UF Professor David Geggus, a scholar of Caribbean history and slavery, was awarded a fellowship at the John Carter Brown Library (JCBL) during the spring of 2012. The JCBL is an independent foundation that promotes research in history and other humanities fields. Established in 1901 at Brown University, the JCBL has a substantial collection of sources concerning North and South America prior to 1825 that has continued to aid scholars in their studies. As one of the many scholars who come from around the world to access the library's materials, Geggus is spending his fellowship period working on a research project titled "The Haitian Revolution of 1789-1804." In this ongoing project, Geggus is examining the issues of race and slavery in the Caribbean and Haiti’s struggle for independence, which was achieved in 1804. Geggus has a long-standing interest in the French Revolution and the ways in which this revolution impacted France’s colonies, which included one of the largest and most productive slave societies in the Americas.
As a resident scholar at the JCBL from January through June 2012, Prof. Geggus is also continuing research on several long-term projects while there. One is a major study of the 1791 slave uprising, which was the only one in world history to succeed. He is also continuing to work on a biographical dictionary of the revolution and compiling a collection of historical documents for teaching purposes. A French publisher has also commissioned him to produce an edition of a JCBL rare manuscript, which is the journal of an anonymous participant in the revolution. He looks to these types of materials to understand how different individuals perceived and experienced the struggle for independence in Haiti. This is Geggus’ eighth research fellowship at the JCBL. Besides having access to the important primary and secondary resources at the JCBL, colleagues in residence benefit from their stay at Brown University by having opportunity to discuss their work with fellow specialistsin regular formal and informal meetings.
In his research on the Haitian revolution, Prof. Geggus aims to produce a more accurate history of Haiti that goes beyond the hostile and celebratory accounts that have prevailed since colonial times. With regard to the nature of primary research, Geggus believes that "historians rarely intend their work to provide practical lessons; it tends to be non-historians who look to history for policy solutions." Although Geggus admits that this type of research is consumed by few, he hopes that his findings will help people understand the journey Haiti took from its time as a French colony to today. Geggus's work offers access to primary sources to other specialists in his field, as well as information that has been used by researchers in other branches of the humanities and sciences. With all these projects at hand, he plans to take full advantage of his time at JCBL.
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