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
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.
Click here to access the Collection.
The picture is from the Beinecke Collection. I’ll publish a separate blogpost about the picture collection because it’s wonderful!
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…
Source: The fates of six real-life pirates of the Caribbean
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.
‘Chatoyer, the Chief of the Black Charaibes in St Vincent with his five wives,’ from Bryan Edwards, The history, civil and commercial, of the British colonies in the West Indies (London, 1807).
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.