Caribbean History and Culture Collection

Covering the 16th century to the early 20th century, the Caribbean History and Culture collection encompasses a wide range of topics involving the commercial, cultural, and political matters of the Caribbean. Much of the collection also concerns exploration, colonization, slavery, and revolution in the West Indies, as well as these topics’ connections to Africa, Europe, and North, Central, and South America. Most items were published in England, France, Spain, the Netherlands, and the United States.

This collection is fully cataloged, text-searchable, and downloadable through Readex as the Caribbean History and Culture Collection, which can be accessed free of charge while connected to the Library Company’s internet. The collection emerged from a 2012 partnership with Readex to digitize more than 12,000 items in the Library Company’s African American History and Culture Collection. Among these materials, the curators identified over 1,400 books, pamphlets, almanacs, broadsides, and ephemera that pertain to the Caribbean. Although these high-quality digitizations accurately reflect the Library Company’s holdings, originals can still be viewed in the reading rooms.

It is worth noting that Readex does not encompass the entire breadth of Caribbeana available at the Library Company. This collection is the largest and most significant of its kind, and the process of identifying additional Caribbeana within the Library Company’s printed and visual materials is ongoing. For more information about Caribbean History and Culture, please contact a librarian and search the Caribbeana tag on our Online Resources page.

A. Wynn Eakins, Reading Room Assistant

May 2023

  • Library Company of Philadelphia. Afro-Americana 1553-1906: A Catalog of the Holdings of the Library Company of Philadelphia and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. (New Castle, 2008).
  • Library Company of Philadelphia. An African American Miscellany: Selections from a Quarter Century of Collecting, 1970-1995. (1996).
  • Pactor, Howard S. Colonial British Caribbean newspapers: a bibliography and directory. (New York, 1990).
  • Dunkelman, Arthur. The Jay I. Kislak Collection at the Library of Congress: a catalog of the gift of the Jay I. Kislak Foundation to the Library of Congress. (Washington DC, 2007).
  • Ragatz, Lowell J. A guide for the study of British Caribbean history, 1763-1834: including the abolition and emancipation movements. (New York, 1970).
  • Núñez, Benjamín. Dictionary of Afro-Latin American civilization. (Westport, 1980).

Marronage, Medicine, and Mythology: Narrating Obeah in the 19th Century | Collection Review

Origins of an Archive: Enslavers & the Geopolitics of Knowledge Production in an Age of Abolition

Navigating Neutrality: Early American Governance in the Turbulent Atlantic (Book Talk)

Merchants of Medicines: The Commerce & Coercion of Health in Britain’s Long 18th C. | Fireside Chat

The Politics of Feeling in the Transatlantic Age of Reason

Liberty Displaying the Arts & Sciences: Abolition & Empire in the Post-Revolution Atlantic World

Slave Revolt and the Practices of Containment | Fireside Chat

African Voices from the Transatlantic Slave Trade | Fireside Chat

The Fabric of Empire: Material and Literary Cultures of the Global Atlantic | Fireside Chat

Smugglers, Pirates, and Patriots: Free Trade in the Age of Revolution| Fireside Chats