July 2, 2016

Researching Your Belizean Ancestry

Researching your ancestry from Belize formerly known as British Honduras is actually not as hard as some would think.  There are many resources available to you where you shouldn't have to visit the country to find information.  Like many other regions of the Caribbean, Central America and South America, names have changed over the years.  This can cause a person to easily get frustrated when researching the family tree.

However I always recommend that you should always attempt to learn about the region's history as your first step and avoid the feeling of frustration.  Even if you know the history, it doesn't hurt to review it once more or multiple time during your research, it will actually help you further.  We all know that at one point that Belize was known as British Honduras and something important to keep in mind.

Below is our first stop, the government archives.  While at the time of my post the website is under maintenance, they do supply a contact number and eventually the website will be back up and working.

Belize Government Archives

There are Belize records available on microfilm via Familysearch.org, a great resource for researching your ancestry:

Belize Microfilmed Records:  Familysearch has a large number of records for Belize. This link will lead you to church, civil, census, etc. for the country. Eventually these records will become available online for all to research.  However for now you'll have to visit a local Family History Center that can be found all over the globe.

Belize City Cemetery: This one is only available in book form and books can only be viewed in Utah. Noted it here as an option if you ever plan to visit. 

Familysearch Search option: Use the link and you can type in ancestor last names or simply leave the name blank, select the "Any" option and then type in Belize or British Honduras in the field.  You can filter the results once the lists come up by selecting the "Collections" tab at the top of the search results and then checking off the catalogs you want to review.  Passenger lists to New York, Florida, and Louisiana are great options to select. Then go back up to the top and click on the "Filter These Results" to update your list.

In addition, here are some additional resources available online...

First Parish Register of Belize: Book is available for purchase and covers from 1794 to 1810 along with the first 4 Census done for Belize under British rule. 

Second Parish Register of Belize:  Book is available for purchase and covers 1813 to 1827 as well as the 1829 Census.

Third Parish Register of Belize:  Book is available for purchase and covers registers from 1828 to 1841. 

Find A Grave:  Volunteers are always adding records from cemeteries from around the world. The website has records for cemeteries for Belize City and Belize the country.  It is definitely worth looking at the records.

PARES:  This is Spain's Archive portal. I have two blog posts that speaks to how to use the website.  There are many digitized records on this website.

 Most importantly you should:

  • Create a family tree on Ancestry.  Make sure you add at least the country of birth if you're not sure what city a person was born.  There are thousands of records available on Ancestry.
  • A generation consists of 20 to 30 years.  So if you are not certain of when your grandparents or great grandparents were born, just minus 20 to 30 years of age from your parent. In the date of birth type in "ABT" followed by space and the year.  I tend to start with a person being 20 years of age.  When you do this it will help search engines provide you with hints on Ancestry.  It may even connect you to a cousin you didn't know was out there that may have the information you seek.
  • Have your DNA tested.  Look for Holiday sales on DNA kits.  I recommend Ancestry because they provide a good breakdown on African DNA and also have the largest database around with over 2 million people who have tested.  
  • They sell their kits in Europe which should help in your research; specifically England.
  • Join many of the genealogy groups available on Facebook.  
  • Speak to your oldest relatives, you'll be surprised of how much they know.
  • Have your eldest relatives DNA tested, test is very simple with them spitting in a tube, just make sure you register the kit online.