Caribbean History Collections

Find out more about Caribbean history in the IHR Wohl library. We collect primary source material that includes travel accounts and reports from colonial officials in the nineteenth century. 


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).

Highlights from the Collections

Bibliographies and Archive Guides

Unlike the bulk of the collection, guides to Caribbean archive material and bibliographies of Caribbean history are currently kept in closed access in the Colonial Bibliography collection (shelf-mark CB) and, when a work covers Latin America as well, the Latin American bibliography collection. Details about requesting items from our closed access collections can be found here.

Below are some of the items you can find in this sub-collection.



Our collection on Cuban history (shelf-mark CLAC.2) covers the period from the Spanish conquest to the Communist Revolution although much of the collection at present comprises of works on the nineteenth century.

Other Caribbean Islands

The Caribbean history collection also contains sections devoted to the history of the Bahamas, Barbados, the Cayman Islands, the Leeward Antilles, the Leeward Islands, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos and the Windward Islands.

Below are a few examples of items from these sections.

The Bahamas



Trinidad & Tobago

Other Collections

Within the IHR

Source material can also be found in a number of other collections found in the Institute's library. Below is a selection of titles you can find elsewhere.

Early Exploration & Travel Accounts
Dutch Colonial History
International Relations
Military History

Other organisations

London has a number of libraries and archives with excellent holdings of Caribbean history material. These include:

Further Help

Contact us if you would like help on finding or using our collections, or if you have any comments or suggestions about the content of this guide. We are happy to help.

You can also book a tour or training session.