Traces of Slavery: A Database of the African Ethnic Groups Mapped in Cuba

Co-directors María del Carmen Barcia (University of Havana) and Marial Iglesias Utset

The Cuban archives, especially the National Archives of Cuba and the Provincial Archives, hold remarkable information about slavery, and are probably the largest and richest collection in all of Spanish America. The country's archives are rich in all kinds of information about the African populations living in the island, beginning in the early 16th century to the end of the 19th century, including a wealth of information on the ethnicity of the slaves, their occupations, ways of living, forms of resistance to slavery, or routes to the emancipation. Not only are the materials scattered over different archives, but also the Cuban collections are underutilized due to the difficulty of gaining access to them, the lack of digitization of the materials and catalogs, and, sometimes, the deteriorated conditions of the documents. This project, directed by Professor María del Carmen Barcia of the University of Havana and Dr. Marial Iglesias Utset, a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University, and located in the Fundación Fernando Ortiz, aims to create a searchable database to facilitate the description and quantification of the information about the identities and ethnic backgrounds of Cuban slaves. When complete, it will be the largest compendium of individual slave information ever assembled in Cuba.

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