Welcome to the Bahamian Portal on Geni!
This is a project to focus on developing the profiles of the people of the Bahamas and members of the greater Bahamian diaspora on Geni. Special emphasis is made on using Bahamian sources, especially government records and credible Bahamian histories.
Since modern Bahamians find their roots in many other ethnicities --Yoruba/West African, Mandinka, Bantu, English, French, Swedish, Haitian, Greek, Chinese, Native Caribbean, Native American, Ashkenazi, and more -- this project aims to also provide information on how these people came to be Bahamian after leaving their home nations.
Getting Started on Geni
If you're not already a member of Geni, or if you're not entirely familiar with all of its ins and outs, fear not -- we're here to help. If you'd like to be easily connected into the massive, joint Bahamian tree we've been building on Geni (now in excess of 1,000 profiles), send a direct message to Ashley Odell with you direct lines back, and she can help tie you in.
Please be aware that since most Bahamians are closely related, genealogically speaking, you will almost certainly want to accept any and all Family Group and collaboration invitations you get from other Bahamians on Geni. This is absolutely not required, but will make your research and site experience vastly easier than if you don't.
How to Use the Portal
You can use the portal, especially the discussions feature, to:
- Ask questions
- Collaborate on your research
- Share knowledge you have gained as you've done your own research in a specific area
- Start your own Bahamas-related project
- Add profiles you'd like some help with
There are no silly questions, so feel free to jump on in!
The current existing sub-projects we have in the Bahamian portal are:
- The 1671 Bahamas Census
- Albury Family of the Bahamas
- Bahamian Pirates
- Colonial Governors of the Bahamas
- Higgs Family of the Bahamas
- Knowles Family of the Bahamas
- Pinder Family of the Bahamas
These projects were created based on interests of current members.
Are you interested in another Bahamian topic? Then feel free to create and connect your own sub-project!
Some proposed topics that have come up include:
- Eleutheran Adventurers
- Modern Bahamian Political Leaders
- The Bahamian Diaspora
- Bahamian Athletes
About the Bahamas
Originally inhabited by the Lucayans, a branch of the Arawak-speaking Taino people, the Bahama Islands were the site of Columbus' first landfall in the New World in 1492. Although the Spanish never colonized the Bahamas, they shipped the native Lucayans to slavery in Hispaniola. The islands were mostly deserted from 1513 to 1648, when English colonists and religious refugees from Bermuda known as the Eleutheran Adventurers settled on the island of Eleuthera.
The Bahamas became a Crown Colony in 1717 as the British clamped down on piracy. Following the American Revolutionary War, thousands of pro-British Loyalists and enslaved Africans moved to the Bahamas and set up a moderately successful plantation economy. The slave trade was abolished in the British Empire in 1807, and many Africans liberated from slave ships by the Royal Navy were settled in The Bahamas during the 19th century.
Slavery itself was abolished in 1834, and the descendants of enslaved and liberated Africans form the bulk of the Bahamas's population today. The Bahamas now holds the distinction of being the richest country in the world whose population is predominantly of African origin.
Most modern Bahamians simply identify as Bahamian, but their earliest roots differ. The reality, however, is that the vast majority of Bahamian families have intermarried at some point in history, meaning that most White Bahamians have Afro-Bahamian ancestry and vice versa.
Afro-Bahamians are Bahamians whose primary ancestry lies within the continent of Africa, most notably West Africa and the Yoruba diaspora. The first Africans to arrive to the Bahamas came from Bermuda with the Eleutheran Adventurers as freed slaves looking for a new life. Afro-Bahamians today account for approximately 65% of the country's population and hold almost all positions of political power in the Bahamas.
White Bahamians, often called British (even if they are not), are Bahamians whose primary ancestry lies within the continent of Europe. Most are the descendants of the British Puritans and American Loyalists who arrived between 1649 and 1783. Other White Bahamians include Greeks, Spanish Cubans, and a growing German population.
An estimated 15% of the population identifies as both Afro-Bahamian and White Bahamian. They are often grouped in with Afro-Bahamians for statistical reporting purposes, leading to the common 85%/15% figure that is reported in guidebooks. Most mulatto or mixed Bahamians identify with aspects of both subcultures.
The two most notable minority groups in the country are the Haitian and Chinese groups. Most Chinese Bahamians come from families that have been represent in the Bahamas since the late 1800s and which were previously found in Cuba. Most Haitians are refugees, often undocumented, from nearby Hispaniola.
Some famous Bahamians and members of the Bahamian diaspora include:
- Baha Men -- musical group
- Luther "Uncle Luke" Campbell -- rapper from 2 Live Crew
- Wendy Coakley-Thompson -- novelist
- W. E. B. DuBois -- activist, historian, sociologist, and author
- Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie -- Olympic gold medal-winning sprinter
- Rick Fox -- retired NBA star
- Beyoncé and Solange Knowles -- musicians
- Lenny and Zoë Kravitz -- musician (Lenny) and actor/singer/model (Zoë)
- Tia, Tamara, and Tahj Mowry -- actors
- Myles Munroe -- televangelist
- Sidney Poitier -- actor and diplomat
- Al Roker -- meteorologist and television host
- Roxie Roker -- actor
- Estelle Rolle -- actor
- Kimbo Slice (Kevin Ferguson) -- MMA fighter
- Ryan Sweeting -- tennis player
- Mychal Thompson -- NBA player
- Persia White -- actor
- Tonique Williams-Darling -- Olympic gold medal-winning track star
There are many others, of course -- please feel free to add them to our list, or even the project itself!
Many Bahamian records have already been scanned, but not always indexed, on-line. Highlights include the Bahamas Civil Registration and the Bahamas Births collections at FamilySearch.
- FamilySearch: Bahamas Births, 1850-1891 -- indexed
- Bahamas, Civil Registration, 1850-1959 -- indexed
The Bahamas National Archives welcomes requests from people researching their family history and offers a wide variety of services available. The Family History department offers census records, slave records, compensation returns, slave registers, freedmen registers, local government reports, maps and plans, church records, cemetery records, naturalization records, land records, estate records, wills, deeds, indentures, conveyances, dowers, probate papers, voter lists, vital records, and more, all at very reasonable costs. Requesting files from abroad is very easy, and since the Bahamian dollar is pegged to the U.S. dollar, Americans in particular will have no need to worry about complicated payment transfers.
A comprehensive bibliography has been compiled by noted Bahamian genealogist Peter J. Roberts of the Bahamian Genealogy Group. Highlights include:
- Albury, Paul. The Story of the Bahamas. London: Humanity Press/Prometheus BK, 1975.
- One of the first major histories of the Bahamas. A good primer for those unfamiliar with the country.
- Bethell, A. Talbot. The Early Settlers of the Bahamas and Colonists of North America. 1937. Reprint by Genealogy Warehouse, 2008.
- The first book of Bahamian genealogy. Focuses primarily on the period from 1671-1791.
- Craton, Michael and Gail Saunders. Islanders in the Stream: A History of the Bahamian People. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2000.
- This is the definitive book (two volumes) on Bahamian history. It features many biographical sketches, slave registries, census reports, etc. Exceptional scholarship yet very readable. Still in print and has been revised through several editions.
- Johnson, Howard. The Bahamas from Slavery to Servitude, 1783 - 1933. Gainsville, FL: University of Florida, 1997.
- Riley, Sandra. Homeward Bound: A History of the Bahama Islands to 1850. Nassau: Island Research, 2000.
- Focuses largely on Abaco during the American Loyalist plantation period.