Special Collections recently acquired an eighteenth-century “view book” of six hand-colored cards showing a scene on a Caribbean plantation. The item is meant to be viewed with each card set slightly apart from the others, creating a three-dimensional effect. In the foreground of the scene are three couples lounging and chatting together. Moving into the scene, we see slaves cutting sugar cane under the watchful eye of an overseer. Beyond that are the slave quarters, a sugar mill, and the plantation house.
These cards are an interesting addition to the library’s holdings of materials on slavery, sugar, and Caribbean history. A related recent acquisition is Buonaparte in the West Indies, or, The History of Toussaint Louverture, the African Hero (1803). Attributed to the abolitionist James Stephen, the work is an account of the rule in Haiti of former slave Toussaint L’Ouverture, his resistance to Napoleon Bonaparte’s attempt to reinstate slavery on the island, and his treacherous arrest and murder in a French dungeon in April 1803.