Surnames and Family Research Forum Archive
Re: McDONALD, William in Panama Canal Zone
In Response To: McDONALD, William in Panama Canal Zone ()
The U.S. didn't take over construction of the Panama Canal until 1904. Prior to that time, it was under the control of a French firm (approx 1881-1893), which was abandoned in 1893 after the deaths of over 20,000 workers. If your ancestor worked on the canal prior to the time the U.S. took control, I would imagine that any archives of same might be in a French archive somewhere???
However, I found this info on the NARA website, but it only covers employment records after the U.S. took over:
African Americans started arriving on the Canal Zone in the early construction years of 1904-1908. They secured employment as many others did, directly through the various canal recruitment offices in the United States or through contractors doing work in the Canal Zone. Upon arrival, they ran headlong into a separatist/racist employment system that affected every phase of life there."
I also found an interesting link on the BBC website which profiled the life of a black man, born in Wales, who has ancestors who were from Jamaica and worked on the Panama Canal for both the French and American teams:
The link for that article:
*** Does anyone else have any ideas about where employment of the French-term Panama Canal might be kept? ***
Good luck in your search.
- Lisa B. Lee, PLCGS
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