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Rhodesia and Nyasaland (Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi) – Genealogical Reference Centre.

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The aim of this project is to gather together information about available resources for Genealogical research in these areas. If you have information that will help others in please join the project and share your knowledge! If you do not feel comfortable editing the project please contact June Barnes who will be happy to add the information on your behalf.

To participate in any project

- you do need to first be a collaborator - so join the project. Project Help: How to add Text to a Project - Starter Kit to get you going!

In the email addresses below replace [at] with @ this is to prevent harvesting of email addresses by spam bots.

Researcher in Zimbabwe

Ian Johnstone

  • PO Box 2418, Harare.
  • search[at]
  • kupas[at]
  • Landline phone: Harare 308950
  • Cellphone: 0772-859 759

Contact in Zambia offering service to locate documents

Karen van Boxtel

  • karen.vb[at]

Recording Information on Geni Profiles

Please refer to South Africa - Profile Guidelines for information regarding names on Geni

Personal names

The spelling of names in this part of the world is subject to variations because of the mixture of Afrikaans and English cultures. Willem in Afrikaans is William in English, and John can be Johan or Johannes to name but two. This means that there are bound to be conflicts in how information is entered on profile pages.

Generally speaking the name to use is the one that is on a primary or "official" document – usually birth or baptismal records, and later documents such as identity cards and passports. Variations in spelling need to be listed in the Also Known As or nicknames field.

There are accepted spellings for most names, and it is acceptable to record a variation if that is the way the family uses it. Take Jansen van Rensburg as an example - my mother's family has always used the full Jansen - but others use Janse or not at all. The earlier records for this family have Janse(n) on Geni to allow for this.

Death Notices whilst providing useful information for the genealogist are a secondary source subject to inaccuracies because the information recorded is based on the knowledge of the informant and the level of literacy of the clerk who filled in the form. If the clerk was English working with Afrikaans names then they are open to mistakes, and vice versa. A good example of this is found in the variations in spelling in the concentration Camp registers.

If you have personal knowledge of a family’s way of spelling a name, especially in more recent years, then you need to use that, but also add a note in the “About me” section or in the AKA field.

Place names

Geni will fill the place name fields in based on a combination of Google reference and what has been used before. If the place names have been used incorrectly in the past then this will be perpetuated if you use this predictive function. The most accurate process is to type the place names directly into the name fields - going through the edit button. This means that the names of places, countries, provinces/counties and cities can be correctly recorded.

There is an argument for using modern place names on Geni - in time it may be possible to generate distribution maps etc. and Google Maps cannot work on a combination of old and modern place names. It is historically and genealogically correct to use old place names for events that took place when those names applied. It would seem that the guideline is to use one or the other, not a combination of both. (This means that where both names have been use one or the other needs to be removed - the preference is for the place name as it was at the time of the event to be used)

The following breakdown of historical events will help promote accuracy in recording place names.

Historical Time-Line

Rhodesia and Nyasaland (Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi) - Timeline

A Rhodesian Historical Timeline online.

Southern Rhodesia/Rhodesia/Zimbabwe

  • 1901 – British South Africa Company united Mashonaland and Matabeleland as Southern Rhodesia
  • 1923 – became the self governing British Colony of Southern Rhodesia
  • 1953 – 1st August; United with Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland to form the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.
  • 1963 – 31st Dec.; The Federation officially dissolved and Southern Rhodesia became known as Rhodesia.
  • 1965 – 11th November; Southern Rhodesia unilaterally declared itself independent (UDI) as Rhodesia.
  • 1980 – The Republic of Zimbabwe was recognized by the United Kingdom.

Northern Rhodesia/Zambia

  • 1911 – British South Africa Company (BSAC) amalgamated the territories of North Eastern Rhodesia and Barotseland/North Western Rhodesia as Northern Rhodesia with the status of a protectorate.
  • 1924 – 1st April; Administration of the territory of Northern Rhodesia passes to the Colonial Office of the British Government and it becomes the British Protectorate of Northern Rhodesia
  • 1953 – 1st August; United with Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland to form the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.
  • 1963 – 31st Dec.; The Federation officially dissolved.
  • 1964 – 24th October; Northern Rhodesia gained independence as the Republic of Zambia


  • 1891 – The Shire Highlands Protectorate expanded to the Nyasaland District Protectorate.
  • 1893 – Nyasaland Districts Protectorate became the British Central Africa Protectorate.
  • 1907 – British Central Africa Protectorate became Nyasaland Protectorate.
  • 1953 – 1st August; United with Southern Rhodesia and Northern Rhodesia to form the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.
  • 1963 – 31st Dec. The Federation officially dissolved.
  • 1964 – 6th July; The Nyasaland Protectorate gained independence as the Republic of Malawi.

How to record the Country names.

Genealogically this means that the following names should be used when recording information about your ancestors. Place names should reflect the place name as it was at the time of an event.

Southern Rhodesia/Rhodesia/Zimbabwe

  • Before 1965 Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe)
  • 1964 – 1980 Rhodesia (Zimbabwe)
  • 1979 Briefly Zimbabwe Rhodesia (officially the Republic of Zimbabwe Rhodesia, was an unrecognised state that existed from 1 June 1979 to 12 December 1979.
  • 1980 onwards Zimbabwe.

Northern Rhodesia/Zambia

  • Before 24th October 1964 – Northern Rhodesia (Zambia)
  • After 24th October 1965 – Zambia.


  • Before 6th July 1964 – Nyasaland (Malawi).
  • After 6th July 1964 – Malawi.

1. Southern Rhodesia/Rhodesia/Zimbabwe

Place names - changes, meanings etc.

Rhodesia... named after Cecil John Rhodes
Zimbabwe ... The name is based on the Shona name for the ruined city now known as Great Zimbabwe

Today's Provinces with Capital

  • Bulawayo BUL - Bulawayo - City
  • Harare - HAR - Harare (Salisbury) - City
  • Manicaland - MNL - Mutare (Umtali)
  • Mashonaland Central - MSC - Bindura
  • Mashonaland East _ MSE - Marondera (Marandellas)
  • Mashonaland West - MSW - Chinoyi (Sinoia)
  • Masvingo Province - MVG - Masvingo (Fort Victoria)
  • Matabeleland North - MBN - Lupane
  • Matabeleland South - MBS - Gwanda
  • Midlands Province - MID - Gweru (Gwelo)

Principle Cities

  • Harare - HAR (was Salisbury)
  • Bulawayo - MBN
  • Chitungwiza - HAR
  • Mutare - MNL (was Umtali)
  • Gweru - MID (was Gwelo)
  • Epworth - HAR
  • Kwekwe - MID (was Que Que)
  • Kadoma - MSW (was Gatooma)
  • Masvingo - MVG (was Fort Victoria)
  • Marondera - MSE (was Marandellas)

Names of Towns

A "full" list of town names is in a document. Please let June Barnes know if there are others that should be added to that document.

The following are place names that have been changed - old names in brackets (excluding those named above)

  • Chegutu (Hartley)
  • Chinhoyi (Sinoia)
  • Chipingu (Chipinga)
  • Chivu (Enkeldoorn)
  • Gweru (Gwelo)
  • Hwange (Wankie)
  • Jawanda (Gwanda)
  • Kadoma (Gatooma)
  • Kwekwe (Que Que)
  • Mbalabala (Balla Balla)
  • Marondera (Marandellas)
  • Mazowe (Mazoe)
  • Mhangura (Mangula)
  • Mutare (Umtali)
  • Mwenezi (Nuanetsi)
  • Ndanga (Zaka)
  • Nyanaga (Inyanga)
  • Shurugwi (Selukwe)
  • Zvishavane (Shabani)

Genealogical Resources

Zimbabwe District Offices:

  • Harare - +263 4 702295
  • Bulawayo - +263 9 68491
  • Gweru - +263 54 223155
  • Masvingo - +263 39 263876/263705
  • Mutare - +263 20 60701/60276
  • Bindura - +263 71 6511/6119
  • Chinhoyi - +263 67 23013
  • Gwanda - +263 84 22587/22618

Family Search

Family Search has made 2 invaluable Zimbabwean resources available online for the years 1892 to 1977. The first is an indexed collection of Death Notices and the 2nd is for Death certificates arranged by town.

There is an excellent tutorial which will help you come to grips with the system.

Zimbabwe, Death Registers, 1890-1977; Index to Death Register, 1892-1977


Zimbabwe, Death notices, 1904-1976

Birth Certificates/Death Certificates:

(Note: No indication is given on how up to date this information is).

"Initial birth and death registrations are made through the Home Affairs Offices in each town or city in Zimbabwe. However, all records are kept at the Home Affairs main office in Harare. For replacement or verification, all requests must normally be made through the main office in Harare. Hospitals issue birth and death records after each birth or postmortem, which are used to file for birth and death certificates at the local Home Affairs office. The initial documents, obtained within 6 weeks from date of issuance are free. Replacement documents cost $10.00 for an emergency replacement and $5.00 for routine replacement".

From the Harare US Embassy website.

It seems that the best way to get a certificate is to contact the Zimbabwe Embassy in your own country.

Zimbabwean Embassy Addresses


Zimbabwe Embassy, 11 Culgoa Circuit, Canberra 2606
Phone: +61-2-62862700; +61-2-62862281; +61-2-62862303; +61-2-865931
Fax: +61-2-62962280; +61-2-62901680; +61-2-62901748


Zimbabwe Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 421 2824.


Zimbabwe Embassy, 12, rue Lord Byron, 75008, Paris, France
Telephone: (+33-1) 56881600; Faximile (+33-1) 56881609


Zimbabwe Embassy, Berlin, Germany.
Telephone: (+49-30) 2062263; Faximile: (+49-30) 20455062


Zimbabwe Embassy, 11, Josephine Charlotte Square, B-1200, City, Brussel, Belgium.
Telephone: (+32-2) 7625808
Faximile: (+32-2) 7629605, 7756510


Zimbabwe House, 798 Merton Street, PO Box 55140, Arcadia, Pretoria 0083
Phone: +27-12-3425125; +27-12-3424973; Fax: +27-12-3425126


Zimbabwe House, 429 Strand, London, WC2R 0QE


Embassy of Zimbabwe, 1608 New Hampshire Ave, Washington , DC 20009
Phone: 202-332-7100; Fax: 202-483-9326

Find other Embassies at Embassy Information.

eGGSA Gravestones in Zimbabwe.

Search the Rootsweb Zimbabwe list.

Zimbabwe Jewish Community. (Includes Zambia).

"This web site aims to celebrate over 114 years of Jewish Communities in Zimbabwe and Zambia and help record the history and details of a unique period for the benefit of both current and future generations".

Online Digital Publications

A History of Rhodesia by Howard Hensman 1900

The Rhodesiana Society Publications

Pioneer Forts in Rhodesia 1890-1897


2. Northern Rhodesia/Zambia

Place names - changes, meanings etc.

See map of Provinces and Capitals


With Abbreviations and Capitals

  • Central - CEN - Kabwe (Broken Hill)
  • Copperbelt - COP - Ndola
  • Eastern - EAS - Chipata
  • Luapula - LUA - Mansa
  • Lusaka - LUS - Lusaka
  • Northern - NOR - Kasama
  • North-Western - NWE - Solwezi
  • Southern - SOU - Livingstone
  • Western - WES - Mongu

Principle/larger Cities

  • Lusaka
  • Kitwe
  • Kabwe
  • Ndola
  • Chingola
  • Mufulira

  • Livingstone
  • Luanshya
  • Kasama
  • Chipata
  • Chililabombwe
  • Solwezi

Towns, villages and missions

A list of other place names is available in this document - please let June Barnes know if there are others that should be added to that document.

Zambia & Rhodesia Genealogy leads...

Genealogical Resources

National Archives of Zambia.

Search Rootsweb Zambia List.

eGGSA Gravestones in Zambia.

Zambian Embassy Addresses


USA – Permanent Mission of the Republic of Zambia to the United Nations

237 East 52nd Street, New York, NY 10022.
Phone: 00 1 212 888 5770; Fax: 00 1 212 888 5213

United States

Embassy of the Republic of Zambia
2419 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W; Washington, D.C 20008
Phone: 00 1 202 265 9717 / 8 / 9
Fax: 00 1 202 332-0826


3. Nyasaland/Malawi

Place names - changes, meanings etc.


With Abbreviations and Capitals

  • Central - CEN - Lilongwe
  • Northern - NOR - Mzuzu
  • Southern - SOU - Blantyre

Principle Cities

  • Lilongwe
  • Blantyre
  • Mzuzu
  • Zomba

Towns and Villages

A list of other place names is available in this document - please let June Barnes know if there are others that should be added to that document.

Genealogical Resources