In 2006/7, Solihull Libraries, working in partnership with Solihull College, ran a series of 10-week family history courses for people tracing ancestors from the Caribbean. We believe these to have been the first full-length courses in the UK for Caribbean family history. The courses were free to attend as a result of funding from the European Social Fund’s Equal Engage programme. When the funding came to an end in 2007, the tutors and some of the learners decided to continue as a family history group and have been meeting at the library ever since.
The Solihull & Birmingham Caribbean Family History Group was founded in 2008, and several of the founder members are still active committee members 14 years later!
Caribbean records available in Solihull
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) (often called the Mormons) has a network of Family History Centres across the world which have access to various family history records of birth, marriage and death records. Many of the records are available to search at the free Family Search website.
The London Family History Centre had the largest collection of Caribbean records in the UK so the group would visit regularly as most of the records were not available online.
In 2011, the group asked Solihull Library staff if the library would become a Family Search Affiliate Library, which would enable local access to worldwide records on microfilm – including many from the Caribbean – held by the LDS. The library service readily agreed and from 2011 until 2017 anyone could order LDS microfilms for viewing in Solihull. Group members are pictured at the top of this page in 2011, marking the launch of the library as a Family Search Affiliate.
As a result of efforts by the Caribbean Family History Group and the Jamaica Family Roots group that also met at the library, Solihull Central Library (now The Core Library) built up the largest UK collection of Caribbean family history records outside London.
In 2017, having progressed with a massive programme to digitise microfilm records, Family Search withdrew the microfilm ordering service. Instead, Family Search Affiliate Libraries were given access to digitised collections not usually available to members of the public unless they visited a church Family History Centre in person.
These digital collections cover many countries – not just those in the Caribbean – and are available free of charge to customers using library computers or bringing in their own devices and connecting them to the free library WiFi.
During the first Covid lockdown, Family Search agreed to all of our community libraries in Solihull also becoming Family Search Affiliate Libraries.
Solihull is the first local authority in the UK to have all of its libraries designated as Family Search Affiliate Libraries – see the Family Search Wiki for a full list.
If you have any general queries about family history, please email library staff or contact the Solihull & Birmingham Caribbean Family History Group directly.
Library Specialist: Heritage & Local Studies
The Core Library, Solihull