Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

Jesús Ruiz published on the New York Public Library website

October 7th, 2016

Jesús Ruiz, Ph.D Candidate at Tulane University and Short-Term Research Fellow at the Schomburg Center, writes about his first ever visit to the Schomburg Center’s Manuscripts, Archives, and Rare Books Division, and his elation over discovering rare gems in our collections.

Having never visited the Schomburg Center, I was immediately impressed by the excellent physical state of the documents as I mined through the Haiti Miscellaneous Collection. I found fascinating records, most of which are in French, dealing with some of the reactions that both American and French authorities had to the revolts of August 1791 in the northern plains of Saint Domingue. From cutouts of a Baltimore newspaper in the early 1790s translating a speech given by Toussaint Louverture in the French colony, to official correspondence between various British, American, and French captains, generals and Citoyens, respectively, this collection helped me begin to establish some important transatlantic links between Saint-Domingue, the British Empire, and the United States. Although my project does not deal directly with masonry, I was impressed by the amount of documents pertaining to masonic lodges/societies in late colonial and early-modern Haiti, which could be of particular interest to scholars.

I was also very intrigued by some documents in the Kurt Fisher Haitian Collection, which included petitions for pensions by former military members of Toussaint Louverture‘€™s forces early in the revolution. These requests provide interesting insight into the life of soldiers early in the insurrection and are both in original French and English translations, which makes them fairly easy to navigate. Even though these types of petitions can be found in other repositories, it is an advantage to be able to have English translations of them on hand. Another important collection is the Joseph Boromé Papers. Boromé provides a very detailed database of primary source material from around the world pertaining to Toussaint Louverture and the Haitian Revolution. He is careful to provide short English translations of documents, whether they be in their original Spanish or French, and also provides individual summaries of the thousands of documents he outlines. It is quite an impressive collection.

Read the full article here.