Chief Archivist Ingrid Thompson. (FP)

Chief Archivist Ingrid Thompson is encouraging Barbadians to come out in their numbers and start the process of tracing their Barbadian ancestry.

Speaking ahead of the genealogy marketplace, which is part of the We Gatherin’ activities for 2020, Mrs. Thompson said that the activity, which takes place this Saturday, January 25, at the St. Lucy Parish Church, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., was the first in a series of 11 events scheduled to be held in every parish throughout the year.

In 2016, the Archives Department, of the Ministry of Creative Economy, Culture and Sports, and the then Barbados Tourism Product Authority, embarked on the Genealogy Marketplace initiative, which aimed to encourage local persons to get involved in tracing their family history.  It also provided an opportunity for persons to learn more about the Archives Department, as a resource for conducting family history research.

The first year saw some 500 persons visiting the Black Rock office to learn about their genealogy, while the next year that number rose to over 3,000 persons.  Those numbers are expected to rise with the scheduling of the marketplaces across the island.

“When we first heard about the We Gatherin’ activities, we felt that by having several smaller events it would give persons who may not have been able to attend the annual event, an opportunity to start to trace the branches of their family tree in their own back yard.  Some persons may have challenges, which prevent them from travelling, but may still be interested in having the study done, so as they say, ‘if Mohammed can’t come to the mountain, you have to bring the mountain to Mohammed’,” the Chief Archivist stated.

She also revealed that she had noticed an increase in the number of persons who were interested in learning more about their lineage.  She said almost daily requests come from persons, both locally and overseas, to find out more about where they came from. 

Actress Gwenyth Paltrow utilized the services of the Archives Department to find her Barbadian ancestry. (Stock Photo)

One of the more prominent celebrities who had utilized the services of the department was actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who has Barbadian roots. Actor Cuba Gooding Jr.’s parents also visited the department to research their family history. 

Mrs. Thompson believes there are other celebrities who might be interested in having similar research done.

She intimated that she would like to see more Barbadians utilizing the services of the Archives Department to find out the history behind their names, but she cautioned that the value of the research was directly correlated to the quality of the information provided.

“The extent to which we are able to trace a person’s genealogy is dependent on how much information persons have.  You need to provide any information you can find; whether it be birth, baptism, marriage or death certificates, photographs of ancestors, old letters or any other kind of correspondence you may have; if you know where your grandparents lived, or who their neighbours were ….  You would be surprised what is helpful when it comes to tracing genealogy,” she shared.

In addition to tracing their roots, persons will get the opportunity to view a display on the East Indian-Brazilian connection and spin the wheel to win prizes. Next month’s Genealogy Marketplace will take place in St. Peter, on Saturday, February 22.

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