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Early Caribbean History

Primary Source Databases (Rutgers Only)


  • Colonial Caribbean: is a collection of digitized British government documents produced by the British Colonial Office. These files document, from a British colonial perspective, the history of the Caribbean region from the 17th – 19th centuries. On this platform, Rutgers has access to the following modules:

  • Caribbean Literature; Collection of Caribbean poetry and fiction published during the 19th and 20th centuries.

  • Slavery, Abolition & Social Justice brings together digitized primary source material from archives around the world relating to the history of slavery, with a focus on the various forms slavery has taken around the globe, slaves' experiences and testimonies, abolitionist and social justice movements, and the global legacy of slavery. Document types include manuscripts, government publications, court records, pamphlets, books, maps, images, testimonials, and voyage logs. The collection includes materials produced in Africa, Europe, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, North America, and South America. It also includes thematic companion essays and historical timelines. Date: 1490-2008
  • Empire Onlinedigitized primary sources on the history of empires and empire building in the modern era. The collection focuses on the British Empire, though it also includes materials on American imperialism, with materials written from a range of perspectives including indigenous peoples in Africa, India, North America and by French, Spanish, Portuguese and Germans. Material types include essays, atlases, monographs, autobiographies, reports of government agencies and voluntary organizations, magazine articles, fiction, sermons, letters, and diaries. Dates: 1492-2007

  • Latin American NewspapersLatin American Newspapers is a collection of historical newspapers from North, Central and South America, and the Caribbean from the 19th and early 20th centuries. It includes all content originally published in print, including all articles, illustrations, and advertisements. Dates: 1800-1922

  • Confidential Print: Latin America, 1833-1969 is a collection of digitized British government documents produced by the Foreign and Colonial Offices. These documents, marked “Confidential Print,” were printed and circulated immediately to leading officials in the Foreign Office, to the Cabinet, and to heads of British missions abroad. This collection consists of documents for Central and South America and the French- and Spanish-speaking Caribbean. These files document Latin American history from a British perspective. Material types include diplomatic dispatches, charts and tables, accounts of tours, profiles of major personalities, correspondence, maps, conference and meeting minutes, and texts of treaties.



U.S. Based Materials: these materials are included as possible sources for locating U.S. dialogues or engagements with the Early Caribbean. 

  • Black Thought and Culture is a landmark electronic collection of approximately 100,000 pages of non-fiction writings by major American black leaders. Types of material include articles and essays, monographs, speeches, interviews, pamphlets, and correspondence. Approximately twenty percent is previously unpublished, including transcripts from the Columbia University Oral History Project. Dates: 18th-20th centuries.

  • African American newspapers in the South (series 1) Digitized historical newspapers originally published by and for African Americans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the Southern U.S. Each newspaper issue in this collection has been fully digitized and is fully searchable, including all articles, obituaries, advertisements, editorials, and illustrations. Some of the major titles in the collection include The Colored Citizen (KS), Arkansas State PressRights of All (NY), Wisconsin Afro-AmericanNew York AgeL’Union (LA), Northern Star and Freeman’s Advocate (NY), Richmond PlanetCleveland Gazette, and The Appeal (MN). Dates 1827-1998

  • The Liberator Newspaper. Boston: 1831-1865 (RU Login)

Primary Source Databases (Open Access)

Sources in English

  • Early Caribbean Digital Archive: pre 1900, literary and cultural docs written or related by black, enslaved, Creole, indigenous, and/or colonized people of the Caribbean.
  • Digital Library of the Caribbean: cooperative digital library for resources from and about the Caribbean and circum-Caribbean. Cultural, historical and research materials include images, books, maps, newspapers and more! 
  • Transatlantic Slave Trade DatabaseThis accessible database compiles information about more than 36,000 voyages that forcibly transported enslaved Africans across the Atlantic between 1514 and 1866. Search and analyze the database for information on the broad origins of enslaved people, the tortuous Middle Passage, and the destinations of Africans in the Americas.
  • Haiti Digital Library

    Project of Duke University's Haiti Laboratory with links to a number of digital collections about Hait

  • HathiTrust Digital Library - Search millions of books, government publications, dissertations, journals, and other published and unpublished materials. Includes hundreds of works in French and Latin, mostly from the 18th and 19th centuries. (NetID Required)

  • CARIDISCHO : A Directory of Caribbean Digital ScholarshipAn open-source bibliography of digital resources resulting from—and meant for—the study of the Caribbean

          Images & Maps


Sources in Spanish

  • Biblioteca Digital Hispánica: The Hispanic Digital Library is the digital library of the National Library of Spain. It provides free access to thousands of digitized documents, including books printed between the 15th and 20th centuries, manuscripts, drawings, engravings, pamphlets, posters, photographs, maps, atlases, sheet music, historical press and sound recordings. See specific collections (Historia de América and Independencia americana)
  • Latin American Travelogues digital collection: El Caribe Digital Archive: El Caribe is a Spanish-language daily newspaper published in Santo Domingo and is one of the Dominican Republic’s most influential and longest-running newspapers. Founded in 1948

Sources in French

  • La Gazette Royale Project: all of the known issues of the two newspapers published during Henry Christophe’s rule of northern Haiti, as well as the six different versions of the comprehensive collection of Almanach Royal d’Hayti La Gazette Officielle de l’état d’Hayti and La Gazette Royale d’Hayti issued by the royal press. The most to appear in a single repository, there are 97 separate issues gathered on this website. Materials are downloadable and transcribed in French.
  • Manioc : bibliothèque numérique Caraïbe, Amazonie, plateau des GuyaneManioc is a digital library specializing in the Francophone Caribbean, the Amazon and the Guiana Plateau. You will find textual, audio, iconographic documents and references concerning the cultural, social, economic or political history of these territories.
  • Gallica - A source of thousands of books in the collections of the National Library of France (BnF), but also of digitized manuscripts, still images, audiovisual materials, and more. (Open Access)


Selected Primary Sources

The history of Mary Prince, related by herself
The history of Mary Prince, related by herself

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