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Barbados: Local History & Genealogy Resource Guide

Compiled by reference specialists at the Library of Congress, this guide identifies key print and online resources for pursuing family history, as well as parish and regional historical research, for the country of Barbados.


Thomas Jefferys and William Mayo, surveyor. Barbadoes. 1775. Library of Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

This island nation in the Caribbean Sea located within the Lesser Antilles was originally inhabited by the indigenous Arawakan and Carib (Kalinago) peoples at various periods. In 1625 when the English claimed the island, it was uninhabited. From 1640 to 1660, indentured servants, prisoners of war, and vagrants from the British Isles (England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland) migrated or were forcibly transported and sold as servants on the island.

The introduction of sugar cane transformed the socio-economic and physical structure of the island from a reliance on white indentured servitude to enslaved West & Central African labor. Over 4 hundred thousand enslaved West & Central Africans were purchased during the transatlantic slave trade and transported to Barbados from the 17th century to 1807. Many died during the voyages and on the plantations and livestock pens in the island. British Parliament abolished slavery on August 1, 1834 and full emancipation was granted on August 1, 1838 after the apprenticeship period. In 1966, Barbados gained independence from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and joined the Commonwealth of Nations. On November 30, 2021, Barbados became a republic.

There are 11 parishes in Barbados, which are the island's administrative units. They are Christ Church, Saint Andrew, Saint George, Saint James, Saint John, Saint Joseph, Saint Lucy, Saint Michael, Saint Peter, Saint Philip, and Saint Thomas.

The number and existence of the parishes in Barbados changed over the period of English colonization until it was permanently fixed in 1645.

This guide offers a selection of resources and strategies for Barbados local history and genealogy research. These include the print and digital collections of the Library of Congress, as well as external repositories and web sites key to finding forebears in the island nation.

About Local History & Genealogy Reference Services

The Library of Congress has one of the world's premier collections of U.S. and foreign genealogical and local historical publications, numbering more than 50,000 compiled family histories and over 100,000 U.S. local histories. The Library's genealogy collection began as early as 1815 with the purchase of Thomas Jefferson's library.