The Barbados Archives Department is organizing a workshop to launch the digitization of “The Mercury Gazette,” a project funded by a British Library Endangered Archives Programme grant, as I wrote in another post.
You can see here the invitation and schedule of this workshop. We will be adding further material, as they become available. This is the first in a series of events during December 2017 and January 2018 dedicated to launching the project, promoting the gazette as a primary source, and enhancing local knowledge and capacity building.
The aim of this first workshop is to provide scholars of literature and history at the University of West Indies Cave Hill Campus, as well as other librarians and archivists from various institutions on the island, the opportunity to contribute their knowledge and expertise to the process of constructing a finding aid for “The Barbados Mercury Gazette.”
While the digitized files of the gazette will have appropriate metadata, both at the British Library and the Digital Library of the Caribbean websites, we believe that archival description in the form of a finding aid will help unravel the subtleties, silences, and secrets of a primary source that reflects life in this British colony during the decades leading up to the 1816 slave revolt. In view of international research into unearthing slave lives, we are eager to explore the gazette’s potential as an untapped resource of information on the enslaved. This is why this workshop aims to bring together scholars and practitioners and produce a finding aid based on their collective wisdom.
We hope to go beyond the apparent and explore the following questions:
- Who is the “creator” of the gazette? Who is involved in its production and dissemination?
- Which audience and what goals did the gazette serve?
- What does the physicality of the gazette reveals? (paper, typeset, script, layout)
- Who writes and who reads? Who speaks, on behalf of whom?
- What genres of writing can be found in the gazette?
- What is the place of the gazette in the network of other colonial papers?
- How does the gazette reflect colonial attitudes?
- In which ways does it shed light to the history of the island leading to 1816?
- How can we mine it for further information on the enslaved and networks of resistance?
The workshop will be a brainstorming session. After the workshop, we hope to publish notes in a google doc that people will be able to comment upon. The following week, we will have another workshop to construct the actual finding aid. We will post updates as they become available.