack of inches and avoirdupois.”
Books are precious sources when researching family history. They give meat, context to the names and dates that you uncover. The internet is an excellent source for free books about Barbados history. One of my favorites is free Google e-books. This search results in both informational text and fiction.
Your public libraries, universities and history institutions, including their online databases, are also good sources for published sources about Barbados history and culture.
Artists of the day made regular depictions of everyday life in Barbados. Portraits, group photos, landscapes, lithographs, prints, etc. can provide a sense for the environments where ancestors lived and worked.
One of my favorite photos can be found at the Atlantic hotel. It is a painting depicting the Barbados railroad of 1937. It helps me to imagine my Taitt ancestors fishing and working in that area of St. Joseph.