The Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC) in cooperation with Florida International University Libraries and University of Florida Libraries invite you to explore “Haiti: An Island Luminous,” a free-access website where readers can learn about Haiti. Developed by historian Adam M. Silvia with generous support from the Green Family Foundation, “An Island Luminous” pairs rare books, manuscripts, newspapers, and photos digitized by libraries and archives in Haiti and the United States with commentary by more than 100 experts at 75 universities around the world.
“History is a vast assembly line,” says Silvia. “When we pick up a history textbook, it’s easy to overlook the many archives, historians, universities, publishers, etc., that work tirelessly to turn sources like photos and letters, some very old, into resources that everyone can easily consume.” The vision behind “An Island Luminous” was “not only to build that public resource but also to employ technology in a way that would make the historical assembly line more transparent.” When you visit the website, Silvia explains, “you can look at the sources that archives chose to scan, you can observe how historians, past and present, interpreted those sources, and you can see how those perspectives were woven into one seamless narrative.” It’s a “multidimensional history,” Silvia says.
As such, “An Island Luminous” has “the potential to challenge and expand global views of Haiti,” says Dr. Nadève Ménard, who teaches at the Université de l’Etat in Port-au-Prince. “The ways in which ‘An Island Luminous’ calls upon modern technologies to facilitate access to documents that are decades, centuries or only days old, the ways in which it brings together scholars from across the world in a unique platform, the ways in which it speaks to the general public and scholars alike–all of this makes ‘An Island Luminous’ an exciting project.
“‘An Island Luminous’ is a timely contribution to Haitian studies,” says acclaimed author Edwidge Danticat. “For those who are interested in Haiti, scholars and non-scholars alike, not only does ‘An Island Luminous’ provide them with a concise yet comprehensive introduction to Haiti’s history, it also shows how unity and cooperation can produce extraordinary new resources.”
“An Island Luminous” contextualizes hundreds of historical books, documents and photos digitally preserved by the Digital Library of the Caribbean’s partners who include the National Archives of Haiti, the National Library of Haiti, Haitian Library of the Fathers of the Holy Spirit (Pères du St-Esprit), Haitian Library of the Brothers of Christian Instruction (Frères de l’Instruction Chrètienne), University of Florida, Brown University, and University of Central Florida. dLOC currently hosts 15,000 titles with more than two million pages of content, much of which is related to Haiti. dLOC is administered by the Florida International University Libraries and the University of Florida Libraries in consortium with partner and member libraries and other institutions.
With the continued support of the Green Family Foundation and the active dLOC community, “An Island Luminous” will soon be translated into French and Haitian Creole so that it can serve as a teaching resource in Haiti as well as in the United States.
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