Hunt, Benjamin P., West Indies Collection

BPL/Hunt copy of the Code Henry (1812) BPL 4295.59, opens a new window
BPL/Hunt copy of the Code Henry (1812) BPL 4295.59

(Rare Books & Manuscripts) This collection consists of approximately 8,000 books, pamphlets, manuscripts, maps, charts, and engravings relating to the discovery and history of the West Indies, with special emphasis on Haiti and Barbados.

The nucleus of the collection was bequeathed to the library by Benjamin P. Hunt (1808-1877). A one-time resident of Chelmsford, Hunt was long engaged with commerce in Haiti and the West Indies. At a relatively early date, Hunt brought together his uniquely extensive and wide-ranging collection of materials relating to the islands.

Now fortified by later additions, the collection contains printed materials that range in date from the 16th to 20th centuries, including rare Haitian imprints from the imperial press, nearly 200 French documents concerning the colonies, numerous pilot guides, legal codes, and works on history, politics, and natural science. Manuscripts include Henry Howard’s three volume Journal, written while an officer in the British army occupying Santo Domingo; Hunt’s own extensive unpublished notes on Haiti; and 18th and 19th century documents related to the French occupation. The collection also includes a handwritten and annotated catalog of Hunt’s own library, along with a typed checklist that brings together most of the Haitian manuscripts.

The collection has been described in some depth in More Books (Oct. 1929, pages 313-321), opens a new window and in the B.P.L. Quarterly (1959, pages 21-32, opens a new window, 131-142, opens a new window, 210-216, opens a new window). (Rare Books & Manuscripts)