Devendra Singh

Devendra Singh

A very informative article and a guide for Fiji Indians residing in the United States and for all those who are able to visit the Latter Day Saints (LDS) Church Library at Salt Lake City in Utah.  This very valuable article was put together by Mr Devendra Singh.  Girmitunited.org would like to sincerely express our gratitude to Mr Singh for his valuable contribution to this cause.

 

Introduction

Fijian people of Indian descent can trace the details of their family history back to India by gathering detailed information about their ancestors’ emigration activity and then requesting the emigration pass from the Fiji National Archives. For many people, making a trip to Fiji to view the records that are kept there on microfilm can be difficult. Also, some may have very limited family history information available to them and may not know on which ship their relative had arrived.

Fortunately, there is a simpler way of finding those emigration passes and it can be done fairly easily in Salt Lake City, Utah in the United States of America. The Family History Library in Salt Lake City keeps a copy of the same microfilms that are stored in Fiji and the library is free and open to the public. Even if one has limited family history information, one can still find the emigration passes of one’s ancestors and make high-resolution digital copies for one’s records. That information can then be taken to India to continue the search. The library is well organized and staffed with very helpful librarians. This article explains how you can find an emigration pass even if you only know the following information:

  • Born in Fiji in 1918 or later
  • The first name of an immediate relative (grandparent, great-grandparent) who was born Fiji in 1918 or later.
  • The first name of that relative’s father
  • The first name of that relative’s mother

Most of the time, you will have even more information than this, such as dates of birth, marriage, and death, but we will assume one only knows the three items mentioned above, since it is the easiest information to come across.

Summary

These steps summarize how to find an emigration pass when starting with limited information. I will describe each step carefully further below.

  1. Search the Index of “Birth Registers of Indians in Fiji, 1895-1989″ for a registry entry for the birth of your grandparent.
  2. Note down the registry index number associated with that birth.
  3. Using the index number, find the birth registration form.
  4. Look over the birth registration form for any clues regarding the Indian origins of the parents.
  5. Using any of the clues obtained from the birth registration form, find the appropriate ship, then retrieve its microfilm and look through it for the emigration pass. 

It may be possible to do Steps 1 – 4 at a Family History Center near your home.  Many of the “Birth Registers of Indians in Fiji” microfilms are available for loan to other locations.  You can search for a nearby Family History Center at https://familysearch.org/ and pay a small fee to have those microfilms sent there.  You can see which microfilms are available for lending when you click on the microfilm number on the website.  The microfilms required for Step 5 are not available for loan, so the final step of finding the emigration pass would have to be done at the main library in Salt Lake City.  I found it much easier to do everything at the main library in Salt Lake City, especially because I was researching several relatives.  As you research you might find other clues and information that will lead you to look at other microfilms such as death and marriage records.  Also, sometimes a microfilm is labeled incorrectly and the record you need is actually on the next film in the sequence.  It is much easier to do all of this work at the main library.

The Steps in Detail

 

Finding the birth registration index number for your grandparent

To find the birth registration of the grandparent in question, the grandparent must have been born in Fiji between the years 1918 and 1989. The closer their birth is to the year 1918, the more likely it is that his or her parents were from India. Do the following at the LDS Library. Remember to bring a USB drive with you for any scanned copies that you will make.

IMPORTANT

  • At the library, navigate to https://familysearch.org/catalog-search
  • Type “Fiji” in the “Place Name” field and click Search. Your search should result in a long list of archives including Archives, Census, Church History, etc.
  • Expand the section named “Fiji – Civil registration”
  • Select “Birth Registers of Indians in Fiji, 1895-1989″. Even though births are index back to 1895, the library only has the birth registrations on microfilm for 1918 or later.
  • Under the section labeled “Film Notes”, you will see a list of Index volumes. Select one based on the year in which your grandparent was born. If you do not know the year, start with the first index and work your way through all eight. In my case, I knew that my grandfather was born in 1929, so I searched the first index named “Index to Indian births Vols. 1- 6 1895-1929″. Note down the volume number (eg. 759207) and go get the microfilm.
  • Search the microfilm by the grandparent’s father’s name. Match the grandparent’s mother’s name in the next column and, in most cases, you will be able to find the registration entry for the grandparent in question.
  • Note down the birth registration index number from the last column (eg. 1376).

Finding the birth registration form for your grandparent

To find the birth registration form of the grandparent in question, do the following:

IMPORTANT

  • Go back to “Birth Registers of Indians in Fiji, 1895-1989″.
  • Scroll through the listing and look for the volume that will contain the index number that you noted down from the previous search. For example, if your index number is falls between 1501 and 1950, then you would need “Indian births F1501-1950 1929″ which is Microfilm #755378.
  • Get the microfilm and search for the birth registration form. The forms are sorted in numerical order.
  • Once you find the form, read it over carefully for any clue about where child’s father and mother were from. In my case, I was very lucky. The clerk who recorded the birth also recorded the fact that the father arrived on the “Sangola #5″ ship and the clerk also noted down his father’s name. In that one birth registration form, I found my grandfather’s exact birth date, the name of his father and ship of arrival, and also the name and village of his grandfather (my great-great-grandfather). In other cases, if one of the parents was from India, the girmit registration number might be written somewhere on the form. In that case, you can look up that number here and figure out which ship that relative arrived on.
  • Note down all relevant information. To find an emigration pass for one of your Indian ancestors, you will need to know either the name of the ship he or she arrived on or his or her girmit registration number (between 1 and 60,533).

At this point, you will probably want to make a high resolution copy of the birth registration record. To do that, do the following:

  • Pull the microfilm carefully off of the rollers and take it over to the digital scanners located at the front of the library.
  • Place the microfilm onto the digital scanner and make a high resolution digital copy of the record.

 

The example birth registration below is that of my grandfather. He was born in Fiji in 1929. The child's father's name and grandfather's name are both recorded ("F/N" means "Father's Name"). Also, it was noted that the father (my great-grandfather) was from "ship Sangola No 5". This was the clue that allowed me to eventually find his emgiration pass using the next steps below.

The example birth registration aboveis that of my grandfather. He was born in Fiji in 1929. The child’s father’s name and grandfather’s name are both recorded (“F/N” means “Father’s Name”). Also, it was noted that the father (my great-grandfather) was from “ship Sangola No 5″. This was the clue that allowed me to eventually find his emgiration pass using the next steps below.

 

Finding the emigration pass of your grandparent’s parent

At this point, you will know at least the name of the ship and the name of the relative you are looking for. To find the emigration pass, do the following:

IMPORTANT

  • Go back to https://familysearch.org/catalog-search
  • Type “Fiji” in the “Place Name” field and click Search. Your search should result in a long list of archives including Archives, Census, Church History, etc.
  • Expand the section named “Fiji – Emigration and Immigration”
  • Select “Indian immigration passes, 1879-1916″.
  • Use the list of ships (posted here) to figure out which year you need to look through. For example, I knew I needed to look through the “Sangola 5″ which arrived in Fiji on March 7, 1910. So I would look through 833124, 833125, 833126, and 833127. If you’re lucky enough to have the girmit registration number from the earlier steps above, you will be able to find the ships pass very easily. Otherwise, you will have to scroll through quite a few records – but its possible.

 

Passes

 

Important Notes About Microfilms

Most microfilms are located on the library floor and are well organized and easily found. Some films require special procedures to obtain. Please note the following definitions:

 IMPORTANT

  • Family History Library INTL Access Services Window: This means you will have to request the film at the front desk. The front desk will hold your drivers license while you use these microfilms
  • Granite Mountain Record Vault INTL Film: This means the film must be requsted from the off-site vault and will arrive at the main library the next day (see 833123 is the image above). If you request a film early enough in the morning, you may receive it that same day – but don’t count on it. Be sure to figure out very early in your visit which items you will need from the vault and fill out the necessary forms at the front desk to request them.

 

Photos from the LDS Family History Library

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The Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.A.

 

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A look down one of the many corridors containing several isles of records in cabinets

 

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Finding the right drawer for this microfilm

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A drawer of microfilms

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A digital microfilm scanner. Use this to make a high resolution copy of any records that find on microfilm. Remember to take a USB drive!

 

NOTE

Girmitunited.org would like to thank Mr Devendra Singh for sharing his research and providing us with such valuable information.  Your very thorough notes will certainly assist many people to locate their relatives immigration passes.  I am indeed very grateful to you, for sharing this will us.  Thank you.  – Vanita