THE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM
Barbados Ancestry is a website specifically geared towards helping persons who are researching their complex Barbados family lineages. The few Barbados genealogical guides in existence today do correctly point out that there are specific challenges to doing this research given the invisibility of people of color in the historical record. This is why here at Barbados Ancestry, you will be guided by proven research methodologies and led to viable documentary evidence relating to the lives of your Bajan ancestors. Much of the information presented here is drawn from my twenty plus years of genealogical research experience and my insatiable desire for more fully exploring and appreciating Barbados social history.
There are many benefits to exploring and discovering your family history. Chief among them is the satisfaction you get from understanding the paths your ancestors took, how that impacts on you today, and where you go in the future. As the family history investigator, you will make lots of exciting discoveries and relish the task of fitting all the pieces together. Family history research is a cooperative effort that has the potential for bringing family members together and for bridging differences. It will definitely help you to more fully explore your personal identity and give you a greater understanding of the national Bajan experience as we traveled the on a long road to independence.
When an enslaved Barbadian was asked about relocating to another colony, he replied “Here we are born, and here are the graves of our fathers. Can we say to their bones, arise and go with us into a foreign land?”[ii] This, according to Professor Hilary Beckles, is proof that Afro-Barbadians, like their African ancestors, had a long history of concern for and about their families and ancestry.
Far too many of us believe that slavery rendered the recovery of Black ancestry challenging, if not impossible. But times have changed. The availability of surviving documentary evidence of the lives of our Barbadian ancestors have improved over the years, and the digital age has made these records more accessible than ever. DNA research now makes it possible to identify family linkages in Barbados and all across the world.
We are the carriers of family history, and we have an essential role in helping to recover, collect and document our stories. Barbados Ancestry’s goal then is to help those who want to investigate their ancestry, record their findings and make Barbados family history available to current and future generations.
[i]Alex Haley, Roots: The Saga of an American Family, (New York: Double Day, 1974).
[ii] Interview with Etta Cox, 1993, St. Michael Barbados
[i] Barry Higman, Slave Population and Economy in Jamaica 1807-1834, (Kingston: The Press University of the West Indies, 1976), 148.
[ii] Hilary Beckles, Natural Rebels: A social history of enslaved black women in Barbados, (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1989), 121-123.
[iii] Jerome Handler, “Land Exploitative Activities and Economic Patterns in a Barbados Village.” (unpublished Ph.D. diss., Brandeis, 1965), http://jeromehandler.org/category/ph-d-dissertation-1965/. (Accessed April 12, 2012).