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HIST 143 - Haitian Revolution: Primary Sources

What Are Primary Sources

"Primary sources are original records created at the time historical events occurred or well after events in the form of memoirs and oral histories. Primary sources may include letters, manuscripts, diaries, journals, newspapers, speeches, interviews, memoirs, documents produced by government agencies such as Congress or the Office of the President, photographs, audio recordings, moving pictures or video recordings, research data, and objects or artifacts such as works of art or ancient roads, buildings, tools, and weapons. These sources serve as the raw material to interpret the past, and when they are used along with previous interpretations by historians, they provide the resources necessary for historical research."
(American Library Association, Reference and User Services, History Section)

Featured Titles

The Haitian Revolution:  A Documentary History:   Thi wonderful collection  "draws on a variety of exewitness accounts, letters, and governmental documents to examine the causes of the Haitian Revolution and the impact it had on the eighteenth-century Atlantic World."


Haiti: An Island Luminous is a site to help readers learn about Haiti’s history. Created by historian Adam M. Silvia and hosted online by Digital Library of the Caribbean, it combines rare books, manuscripts, and photos scanned by archives and libraries in Haiti and the United States with commentary by over one hundred (100) authors from universities around the world.

Click on the image to access the site.  Then click on "Learn" to get started.


Primary Sources from SCU Collections

Using Oscar to Find Primary Sources:

You can also use the library online catalog, OSCAR, to find collections of published primary sources or books including primary documents.

Just enter your keywords and add one of the following words, depending on what you are looking for:  correspondence, papers, speeches, memoirs, personal narratives, documents, sources. 

  • For example:
    • Haiti and revolution and (sources or documents or letters)

Here's a sample of what you would find in OSCAR:



Find articles in the U.S. Press about the Haitian revolution

To locate articles in American newspapers and magazines on the Haitian revolution from 1794 to 1804, use the following database:

  • APS Online (American Periodical Series
    This database includes a collection of full-text periodicals and primary source materials related to the American experience from the colonial days to 1900.   When you enter your keywords, just make sure to search for "St. Domingo" (not for Haiti) and to limit your search for the years 1789 to 1804.


Primary Sources on the Web

Primary Sources on the Web

Many primary sources have been digitized and made available on the web.  The following sites are good starting points to find documents and other sources related to  the Haitian Revolution. I have tried to include mostly sites with English translations.  There are of course many others with documents in French only. 

  • Remember Haiti - John Carter Brown Library
    "Site showcasing a selection of books from the John Carter Brown Library that are available online through the Internet Archive. Created with the support of partners from around the world, the intent of this library is to provide access to the remarkable history of Haiti."
  • Haiti and the Atlantic World
    " This website seeks to encourage the discussion about Haiti's founding documents and their influences on the broader Atlantic. 
  • The Louverture Project 
    An open-content resource that includes encyclopedic entries, timelines, images, maps, and primary source documents.