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AfriGeneas Caribbean Research Forum

Re: [CUBA] Slavery under Spanish Law

Hi BJ:

Most of my focus has been in the area around Mantazas. However, I looked through my files on Cuba and found some websites, which may be of help to you.

Your grandmother was born in a part of Cuba that produced the mixed race (read mulatto) dictator Fulgencio Batista Zaldívar and the man who would later overthrow him, Fidel Castro. Since Batista was a contemporary of your grandmother and was born in Banes, documents or references to his early life may reveal some connections to your family. His bio often mentions his parents worked on a sugar plantation in Banes.

It’s interesting to note that in 1905, Oriente Province was changed from Santiago de Cuba. So perhaps using Santiago may help in your search. Below are 2 web pages that describe these name changes.

The main/last link below will take you to a Gutenberg site and the book/article entitled: “Cuba Old and New”, written in1915.

Its pages describe Cuba’s Provinces and mentions Banes and Banes Bay. Other articles on Cuba offer some of the same information that the sugar plantations were in the area and certainly the large sugar mills. Ore deposits, and I believe copper were also mined there. The quote below is from Cuba Old and New:

”…first Cuban harbor entered by Columbus. Nipe Bay and its near neighbor, Banes Bay, are the centres of what is now the greatest industrial activity of any part of the island. Here, recent American investment is measured in scores of millions of dollars. Here, in the immediate neighborhood, are some of the largest sugar plantations and mills on the island, the Boston and the Preston.”

Let me pause and say that your research on Alabama is sterling. I mentioned this because of the strong and historical connection between Cuba and Tuskegee.

The University of Illinois Press offers the Booker T Washington Papers on line. (Free) Its excellent search engine will uncover names of students from Cuba, teachers and description of Cuba. (I discovered this while researching Florida A & M’s extension program with Tuskegee.)

The following are from reputable sites that may help you in your search:

The University of Florida’s digital Cuban Heritage Collection is a worthwhile reference source. Granted that some of the links are politically linked to the Cuban exiles in Miami, it still reveals a history of Cuba in photos, manuscripts and letters.

You may have visited the page below before. I found it through Canada’s “The Harriet Tubman Resource Centre on the African Diaspora.” I really enjoy York University’s Tubman Resource Centre because its archives, links etc are presented through a more global viewpoint.

The African Diaspora: Latin American Resources is from the University of Texas.

Also linked to Canada’s Tubman Center are the searchable archives from The Colombian Archival Digitalization Project.” I remember our discussion on your ancestor’s Colombian ancestry so I am including the link below. Read the introduction and then click on the link at the bottom of the page. The archives are mostly in Spanish. However click on the left top for instructions in English.

BJ, are just some of the links in my files. They are mostly historical backgrounders, except for the links from the University of Texas. But as you know so well, one historical fact may uncover a new avenue of research.

The best book on Cuban slavery that I’ve read is Midlo Hall’s book, “Social Control of Slave Plantation Societies: A Comparison of St. Domingue and Cuba.” LSU Press.

I have more suggestions and will add them as I find them. One important resource will be the digitized “Cuban National Archives”, a collaboration with the University of Florida. It will include its Notary archives.

K Wyer Lane

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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