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Sources for Jamaican History: Government Documents

This guide provides descriptions and links to useful databases, websites, digital collections and other resources for researching Caribbean History.

About

Government documents are primary sources of government activities. Highlighted here are documents of particular use for historical research. These can be found in the libraries and archives listed here

Statistical Records

Guide to Government Documents at the National Library of Jamaica provides details of general and frequently used government documents in Jamaica.

Statistical  based historical government documents can be found at the University of the West Indies Mona Library, Government Serials office; National Library of Jamaica and the Jamaica Archives and Records Department.

Blue Books 

Blue books provide statistical data covering population and vital statistics, civil service, government revenue and expenditure, transport, imports and exports among other things. Blue books exist for most, if not all, the commonwealth Caribbean countries, for example, Dominica, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and St. Lucia. Blue books can be found from the mid 19th century to the mid 20th century.

Handbooks

Handbooks comprise historical statistical and general information compiled from official and reliable records. Handbooks can be found from the late 1800s to the mid 1900s. The handbooks are especially useful for the general and historical information provided to supplement the statistical.

Departmental Reports

Departmental reports were first printed as part of the Blue books and later published as part of the annual general reports.

Parliamentary Records

Primary evidence of government activity and discussions in parliament can be found in various legislative reporting documents  covering the period of the 17th century to present. The holdings in the libraries and archives may differ from institution to another but list of the holding at  National Library Jamaica can be found here while the holdings at the University of the West Indies are accessible via the UWILinC portal

Hansards

Hansards cover the period 1946 to present and are printed in two separate issues;Proceedings of the House of Representatives and Proceedings of Senate. 

Hansard Proceedings of the Legislative Council cover the period 1936-1962. 

Minutes

Minutes of the Legislative Council - early to mid 1900s

Minutes of the House of Representative - mid 1900s

Journals

Journal of Legislative Council - 1800s

Journal of the House of Assembly - 1600s to early 1800s

Debates of the House of Assembly 

Debates of the House of Assembly - mid 1800s

Votes

Votes of the House of Assembly 1700s to 1800s

Laws and Regulations

Legislation passed and brought into effect prior to 2010 can be found online via the Ministry of Justice. Legislation passed after 2009 are available on the Houses of Parliament website.

Most of the historical records of government legal documents exist in printed formats at the three main historical institutions in Jamaica.