Our old friend and retired “Twotter” pilot Jim Lynch loves to preserve Barbados history and is a treasure-trove of information and advice for those seeking to learn about their Caribbean ancestry. He has published some very special books that will occupy you for weeks if you get one in your hands. Two years ago we covered his work in our article Old Barbados Newspapers Are A Treasure Of History.
Today Jim stopped by BFP and left the following comment that we think is worth a few minutes of your time.
Thanks, Jim! (I think the photo is about 25 years old, but you haven’t aged a bit, have you?) 🙂
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records becoming shoddy and insect-damaged, but in the last two decades there have been rumours of whole truckloads of historical documents being dumped into the sea late at night on the west coast.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.