History Workshop has published an 1809 letter written by a formerly enslaved woman, Mary Williamson, to her former owner in Jamaica. I know from my own research that uncovering the voices of women in the Caribbean past is extremely difficult, and it is even more so when it comes to enslaved women. Take a look at the letter over on the History Workshop website here
Digital Humanities Study Abroad, UF in Trinidad and Tobago – Hélène Huet
— Read on helenehuet.org/2018/03/12/digital-humanities-study-abroad-uf-in-trinidad-and-tobago/amp/
I stumbled across this fantastic collection of digitised manuscripts today. The Beinecke Collection is held by the Hamilton College Library. They have digitised hundreds of manuscripts from the 16th-19th century relating to the Lesser Antilles – the documents include maps, correspondence, legal documents and plantation reports. A document which particularly interests me is Grenada’s Book of Patents for 1765 to 1770, which is digitised in its entirety:) I’m constantly amazed at the online resources I can stumble across as I research places far away from my desk in Australia.
The picture is from the Beinecke Collection. I’ll publish a separate blogpost about the picture collection because it’s wonderful!
This 2011 blog post from the John J. Burns Library at Boston College describes two eighteenth-century letterbooks held in the Library’s Collection. The letterbooks belonged to Stephen Fuller, a British agent for Jamaica in the late eighteenth century. If you click on the hyperlink towards the end of the blogpost, you’ll go to the finding aid for the Williams Ethnological Collection, of which the Fuller letterbooks are a part. This Collection seems to hold some fascinating primary sources, relating to eighteenth and nineteenth century Jamaica. This would be a great place to start for anyone seeking a Jamaican research topic.
Time consuming and laborious, hand-written letterbooks were employed to keep a record of correspondence before modern technologies such as photocopiers, scanners and computers became commonplace tools. As part of the Williams Ethnological Collection, the Burns Library holds two letterbooks that belonged to Stephen Fuller. Fuller (1716 – 1808) was the British Agent for the Caribbean island of Jamaica in the late 18th Century, which was under British colonial rule from 1655 until 1962. Fuller held this post from 1765 to 1795 and these letterbooks cover his correspondence during the years 1762-1773 and 1776-1784. Thus, the books include transcriptions of letters regarding Fuller’s application for the position in the months leading up to his appointment. Fuller cited many well-connected potential supporters, including William “Alderman” Beckford—Lord Mayor of London in 1762, owner of two lucrative plantations in Jamaica, and father of the important author William Thomas Beckford who was…
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The British Library’s Endangered Archives programme contributes to the preservation of archival material that is in danger of destruction, neglect, or physical deterioration world-wide. In exciting news for historians of Haiti, the Endangered Archives programme has just approved a grant to work with the Bibliothèque Haïtienne des Frères de l’Instruction Chrétienne (BHFIC) in Port-au-Prince to digitise ninety-one Haitian newspapers published between 1813 and 1913. As set out in the Project overview, the material in the collection has been identified as BHFIC staff as vulnerable to degradation. The newspapers date from the years when Haiti was emerging from the Revolution. As the project team note, a rich and expanding international scholarship engages with the central impact of the Haitian Revolution—but research on Haiti’s post-revolutionary years “declines precipitously,” leaving an enormous gap in our understanding of the new nation after the first decade of the nineteenth century. Making the newspapers for that period accessible online will open up research possibilities in the future.
The digitised newspapers will eventually be available online via the British Library and the Digital Library of the Caribbean.
I learnt about this project on twitter—to monitor progress on the project, I suggest following Claire Antone Payton, a historian and PhD candidate at Duke University, and Erin Zavitz, Latin American and Caribbean History professor at University of Montana-Western.
Click here to go to the British Library Project Overview.
The real-life pirates of the Caribbean often had short careers, meeting with violent ends. We look at what happened to six of them…
This is an excellent article about the way that the curators at the Musée de l’Histoire de Nantes have displayed the portraits of Dominique and Marguerite Deurbroucq—and in particular, the way that the curators draw museum-goers’ attention to the enslaved Africans depicted in the portraits.
In May 2015, theMusée de l’Histoire de Nantes welcomed two of their most influential citizens of the eighteenth century to their permanent collection. The museum, housed in the Château des Ducs de Bretagne, received two portraits – one of Dominique Deurbroucq and the other of his wife Marguerite – both of which feature prominently in the main exhibition on Atlantic slavery and the slave trade in Nantes. Painted in 1753 by Pierre-Bernard Morlot, the Deurbroucqs are portrayed in all of the luxe of the century, accompanied by their domestic slaves who lived with them in Nantes. I recently visited the collection and was particularly interested in the framing of these two portraits within the narrative of the tran-Atlantic slave trade and the history of Nantes.
Pierre-Bernard Morlot, Portraits des Deurbroucq, 1753. (Photo credit to Nathan H. Dize)
For museums, memorial sites, and monuments, context…
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While doing some background research on the indigenous people of St.Vincent, I came across a great online exhibition on the King’s College London website. “The Paradise of the World:” conflict and society in the Caribbean” was originally held at KCL in 2011, but is now available as an online exhibition. This is such a great way to share resources and information—I love seeing exhibitions migrate from the real world to the online arena so that researchers can make use of the content for years afterwards.
The exhibition drew largely upon the holdings of the historical library collection of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office and explored the history of the Caribbean region from the sixteenth century to 1900. Because the exhibition is based on British documentation and literature, the exhibition clearly approaches the Caribbean form the perspective of British interaction with the region. The exhibition provides an overview of Britain’s relationship with Spain as it relates to the Caribbean, international rivalry, the sugar trade and revolts and revolution in Jamaica and Haiti. and the development of the sugar industry and trade. In relation to indigenous peoples in the Caribbean (which is how I stumbled across the exhibition), there is a very good overview of indigenous peoples of Guyana and St.Vincent as well as some material on Jacques Du Tetre’s interaction with indigenous people in the region and his writings. Finally, the exhibition covers emancipation, and nineteenth century Caribbean colonial life.
This exhibition would be very useful for introductory research on the Caribbean (particularly the British Caribbean), and it includes a number of primary sources such as books, artwork and documentation which are available online. Click here to go to the KCL exhibition.
The link below will take you to an article written by Miles Ogborn, Professor of Geography at Queen Mary University of London.
Jamaican Maroons fought two major wars against the British during the 18th century. With reference to maps and views in the King’s Topographical Collection, Miles Ogborn investigates this community of escaped slaves and their attempts to win back independence.
The Voyages Database as we know it today—an open-access website—was launched in the mid-2000s, after initially being released as a subscription-based CD-ROM. Voyages comprises more than 35,000 individual slaving expeditions between 1514 and 1866. The records provide information about vessels, enslaved peoples, slave traders and owners, and trading routes.
The Voyages team have recently developed some new features, including an animation feature that helps bring into clearer focus the horrifying scale and duration of the trade. The site also recently implemented a system for visitors to contribute new data. As a result, in the last year alone, the project team has added more than a thousand new voyages and revised details on many others.
This is a link to an article recently published on The Conversation by the project team which provides background on the challenges of working with the complex data that sits behind Voyages, as well as a great explanation of the ways that users (you and I) can engage with Voyages. The article also points out that Voyages continues to collect lesson plans that teachers in middle school, high school and college have created around the database. There are some great resources available on the site for teachers, students, and researchers.