Americas and Oceania Collections blog

Exploring the Library’s collections from the Americas and Oceania

01 August 2022

Electronic resources for research in Caribbean Studies

Patience yields rewards at the BL.”
My colleague Philip Abraham regularly repeats these wise words to BL users (and me). This can be especially true in the area of online Caribbean Studies; the path to useful discovery is not always a linear one! Continuing our series focusing on digitally accessible resources to augment research by users of the British Library, this blog shall share some relevant links.
So, where to begin? You can start by clicking on this link: and scrolling down to the Electronic Resources box.

Once ‘in’, options to search for material are innumerable, though typing the word ‘Caribbean’ in the search box does not either yield information from the Advanced Search or Subject headings. The Title heading offers Caribbean Newspapers 1718-1876 for those interested in news emanating from the region during that 158-year period. Typing the word ‘literature’ in the search box brings up various databases like Literature Online which provides a digital library of drama, poetry and prose along with bibliographies, biographies, complementary sources and useful web links via the ProQuest. I happily discovered material on the St. Lucian- Canadian writer Canisia Lubrin, the Trinidadian-British playwright Mustapha Matura, and an excellent piece on the tensions between the Voudou religion and Christianity found in work by the Guadeloupean writer  Maryse Condé.

The ProQuest search box is itself a gift of generous yields. Typing in ‘Caribbean history’ offers over 12, 218 results! Among them a review of the Dominican Republic’s history as re/interpreted by the writer Junot Díaz in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and seen through the lens of the fantastical and marvellous.

Image of Guadeloupean writer Maryse Conde wearing a brightly coloured top and bold gold earrings
Writer Maryse Condé (Photo credit: Brice Toul/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images)

Communist Historical Newspapers Collections supplied by ProQuest via the BL’s Electronic Resources search box brings up articles about notable Caribbean individuals like Marcus Garvey (Jamaica), Claudia Jones (Trinidad &Tobago), Lolita Lebron (Puerto Rico) and George Padmore (Trinidad & Tobago). Articles written by Padmore for the Chicago Defender are on the Historical Newspapers: Chicago Defender database as are articles on Fidel Castro (Cuba), Rafael Trujillo (Dominican Republic), François Duvalier (Haiti) and pianist Hazel Scott (Trinidad & Tobago).

The British Library’s Endangered Archives Programme (EAP) is another source of rich online discovery. Caribbean projects supported by the EAP includes Siete Villas of Cuba: - creating a digital archive of over 500,000- pages of documents recording the history of African diaspora peoples in the seven oldest cities of Cuba. From the brink: - collecting and digitising records of the Turks and Caicos Islands after the destruction caused by Hurricane Ike in 2008 is another EAP supported project. 

Image of a pair of hands holding a small archive item amidst a large pile of similar material
Endangered Archive Programme image courtesy the British Library

Delving into the BL’s cornucopia of digital resources with focus and patience is a rewarding venture for any researcher of Caribbean Studies!
The next blog in this series will be on e-resources supporting research on Oceania Studies.