For almost a century the Institute's library has been collecting published primary source material that documents the overseas expansion of many west European nations. While this has resulted in large research collections devoted to the history of mainland North and South America, the library also possesses a growing collection of works on the history of the Caribbean region spanning the period from the sixteenth century to the first half of the twentieth. Particular strengths at present include the British and Spanish colonial presence in the Caribbean, travel accounts, as well as the history of nineteenth and early twentieth century Cuba.
The collection can be found on the open shelves in the library's North American reading room on the second floor. Currently much of the collection comprises of published primary source material about the history of the Greater Antilles, especially Cuba, Jamaica and Puerto Rico. However there are also holdings on other islands such as Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago, as well as Bermuda.
The collection is part of the library's large colonial history collection. Below is a summary showing a break down of the shelf marks currently in use:
- CLAC.1 General Works (including reference works)
- CLAC.2 Cuba
- CLAC.3 Dominican Republic & Haiti
- CLAC.31 Hispaniola to c. 1697
- CLAC.32 Santo Domingo/Dominican Republic
- CLAC.33 Haiti
- CLAC.4 Jamaica
- CLAC.5 Puerto Rico
- CLAC.6 Other Caribbean Islands
- CLAC.7 Bermuda
Bibliographies, archives guides and works on historiography can be found in the Colonial Bibliography Collection (shelf-mark CB). Relevant journal titles can be found in the Colonial Periodical Collection (shelf-mark CP).