Old Barbados Newspapers Are A Treasure Of History


“James Lunan Esq., late Editor of the Jamaica Despatch has been liberated from Gaol by his Excellency Sir Charles Metcalf. Mr. Lunan was imprisoned for an alledged libel on Sir Lionel Smith…” 

Canadian Firm Offers Re-Prints Of Old Barbados Newspapers & Books

I was cruising the web last week after having searched “barbados history” and I stumbled upon a Canadian firm that sells reprints of old Barbados newspapers. The reprints are bound into large format books and are quite dear, but they have posted a few pages on the web as examples that can be downloaded.

Last night Shona and I spent some time reading the old Barbados papers and talking about what was what way back then. Never mind who owned what land – we’ve been trying to figure out for years if one of our ancestors might have owned the other.

A small intimate admission from both of us to you: sometimes we imagine being able to talk to great great great great great whoever – master and slave – and showing them our life together. One of us says “What do you think?” while the other one says “Take that, you evil old bastard!”

Reading the February 3, 1840 edition of the “Barbados Globe and Colonial Advocate” put me in the same mood – wondering about the people who placed the adverts, wrote the stories, and sailed on the sugar ships. What would they think of Barbados now? What would they think about Shona and me and our son?

What will our descendants (God willing) think upon reading today’s Nation News or Barbados Advocate 167 years from now?

If you enjoy history, you will enjoy a visit to CanDoo.Com

Old Barbados newspaper samples can be found here.


Filed under Barbados, Culture & Race Issues, History, News Media

12 responses to “Old Barbados Newspapers Are A Treasure Of History

  1. Pat

    The publisher is a Barbadian who now lives in Canada. I think he was an airline pilot for LIAT and worked in several aviation positions. I think he is now retired and this is a pet project. He has been flogging some on the Barbados Forum. I find his Oliver collection extremely expensive. All he is doing is republishing the man’s diaries. But at such a price? I would like to know if he is paying royalties to the family or if he got permission to pubish same.

  2. John


    I think copyright expires 50 years after the authors death … not sure exactly the number of years.

    Access to old documents is very limited so anyone who goes to the trouble or expense of making them available will look for compensation.

    I suspect the person will own a copyright on the republished material as well!!

    US parents I recently discovered last for up to 21 years. After that time, the invention belongs to the public.

    Have always been curious about copyrught and patents and am still finding out stuff.

  3. Pat

    John, thanks for that bit of information.

    I was hoping to capitalize on my ancestor’s writings. lol!

  4. Jim

    I am Jim Lynch, the re-publisher of these Old Barbados Newspapers books, now resident in Toronto.

    I am a Bajan who started doing his own family’s research in 1996 when I was forced into medical retirement from flying for LIAT (based in Antigua), came to Canada to live, and discovered that these old books and newspapers were in danger of disappearing due to natural disasters, man-made disasters (lack of interest, dumping) and destruction by insects.

    So I invested a consdierable sum in finding sopies of these items and spent a long three years researching locations and persuading certain institutions to let me have copies. Some made sure I paid dearly for them – one place charged me nearly US$3 per side to photocopy, and then whacked me another enormous sum for shipping…

    The rest refused to even consider copying their precious books because they might self-destruct under the light. Biut I know that in 25 years they will have handfuls of dust – and no information – and certain other institutions will be able to boast of having an almost brand new set, available to the public… those who treated me fairly were shipped complete sets of whatever they sold me, also free of charge.

    The books are also made to last another 200 to 300 years, great care taken to compose them of quality buckram binding, double-thickness paper with the grain in the correct direction so the pages do not crack in 200 years when the papoer has dried out, carefully bound by an old-world craftsman, and so on.

    Other books made in the same quality fashion are Vere Langford Oliver’s “Caribbeana” and “History of Antigua”.

    Yes, the prices are high, but my costs were – and still are – high. I invested what little I had left in ensuting that future generations will still have access to thsese documents long after the corrupt politicians and disinterested populations have gone to their just rewards, and it is only fair that I see a small profit after years of no return.

    As to copyright, the period of coverage is 100 years. I went as far as to acquire the death certificate of Vere Langford Oliver so as to be completely sure that what I as doing would survive for the greater good.

    I did contact the Oliver family and offered them a set of eaqch free of charge, but all I received was snubs. Later there was a public comment that they deserved some royalty, but I made the effort and am within my rights to decline further contact.

    ALL of my publications and now my copyright and have ISBN numbers. They have ALL also each found free homes (cost and shipping included) in the Canadian National Archives in Ottawa, the Metro Toronto Reference Library in Toronto, the National Archives in Antigua, and the Barbados Museum Library in Barbados.

    If you check my web pages you will find a list of Universitues and Libraries who have purchased my publications. In those institutions you are free to use the books without charge.

    And don’t even consider asking me to release the sets on CD at this point. I’m not a fool, and I know the first CDs sold will be duplicated and handed around for free. There will come a time when I will make them available in digitised form, perhaps even on the internet, but that time is not right now.

    I have been looking forwards to the future, not backwards into the past, I have a wider vision of what is possible, not a narrow focus on what I can put in my pocket right now.

    Without my intervention, in one generation’s time these books would no longer be available, and all the information in them would be gone.

    That aspect is priceless.

    I am still very involved in Caribbean genealogy. I created and still administer the Caribbean Surname Index, my Caribbean Genealogy resources web pages on candoo.com, and I actively help whoever I can whenever I can.

    Thank you for your time and attention…

    Jim Lynch
    A Bajan in Toronto
    (ID “Jim Lynch” on Facebook)

  5. Pingback: Old Barbados Newspapers A Valuable Treasure - Those Who Work Hard To Preserve Them Deserve To Profit From Their Efforts & Vision « Barbados Free Press

  6. J

    “The rest refused to even consider copying their precious books because they might self-destruct under the light.:

    It is tru that light, natural or artificial is very bad for old paper.

    The Archives and the newspapers are quite right not to permit you to photocopy. They need to retain right to the orginals (not sell it to you for $3 per page)

    Once the old documents are digitized they will remain in the public domain, including being available to young scholars (without money) and publics in Barbados and abroad.

    Since you love a political fight BFP and Jim why don’t you advocate for some serious funding for the work that the Archives wants and needs to do.

    This is for the good of everybody.

  7. J

    “I did contact the Oliver family and offered them a set of eaqch free of charge, but all I received was snubs. Later there was a public comment that they deserved some royalty:

    And yes Jim, the Oliver family deserves some royalty. Maybe not a legal right, but as a moral responsibility on your part.

  8. Jim

    I did become aware of the damage light can do to old pages made with acid paper – which is what madfe me researcvh the manufacture of books and make wiser choices – but the books themselves are not what are valuable – it is the information inside. Paper dust and insect droppings are worth nothing at all.

    As I said, I offered to provide free new sets for the use of the donors so they could put their precious originals into permanent controlled storage and allow people to access the information from the new and hardy sets, but most declined. Maybe they simply did not trust me, but I provided the highest references in advance which should have taken care of that aspect.

    I have a relative who worked at a US University which had a partial set… he received special permission to make the copies himself of what was available, and now that University has two free (full, not partial) beautiful 8-volume sets of Oliver’s Caribbeana on their shelves for anyone there to use. My relative also has a full set for himself, and I paid all the copying expenses and shipping.

    As for the Oliver family, in any court of law you are entitled to your opinion and I am entitled to mine. I used up the majority of my savings – while unemployed – to make these books available to future generations, and ten years later on I am still trying to break even. Fortunately I am now fully employed.

    If you think I should also be paying the Oliver family part of each sale and givaway my own future – and my family’s future – to give these unpleasant people money which I offered and they showed they don’t deserve (that’s MY opinion – and it’s still MY money) then perhaps you need to walk a mile or two in someone else’s shoes for a change.

    Ask any businessman if they spend a cent they don’t have to, and I am sure you already know the answer. I’m not much of a businessman, but I know what I can afford and what is beyond my reach. Had the Oliver family agreed to cooperate then the books would have been that much more expensive – I sell them for a price based on a basic calculation a decade ago of what they cost me.

    In addition to my publications I also provide – FREE OF CHARGE – the Caribbean Genealogy Resources web pages and the Caribbean Surname Index. For these I still put in an hour or so a day – every day of my life – administering the Index and modifying the Resources web pages. I also correspond with all kinds of people on Caribbean genealogy and help where I can.

    Criticise all you want… but what I did was in the best of faith and intentions, and preserves valuable information for the future. And I continue to give my skill, time and resources to the Caribbean community – and those outside of it – who seek to enlarge their family tree.

    Jim Lynch

  9. Diana Grimwood

    I think it commendable that Jim is trying to preserve our heritage, I am only sorry that the authorities in Barbados are not doing the same. It is virtually impossible to obtain any information from Barbados.

  10. bimjim

    I have been commended – and abused – in the past for saying what others think but refuse to put into words.

    In Barbados, as in other Caribbean islands (and indeed in other parts of the world), records are destroyed – or not consciously preserved (same thing in a tropical setting) – for reasons of race, religion, or some other prejudice or irrational fear.

    In this case, Barbados makes it difficult for “foreigners” to obtain genealogical information because there are some people in government who prefer to leave slavery and other unpleasant memories of the past in the dust of time. The excuses you will hear – in one of the most highly taxed populations in the world – is that they cannot afford the cost of preservation over other, more pressing, priorities.

    Jordan and Walsh make it “pellucidly” clear in their book “White Cargo” that not only were the first slaves in the Caribbean – indeed, as elsewhere – white, but these men, women and children were as ripped from their English, Scottish and Irish homes and abused as much as black slaves were, and in vast numbers – hundreds of thousands were shipped to the West Indies for little or no reason. Most of the population of Ireland were being simply displaced and discarded as an English land-grab.

    Present-day Caribbean governments, however, choose to remember only black slaves with white masters, hence the abuse of yesterday’s historical records.

    The reason for the presence of the “RedLegs” who still exist in Barbados seems to have been conveniently forgotten – they were Scottish “indentured servants”, a class of servants who were treated worse than slaves and many of whom had their “period of service” extended indefinitely on any pretext.

    So (in Barbados, at least) not only are these records becoming shoddy and insect-damaged, but in the last two decades there have been rumours of whole truckloads of historical documents being dumped into the sea late at night on the west coast. In St. Vincent there are rumours of whole cell blocks in forgotten garrisons filled with documents rotting from the damp ground up.

    Once in the Barbados National Archives, however, records seem to be taken care of. But, as in other countries – as you may already have experienced – cash or money orders sent to pay incumbent workers in the various institutions for research or copies of documents manage to disappear without trace, and my understanding is that their managers refuse to take any action or even to investigate.

    I do know of a reliable and knowledgeable professional researcher who does outstanding work in Barbados and charges reasonable fees. If you wish to make contact, please send me an email through this form (it is an anti-SPAM resource) and I will respond direct to you.


    Jim Lynch

  11. Pingback: Political, religious, race-based agendas and fears are destroying our historical records « Barbados Free Press

  12. Bob Manners

    I’m looking for any links to gain info on my herritage in Barbados – Clinckett family. I can get as far back as 1770 on the ancestry sites I subscribe to, but then the trail runs out. There should be additional info in the newspapers of the time but I’m finding access hard from Australia. Abel Clinckett owned the Barbadian for many years so there was even a family member in the business. I would appreciate any help,

    Regards Bob Manners