Haitian Manuscripts Collection

(Rare Books & Manuscripts)

The Haitian Manuscripts Collection is a group of over 1,000 items created in Haiti from approximately 1714 to 1916. The collection documents French colonial rule of Saint-Domingue, British and American interests in the region, the Revolution, the beginning of Haitian self-rule, and the development and evolution of the republic through the early 20th century.

Among other materials, the collection includes personal correspondence, business documents, financial records, government records, and military orders related broadly to the history of the country. Many of the materials in the collection were created by, or relate to significant figures in Haitian history, including Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Toussaint Louverture, Henry (Henri) Christophe, Alexandre Pétion, Jean Pierre Boyer, Donatien-Marie-Joseph de Vimeur, and Julien Raimond.

The group of manuscripts that constitute the Haitian Manuscripts Collection, as it exists today, were assembled primarily between 1966 and 1972. Individual items were purchased from booksellers, received via donation, or transferred from previously existing BPL collections, such as the Benjamin P. Hunt West Indies Collection. Hundreds of the manuscripts in the collection were acquired from Kurt A. Fischer in 1966.

Topical coverage in the Haitian Manuscripts Collection overlaps broadly with the Benjamin P. Hunt West Indies Collection, the BPL’s general collection of materials related to the West Indies, and the BPL Anti-Slavery Collection. Manuscripts from or relating to Haiti can be found in each of these collections and groups of materials.

Searching and browsing online

Descriptions of the contents of the Haitian Manuscripts Collection can be browsed online in the BPL's archival finding aid repository, opens a new window. While there are many ways to search for and browse related BPL manuscript holdings, performing an advanced search in the BPL research catalog for genre: manuscripts and keyword: Haiti will return descriptions of many relevant materials. (Rare Books & Manuscripts)