In December 2018, the British Library completed the digitisation of The Barbados Mercury Gazette, funded through the endangered archives project. The digitisation team have previously written about different stages of the project; in this post the team divulge some more about the process of digitising this vital piece of Barbadian history.
The Mercury is a fantastic resource for exploring everyday life in eighteenth and nineteenth century Barbados – each issue is about 4 pages long and is replete with advertisements for consumer goods and real estate; runaway slave advertisements; shipping news; reports of community meetings and social events, and news cut-and-pasted from around the Atlantic world. To access the database, follow this link: Link to the Barbados Mercury online
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.