As a Government Department, the Jamaica Archives began in 1955 with the establishment of an Archives Section in the Island Records Office.
The appointment of Clinton Black, as government archivist, was the first such appointment in the Commonwealth Caribbean.
The Jamaica Archives and Records Department is governed by the Archives Act, 1982 and the Archives (Official Records) Regulations, 1988. The Department consists of the Archives Unit, Audiovisual Archives Unit, Government Records Centre and the Office of the Government Archivist.
The Department serves as the main repository in the country for the preservation of government records in paper, audiovisual and electronic formats, relating to the country’s history and heritage.
It collects archival materials relating to Jamaica produced by government ministries, agencies and department and persons of national importance as well as churches, charities and other organisations to ensure that primary materials of cultural value to Jamaica are preserved.
It provides a research and reference service to the public and disseminates information on the collection to promote interest and knowledge of the nation’s history and culture.
The Government Archivist, Mrs. Claudette Thomas, is responsible for the general administration and common services of the Department.