IntroductionYou have decided to research your ancestry and build your family tree. You want to know about your direct family members: parents, siblings, grandparents, etc; or your relationship with your more or less distant cousins . You also want to find out about the geographical area where they lived, their professions or skills, etc. If this is so, you are already a budding genealogist.
We will try to help you in your first steps. Follow the guide...
But before , please ask yourself these basic questions:
How much time can I afford?
No matter how much time you can afford per day, per week, per month, etc. If you really want to do it, you will find some time. It is just a question of organisation. It is a never ending quest. So, please, be patient.
Is genealogy expensive?
Researching your family should not dig a hole in you pocket. At least, for most of the time. It can become expensive if you need to travel overseas to inteview family members or to carry out research in other countries archives. With a good internet connection you should be able to search some online archives and records published by genealogical associations. Many of these records are free though you may need to register to view the records. Some of the records can only be accessed through paid subscriptions. Our advice is not to join paid sites unless you are sure that you cannot do otherwise. Be patient and remember that some new research avenues can be assessible at any time.
How far back can I go?
If for the Mauritian of European descent, it is possible to go back far enough (XVII - XVIII centuries), it is not just the case for slaves and freedmen. These have lost all traces of their original surnames. The censuses of slaves and emancipation records give only the country of origin. Often, the term "Creole of Mauritius" completely obscures the country of origin of parents of children born in Mauritius at that time. Therefore rendering it almost impossible to further one's research. A few manumitted slaves have inherited or have been given names at the time of their emancipation.
All slaves were baptised and were "rewarded" with a first name. Later, when they had to give a surname to their slaves, some wicked owners, siezed this opportunity, gave their slaves eccentric and degrading surnames. Therefore, for slaves and freedmen, it is possible to find information at best up to the early eighteenth century. Fire and cyclones having destroyed part of the parish records do not facilitate research either.
For the descendants of Mauritians of Asian origin arrived in the country, as indentured labour, after the abolition of slavery in 1835, the decennial tables and vital registration records would provide the most information on the ancestors until the arrival of the first immigrant from India or China. These archives on early Asian immigrants are at the Mahatma Gandhi Institute in Moka, Mauritius. A file can be obtained on request depending on whether one finds the Immigrant Number in his birth, marriage or death certificates from the Civil Status Office. If you're lucky, it is likely that you will find pictures of your immigrant ancestors in the file. In some cases, the Immigrant Number is attributed by the Protector of Immigrants and research should be directed to the Protector of Immigrants files who are in the National Archives of Mauritius in Coromandel.
There is also another category of people from Asia and have contributed to the settlement of the island. Those were the artisans, domestic servants, etc. who accompanied the employees of the East India Company and married among themselves or with some of the early settlers. They had sometimes a surname or in other cases nothing but a name or a nickname. Again, their ancestors can prove difficult to trace.
For natural and abandoned children, the research will be more difficult, mainly for the latter, if the identity of the parents is not known. Today, there is a small step forward with the DNA tests but the process is not accessible to all and can not accurately target the origins of individual research.
Will anybody help me?
Some members of your family might be willing to help you. We will suggest you join the forumImaugento obtain help with your research. There are also other forums available for different countries, regions, cities, etc. Again some are free with registration but there are a few paying sources available on the net.
What do I do with my findings?
In the end, your research will constitute a very interesting story about your family and its origins. You have the possibility of publishing your work as a book or e-book that you would offer to your parents, siblings, cousins, etc. Another solution would be to create a GEDCOM from your data and send it to us. We will publish your family tree on our website free of charge.