The West Indies in Records from colonial missionaries, 1704-1950

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West Indies material in the archives of the USPG, 1704-1950

West Indies material in the archives of the USPG, 1704-1950

in the West Indian islands the Society has been regarded as a reactionary force, owning slaves openly and in league with the planters. In fact, the SPG in the islands has received little attention and there is need for a further appraisal
Clare TayloUniversity College of Wales, Aberystwyth

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See missionaries in the West Indies face their role in slavery and introduce schools

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This missionary work contrasted with the same Society owning slaves in the West Indies. These reports cover both sides of the Society's legacy as it moved from owning slaves to educating the emancipated. As this archive was held by the United Society for the propagation of the Gospel, the 'Letters Sent' are those sent by their head office. The 'Letters Received' are those written by missionaries in the colonies. The plantation covered in 'The Codrington collection' was a charitable gift to the USPG in 1710. It was intended to be a school for educating slaves, but became a source of income and a school for white children. It would take more than a century before black children were educated there. The 'C series' includes letters 'sent' and those 'received', with a focus on Jamaica and Barbados.

Contents

The West Indies in Records from colonial missionaries, 1704-1950...

Containing 39,014 pages belonging to 107 documents housed in 7 volumes...

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Volumes

C series materials, 1714-1908

The USPG records to be found in the C series are unbound and mostly later in date than those in...

Copies of letters received

CLR. Twenty volumes covering the period 1835-1928.

Copies of letters sent

CLS. Ten volumes covering the period 1834-1931, the last volume being a composite one, including letters sent from London to...

The Codrington collection, 1704-1898

C/WI/COD. Codrington College has a history distinct from the work of the SPG proper, before and after diocesan control, and...

Insights

  • The C series papers cover a range of countries, from Bahamas to Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad. Issues of the day included the loyalty of missionaries in the Bahamas and emancipation.
  • The 'Papers of the Barbados Committee' include accusations of the poor treatment of slaves, and accounts of sugar produced by their plantations. Accounts in this group name some of the slaves and their roles.
  • Codrington College was believed the have been given to the Society to educate slaves. These papers reveal the story of that plantation after it was left to the Society.
  • The 'E Series' reports cover Nevis, Montserrat and Antigua during the early 20th century. Concerns include poverty, war and smallpox, as well as the authorities' resistance to educating black children.
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