Colonial Caribbean

Colonial Caribbean

Colonial Caribbean is a collection of digitized British government documents produced by the British Colonial Office. These files document, from a British colonial perspective, the history of the Caribbean region from the 17th – 19th centuries. On this platform, Rutgers has access to the following modules:

  • Module I: Settlement, Slavery, and Empire, 1624-1832: covers the establishment of British colonial settlement, the rise of absentee landlords, the rise and decline of the slave trade, and the rise of the abolition movement.
  • Module II: Colonial Government and Abolition, 1833-1849: covers the passing of the Slavery Abolition Act, its impact on the Caribbean islands and their governments, the introduction of apprenticeships, and resistance to abolitionist legislation.  
  • Module III: Economic Change and Indentured Labour, 1850-1870: covers the rise of indentured labor of Chinese and Indian workers against a backdrop of injustice and poverty in previously enslaved communities, leading to widespread rebellion across the Caribbean.

The collection includes all documents dated between 1624-1870 found in the following Colonial Office File classes:

  • CO 7/1-144: Antigua and Montserrat (Original Correspondence)
  • CO 8/1-31: Antigua (Acts)
  • CO 23/1-203: Bahamas (includes Turks and Caicos Islands up to 1848)
  • CO 28/1-213: Barbados
  • CO 37/1-200: Bermuda
  • CO 71/1-141: Dominica
  • CO 101/1-130: Grenada
  • CO 110/1-25: Guadeloupe
  • CO 111/1-382: British Guiana, formerly Berbice, Demerara and Essequibo (Original Correspondence)
  • CO 116/1-239: British Guiana, formerly Berbice, Demerara and Essequibo (Miscellanea)
  • CO 123/142: British Honduras
  • CO 137/1-454: Jamaica
  • CO 152/1-106: Leeward Islands (Original Correspondence)
  • CO 154/1-6: Leeward Islands (Acts)
  • CO 166/1-7: Martinique
  • CO 175/1-20: Montserrat
  • CO 184/1-19: Nevis
  • CO 239/1-123: St Christopher (St. Kitts), Nevis and Anguilla
  • CO 245/1-10: Santo Domingo
  • CO 253/1-147: St. Lucia
  • CO 260/1-113: St. Vincent
  • CO 285/1-88: Tobago
  • CO 295/1-254: Trinidad
  • CO 301/1-56: Turks and Caicos
  • CO 314/1-22: Virgin Islands
  • CO 318/1-260: West Indies
  • WO 1/19-60,404-405: West Indies

The original files are located in the National Archives of the United Kingdom.

The collection was prepared with the oversight of an editorial board of scholars from around the world. Many documents in this collection are written from a colonialist perspective and may use terminology that is outdated or offensive by present-day standards.  A section of essays and video interviews by scholars contextualize the materials and explain how they can be used to uncover hidden narratives and amplify marginalized voices.

Dates covered