Negro burying ground in Basseterre 1782

One of the questions we are often asked is “where were the enslaved buried?” For those who lived and worked on the estates the answer is usually on the estate itself. But there were a significant number who worked in private homes in towns and villages as servants, porters, and even skilled workers whose services were available for rent by anybody willing to pay the enslaver for the privilege. There were also those who were […]

St Johnston Village housing

Our item for today is a blue print of a labourer’s hut designed in 1929. This was to be the beginning of what came to be called St. Johnston Village after the Administrator (later Governor) who had started the project. Compared to today’s house plans, it almost looks like the project was going to be about the building of doll’s houses. However this was actually a major improvement on the working class housing then available. […]

Register of Midwives 1920

At the beginning of the 20th century, rudimentary health practices were having a serious effect on the survival of new born babies. St. Kitts actually had one of the highest infant mortality rates in the Caribbean, possible the world. In 1913 the Health report had to concede that this was “generally admitted to be one of the more serious blots on our records.” Nanas delivered babies at home. These women would have learnt their skill […]

Edward Gillard’s petition 1743

Our document today is a petition by Edward Gillard to Sir Thomas Shirley, Governor of the Leeward Islands. It is accompanied by a plan, first drawn in 1743, for the lot of land mentioned in the petition. Sir Thomas Shirley was first appointed governor of the Leeward Islands in 1781. In January 1782, when a French Fleet invaded St. Kitts and later Nevis, he realized how badly outnumbered he was and he withdrew the troops […]

Cassava mill

Last month during our Exploring Kittitian History course at the Open Campus, we mentioned cassava. While searching for images for another project, I came across this postcard of a cassava mill. This starchy root crop was a staple in the diet of the Kalinago but it also became an important element in the diet of the enslaved people. Christopher Jeafferson who came to St. Kitts to claim ownership of his father’s plantation at Wingfield in […]