Bibliographic Addenda to Guides for the Study of Barbados History, 1971 & 1991

2006, 2007 (Jerome S. Handler) “Bibliographic Addenda to Guides for the Study of Barbados History, 1971 & 1991: Installment One, Installment Two.” JBMHS 52: 35-53 and 53: 199-211.

Published and some manuscript materials that have come to my attention since the publication of “A Guide to Source Materials for the Study of Barbados History, 1627-1834” ( Southern Illinois University Press, 1971; reprinted Oak Knoll Press, 2002), and “Supplement to A Guide to Source Materials for the Study of Barbados History, 1627-1834” (The John Carter Brown Library, 1991).

Installment One: Bibliographic Addenda to Guides for the Study of Barbados History, 1971 & 1991

Installment Two: Bibliographic Addenda to Guides for the Study of Barbados History, 1971 & 1991

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From Cambay in India to Barbados in the Caribbean: Two Unique Beads from a Plantation Slave Cemetery

2007 (Jerome S. Handler) “From Cambay in India to Barbados in the Caribbean: Two Unique Beads from a Plantation Slave Cemetery.” African Diaspora Archaeology Newsletter. March.

In the early 1970s, archaeological investigations at Newton plantation in Barbados recovered the skeletal remains of 104 individuals, interred from approximately 1660 to around 1820. Twelve of the burials were associated with close to 900 beads. These beads represented a variety of types, including two distinctive large reddish-orange carnelian beads. Despite the excavation of additional burials at Newton in the late 1990s which also recovered some beads associated with several burials, and considerable archaeological work since the early 1970s in African diasporic sites in the Caribbean and North America (including the massive “African Burial Ground” in New York City, as far as I can ascertain the two Newton specimens are still the only examples of their kind from New World sites. They remain unusual and unique material legacies of the transatlantic slave trade to Britain’s American colonies.

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Retouching History: The Modern Falsification of a Civil War Photograph

2007 (J. S. Handler and M. L. Tuite) “Retouching History: The Modern Falsification of a Civil War Photograph (2007).”

This website discusses a Civil War-era posed studio photograph of unidentified black Union soldiers with a white officer. This photograph was the basis for a well-known poster used by the Federal army to recruit black soldiers in the Philadelphia area. The studio photograph has been deliberately falsified in recent years by an unknown person/s sympathetic to the Confederacy. This falsified or fabricated photo, purporting to be of the 1st Louisiana Native Guards (Confederate), has been taken to promote Neo-Confederate views, to accuse Union propagandists of duplicity, and to show that black soldiers were involved in the armed defense of the Confederacy. Here we provide background to the original Civil War-era photograph and discuss why we believe its modern copy is a falsification; we also detail our conjectures as to how this falsification was accomplished.

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Identifying pictorial images of Atlantic slavery: Three case studies

2006 (J. S. Handler and A. Steiner) “Identifying pictorial images of Atlantic slavery: Three case studies.” Slavery & Abolition 27: 49-69.

During the last several decades, the number of publications on New World slavery and the Atlantic slave trade has increased tremendously. Sometimes these works are lavishly illustrated, but the illustrations are usually not taken directly from primary sources; rather, they are purchased from commercial photo libraries or are taken from secondary works which themselves have depended on commercial houses. Authors, especially of books or encyclopedias destined for a commercial market and wide general readership, pay insufficient attention (or no attention) to the historical and bibliographic contexts of the illustrations they use, and commercial photo libraries that sell images of slavery and the slave trade rarely give bibliographic information on their images; if they do, the information is often inadequate and misleading at best and inaccurate at worst. This article illustrates these points by focusing on three images that are often reproduced and argues that historical researchers should pay as much attention to the illustrations, and the context in which they were created, that accompany their publications as they do to citing the written sources upon which their research depends.

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On Interpreting Slave Status from Archaeological Remains

2006 (J. S. Handler and F. W. Lange) “On Interpreting Slave Status from Archaeological Remains.” African Diaspora Archaeology Newsletter. June.

An early colonial period church cemetery in Campeche, Mexico yielded the skeletal remains of persons who investigators identified as African born; some reports claimed these remains represent the earliest evidence of African slavery yet found in the New World. However, physical evidence in and of itself does not unequivocally demonstrate the social status of the people concerned. Persons of African descent in Campeche at this period could have been free or held other social statuses that were not chattel slaves. Whatever the case, the Campeche remains raise the issue of archaeological interpretations of social systems, in this case the social system of chattel slavery. In this article we reproduce excerpts from the final chapter of our 1978 book on plantation slavery in Barbados; we argue that archaeological remains alone cannot determine the presence of slavery and documentary data are needed to establish its existence.

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Diseases and Medical Disabilities of Enslaved Barbadians, From the Seventeenth Century to around 1838

2006 (Jerome Handler) “Diseases and Medical Disabilities of Enslaved Barbadians, From the Seventeenth Century to around 1838, Part I, Part II.Journal of Caribbean History 40: 1-38 and 40: 177-214.

The disease environment, health problems, and causes of mortality of enslaved Barbadians are described. Data largely derive from documentary sources; also included are bio-archaeological data from analyses of skeletons recovered from Newton Plantation cemetery. Major topics include infectious diseases transmitted from person to person, as well as those contracted through water, soil, and other environmental contaminations, and diseases transmitted by insects, parasites, and other animals; nutritional diseases, including protein energy malnutrition, vitamin deficiencies, anemia, and geophagy or ‘dirt eating’; dental pathologies; and lead poisoning, alcoholism, traumas, and other disorders, including psychogenic death or illness caused by beliefs in witchcraft or sorcery.

Part I: Diseases and Medical Disabilities of Enslaved Barbadians

Part II: Diseases and Medical Disabilities of Enslaved Barbadians

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Jonathan Corncob Visits Barbados: Excerpts from a Little-Known 18th Century Novel

2006 (F. Brady and J. Handler) “Jonathan Corncob Visits Barbados: Excerpts from a Little-Known 18th Century Novel.”  JBMHS 52: 17-34.

Published in 1787, this obscure satirical novel written by an author who to this day remains anonymous treats the adventures of a young man from Massachusetts during the period of the American Revolution. During the course of his adventures, Corncob spends some time in Barbados, and the three brief chapters that depict this visit are reproduced here with historical notes by the editors.

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A Rare Eighteenth-Century Tract in Defense of Slavery in Barbados: The Thoughts of the Rev. John Duke, Curate of St. Michael

2005 (Jerome S. Handler) “A Rare Eighteenth-Century Tract in Defense of Slavery in Barbados: The Thoughts of the Rev. John Duke, Curate of St. Michael.”  JBMHS 51: 58-65.

In this article I summarize the contents and argument of this rare pamphlet (I know of only one existing copy) as a contribution to the historiography of slavery in the West Indies and to make known a resource that has hitherto escaped notice by scholars and bibliographers of early West Indian history and slavery.

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Obeah: Healing and Protection in West Indian Slave Life

2004 (K. M. Bilby and J. S. Handler) “Obeah: Healing and Protection in West Indian Slave Life.”  Journal of Caribbean History 38: 153-183.

Obeah encompasses a wide variety of beliefs and practices involving the control or channeling of supernatural spiritual forces, usually for socially beneficial ends such as treating illness, bringing good fortune, protecting against harm, and avenging wrongs.  Although obeah was sometimes used to ham others, Europeans during the slave period distorted its positive role in the lives of many enslaved persons. In post-emancipation times, colonial officials, local white elites and their ideological allies exaggerated the antisocial dimensions of obeah, minimizing or ignoring its positive functions. This negative interpretation became so deeply ingrained that many West Indians accept it to varying degrees today, although the positive attributes of obeah are still acknowledged in most parts of the anglophone Caribbean.

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Plantation Slave Settlements in Barbados, 1650s to 1834

2002 (Jerome Handler) “Plantation Slave Settlements in Barbados, 1650s to 1834.” In A. Thompson, ed., In the Shadow of the Plantation: Caribbean History and Legacy (Ian Randle publisher, Kingston, Jamaica),  pp. 121-158.

This paper describes the antecedents of many rural settlements in Barbados; it focuses on some of the major physical and demographic features of slave settlements, particularly on medium- and large size plantations. Changes in some of these features are traced over the almost 200 years of plantation slavery on the island, and the possible influences of Africa or England on village layout and spatial arrangement of houses are considered. Some of the methodological and historical issues in establishing the number of plantation settlements during the slave period and of identifying the sites of former villages and plantation cemeteries in present-day Barbados are also explored. Finally, some of the sociological characteristics of the slave settlements as small communities are considered.

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