Caribbean-Chinese Genealogy Tips

Aunt Sybil, Agnes, Elaine in Trinidad
It took over a decade before my Chinese-Trinidadian maternal Aunts Sybil, Agnes, and Elaine were reunited with their mother (my grandmother) and siblings (my mother) in NYC.

Have you searched for your Caribbean Chinese Diaspora ancestors?

I did. I consulted the UK-National Archives. It was part of my research efforts to find Trinidad and Guyana immigrants with Chinese heritage for my film “From Shanghai to Harlem.” (

The UK-National Archives offered some very helpful advice about Caribbean-Chinese diaspora genealogy search. Here is their reply to my recent inquiry:

“There aren’t a lot of records of Indentured labour.  Most of the records relating to this subject are of an administrative nature and relate to the functioning of the indentured labour system. I don’t think you are going to find much relating to individuals, if anything. 

“You would need to consult the Colonial Office Original Correspondence for the relevant colony.  The correspondence consists of letters coming into London from the colonies. For example:  

CO 111          Colonial Office Original Correspondence British Guiana  

CO 345          Registers of Correspondence: British Guiana  

CO 295          Colonial Office Original Correspondence: Trinidad

CO 372          Registers of Correspondence: Trinidad 

As Venezuela was not a British Colony any relevant records will be in the records of the Foreign Office in:

FO 80             Foreign Office: Venezuela

FO 420           Foreign Office: Confidential Print: Venezuela

If grants of land were made at the end of the period of indentured labour then I think these would be in the Archives in Guyana or Trinidad:  HoweverI have consulted our database of overseas archives and we don’t have details of these.

If you are new to this kind of research, please go to the Start your research here section of our website for help on where and how to begin your research.

Discovery, The National Archives’ catalogue, contains millions of record descriptions and references. You can search our catalogue specifying keywords and dates. 

Searching for records in our catalogue will provide you with a document reference that then allows you to see the document onsite at Kew or to pay for copies to be sent to you using our record copying service. Some documents are available to download from home, but most are not. 

To visit The National Archives to undertake research yourself please check our website for important information regarding our opening hours and closure dates, what to bring and ID requirements. This is especially important if you need to look at original documents as you must have the two valid and correct proofs of ID with you.

Making a personal visit is not convenient for everyone. To find out about employing an independent researcher to carry out research for you or about our paid search service please look on our website.

We wish you every success in your research, but please be aware that the records in our custody are not always complete: they were not created or kept for research purposes, but for use by the government or law courts of the day. We cannot guarantee that you will find what you are looking for.

I have not treated this as a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act. If you want us to treat it as a Freedom of Information request, please re-send your enquiry using the contact form but please note that we will charge for research.

If you need to respond to this email, please click on Reply to do so. It is very helpful for us for the text of the earlier emails to be included. For a new enquiry, please complete our contact form

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Yours sincerely,

Neil G Cobbett

Reader Adviser


My Chinese-Caribbean Diaspora family
My Chinese-Trinidadian-Guyanese maternal family arrival in Harlem.

Dear The National Archives,

My name is Sylvia Wong-Lewis, and I am producing a film about my family. My Chinese great-grandparents signed indentured servant contracts with the British government in Hong Kong and were sent to Venezuela, Trinidad and Guyana. I want to find out more about my Chinese ancestors and tell a story about their migration from China to the Caribbean.

I am writing for advice about finding their contracts. If I cannot find their exact contracts, is it possible for me to take a look at other contracts of Chinese indentured servants sent to Venezuela, Trinidad or Guyana.

I greatly appreciate your time and help!



Do you know anyone with Caribbean Chinese or Caribbean-Asian ancestors? Are they conducting family history searches?

8 thoughts on “Caribbean-Chinese Genealogy Tips

  1. Wishing you success on this endeavor. I have read a couple of books that chronicle this history. Thinking, thinking of one particular book that focused on Chinese in Jamaica. Cannot wait to follow along.

    1. Patricia, Thank you for reading my post. I am glad that this Chinese-Caribbean Diaspora story is becoming a topic in new books. But, these stories are still buried in our families memories. We need to keep digging and sharing!

  2. Very helpful article. Thank your for posting. I have heard stories that my Jamaican Great-Great-Grandmother Ginger “Gin Gin” was Chinese. I’ve had a DNA test and I am currently researching my maternal and paternal lines. Will let you know if I find something of interest.

  3. Very helpful article. Thank you for posting. I have heard stories from family elders that my great-great-grandmother Ginger ‘Gin Gin’ was Chinese. I’ve had a DNA test and i’m currently researching my maternal and paternal lines. Will let you know if something of interest turns up.

    1. Thank you for reading my post. Would love to hear more about your Chinese Jamaican heritage. Keep looking!

    1. Derek, These Jamaican archives that you sent are full of amazing gems. Thank you for sharing.

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