The Project to Preserve and Make Available the Jeremie Collections.

This Project seeks to preserve and make available the notarial records for the district of Grande Anse, Haiti whose capital was the City of Jeremie. The records are spread between three repositories, the University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida; the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library, New York, New York; and the Archives d'Outre-Mer at Aix en Provence, France. Estimated time period for the records begins in the middle 1700’s and ends at the turn of the century, approximately, 1803. Number of items is unknown. Linear footage will exceed 28 feet.

In summer, 1999, Carla Summers became interested in these vital records which document the town of Jeremie for the years before Haitian independence. These records contain documentation of events that, under French Law, required notarization and registration including contracts of marriage, wills, ecclesiastical records, actions of local councils, etc. Three different repositories hold the complete set of these records. These records are in such bad condition that use has been closed at the University of Florida. Instead, patrons must rely on an incomplete list of very brief annotations of the items contained in the collection. The rich and varied history that these records document is inaccessible and in danger.

The goals of this project are:

  1. Contact and obtain agreements for cooperation between repositories.
  2. Inventory and compile information on extent of preservation and access needs.
  3. Develop and implement plans for preservation, description and enhancement of use.
  4. Disseminate information concerning the holdings to interested parties.

The objectives and activities contained in these broad goals are almost overwhelming considering the extent of the materials, their decentralization, and their condition. However, the reward of bringing these vital materials into wider use and preserving them for the long term is the motivating factor.

The University of Florida has hired a temporary staff member who is fluent in French to begin the annotation of 650 documents that were acquired after the first receipt of the Jeremie Papers. These documents are unlisted and must be described and merged with the current finding aid before we can go forward with microfilming the collection. The current finding aid is also very rudimentary. A standard format for the translation and abstracting of items is being developed.

We are seeking funding as seed money to begin this project. In this first stage we will be looking to develop commitments from the institutions involved and determining the extent and condition of collections. Meetings will be arranged between curators at the institutions as well as administrative heads to negotiate participation. The collections will be inventoried according to approved archival standards. Translation will continue at the University of Florida to develop cost facts for creating descriptions of individual items.

The University of Florida holds extensive documentation of the French Caribbean including the Rochambeau Papers.

The seed money will enable the project team to develop grant requests to submit to funding agencies internationally. Without the figures and the commitments developed in this first phase, funds for further description and preservation will not be forthcoming. No individual institution can undertake such a beginning on operational funds. Interested parties must fund this work.

It is the understanding that the vital records of a society are the most valuable documentation available. No one questions the preservation of the birth, marriage and death records of a country’s or local government’s people. We should act to save these priceless documents now. Besides their considerable interest to the study of world history (this was a time of great upheaval for governments around the world), these records support the understanding of the contributions of families and individuals of Haiti. Haiti is a nation that seeks to know itself no matter what the cost. Development of a sense of oneself as a people leads to greater cultural and economic progress.


  1. Jeremie Materials In Florida. Enclosed is the finding aid for the Jeremie Collection at the University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida purchased from Kurt Fisher. Carla M. Summers is the Curator in charge of this collection.
  2. Jeremie Materials in New York City. Enclosed is a summary of the Kurt Fisher Haitian Collection held at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library, New York, New York. Anre Elizee at the Center is the Curator in charge of this collection.

Brief Summary

By Carla M. Summers, University of Florida

March, 2000



Schomburg Collection

The Saint-Domingue Special Interest Group

The John Garrigus Project

Revue de la Société Haïtienne d'Histoire et de Géographie

Latin American Microform Project

A Guide to the Jérémie Papers