Petition to Preserve & Digitize Indian Indentured Servant & Enslaved African Records in the Caribbean UPDATES

Please Sign Our

Petition to Preserve Our Ship Records

By Submitting this Form






    Petition Summary

    Approximately 500,000 Indian indentured servants and millions of enslaved Africans traveled across the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean. Our ancestry can be difficult to trace. However, ship records can reveal which ancestors came to the Caribbean.

    Much of their histories and cultures are fading or have been lost. The local governments of the Caribbean, and the British government, should ensure that these papers are properly preserved and also available to everyone online.

    We can search birth certificates, death certificates, and marriage certificates to estimate when an ancestor arrived in the Caribbean. After that, we can search the corresponding ship records or estate records for that time frame.

    My name is Melissa D. Goolsarran Ramnauth, Esq. and I am working to put together an official proposal to the governments on this matter. However, recent information has led me to understand that the ship records are at a continued risk for being lost. Some records are not properly stored, and the pages are crumbling.​

    Therefore, we should work together to promote this project. I understand that some efforts have been made to protect and scan the records. However, all of the records should be available online for everyone to access.

    Please sign the petition and encourage others to do the same. We want to actively collect signatures to show the governments that our population is deeply interested in preserving and learning about our history through these ship records. Please use the form below to submit any recommendations on preserving the papers, digitizing the records, and/or tracing such ancestry.

    We will only use your signatures to show the strength of the campaign and to provide email updates through our newsletter.

    If we know where we came from, we can know how valuable we are both personally, and professionally.

    *The Petition was originally named "Petition to Preserve & Digitize Indian Indentured Servant and Enslaved African Ship Records in Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago." It has been amended following many requests to include the entire Caribbean. We hope to have all ship records and related records digitized so that we can all learn more about our past.

    For more updates, please see below.

    Petition Updates

    8/31/22 Petition to Preserve & Digitize Indian Indentured Servant & Enslaved African Records in the Caribbean launched.

    9/6/22 Emailed Ambassadors and Consulate Offices.

    9/7/22 The Trinidad National Archives advises that it offers a preliminary research service where it can search a limited amount of records on your behalf. If you have the immigration number or the person's name and a year of arrival (and/or the ship's name), the office can peruse the records for you.

    9/12/22 The Trinidad Consulate in Miami has forwarded my email to the Ministry of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs , Consular Division for attention.

    9/22/22 The Trinidad National Archives advises that it has "General Registers that record most of arrivals of the immigrants, as well as the ship registers which is really a compilation of the emigration passes that each immigrant had when they took the voyage from India."

    Most of the records are in good condition and some are being restored. There are some missing records that have not been located despite attempts to locate the records in India.

    It is currently digitizing the ship records relating to over 147,000 immigrants on over 300 voyages; however, there is only one technician assigned to this large project.

    The National Archives does have plans to bolster staff but the deadline is uncertain. "There is also a Global Indian Indentureship project which aims to create a centralized database that will provide details of all the immigrants that left India - Mauritius, Fiji, India, Guyana, T&T, Suriname, etc. This is a major project and they are also trying to source funds."

    9/26/22 Ms. Janice C. kindly forwarded an article on Mr. Arthur Torrington's success in digitizing Registers of Enslaved Africans in Former British Colonial Dependencies. You can access the records here: https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/1129/

    You can read more about Mr. Torrington's journey here: https://web.archive.org/web/20101126022807/https://www.ligali.org/article.php?id=1901.

    9/27/22 The Petition was originally named "Petition to Preserve & Digitize Indian Indentured Servant and Enslaved African Ship Records in Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago." It has been amended following many requests to include the entire Caribbean. Our current aim is to have all ship records and related records digitized so that we can all learn more about our past.

    10/2/22 Attended a genealogy presentation by the Trinidad & Tobago Genealogy group on Facebook. Ms. Ann Dardaine provided a great explanation of available resources. More information can be found on the Facebook group.

    10/20/22 Finalized Proposal to send to President Ali, Prime Minister Rowley, CARICOM, and other representatives. We have about 2,700 signatures. Let’s get 50,000 by November 1st so they can pay more attention to this important preservation!

    11/1/22 Mailed and emailed Petition to Preserve & Digitize Indian Indentured Servant & Enslaved African Records in the Caribbean to leaders in Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, and CARICOM.

    12/8/22 I have not received any responses from the Petition that was mailed and emailed to leaders in Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, and CARICOM. In January, I plan to launch another social media campaign to raise awareness.

    1/1/23 - 5/30/23 Blog, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram posts regarding the Petition. Increased postings in May of 2023 for Indian Arrival Days with references to the Petition.

    7/2023 Sent emails to the below email addresses regarding the Petition (emphasizing the urgency and need to preserve these documents):

    8/8/2023 Emailed admin@flcourthistory.org regarding the July 2023 article in the FL Bar Newspaper about restoring and preserving FL Supreme Court Photos, in the hopes of understanding the similar costs for this project.

    11/22/2023 We have 3,854 signatures! There are so many people interested in preserving and digitizing our records. However, I haven't been able to get a hold of anyone in a leadership/government position. I am hopeful to meet with someone from the Guyana Archives soon. I will keep you updated. Please continue to share, sign, and reach out to your community leaders. Let's save our history for just 25 cents/page.

    1/18/2024 Emailed narchivesguyana@gmail.com asking for list of ships that went to Guyana. I got an email this week from a professor that was actively corresponding with this email address at the Archives Office. Met with law firm to discuss forming a non-profit company to facilitate the digitization of these records.

    2/8/2024 Spoke with Mr. Cliff Rajkumar. He informed me that there is a dedicated group campaigning to preserve these records. He previously attempted to do so in 2013. I have emailed the group lead and I am excited to learn more about their next steps.

    2/20/2024 Met with software engineer W. Hussain. Once the data is available, it can be formatted in about 1 month. Things to consider:

    • What format will the images be scanned in? Will it need to be converted to text in a separate step?
    • Will a data engineer be required to clean up the scan? Extraction Transformation Loading
    • Will OCR be considered?
    • AI technology can assist in extracting data from images.
    • Consider providing both text information and PNG images of the ship records.
    • Are all records uniform? Did the standard ship log categories change?
    • The largest time would be collecting the information.
    • There will be monthly costs associated with data storage/backups.
    • Potential ballpark for creating a searchable program $10,000-$25,000.

    2/29/2024 Ms. Julie Sam confirmed via Trinidad and Tobago Genealogy group that the TNT Archives has all of the records digitized but not available for viewing.

    5/14/2024 Emailed administration officials at the University of Guyana to confirm whether they started digitizing the records. dben162001@yahoo.com (Mr. Dwayne Benjamin - HOD History), estherine.adams@uog.edu.gy (HOD Social Studies), and feh@uog.edu.gy (Education and Humanities Faculty).

    4,450 signatures have been collected.

    7/6/2024 Mr. C. Rajkumar noted that his group has calculated the amount of pages to be scanned. The leader of the group also purchased a scanner to aid in digitization. They are working with the government on the next steps.


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    1 comment

    • Imran Hack says:

      I wouldn't mind offering my services. I have spent many researching with little help from anyone.

      Reply