After a series of conflicts between 1791 and 1804 in which enslaved Haitians, French colonists, the British and French military, and other parties fought one another, Saint Dominque's enslaved African descendants completed the most successful revolution in the western hemisphere. The country became the first independent Black nation in the Americas, reclaiming their name "Ayiti" in the process of liberating themselves from French colonial rule. The impact of this revolution shook the world and united a Black diaspora that scholars still discuss today. On January 1, 1804, the general in chief of the native army, and all of the generals denounced French rule and signed the Haitian Declaration of Independence. It was the first document implemented by the former colony of Saint Domingue to establish a free nation for everyone regardless of skin color. Haiti represented a symbol of liberation for all marginalized people in the western world and inspired revolutionary movements in the United States, Brazil, Cuba, and other countries. Since Haiti declared independence, Black people in the United States have seen this Black nation as a beacon of genuine self-determination, freedom, and equality, all of which were unavailable to them in the United States.
Prominent Black American intellectuals W.E.B Du Bois, Frederick Douglass, and others used Haiti to represent a proposed future image for liberated Black people. The enduring connection between Black people in the United States and Haiti led to the emigration of Black Americans to Haiti, where some became leaders in the Haitian government. The United States occupation of Haiti (1915-1935) led to years of tensions between the American government and Haitian citizens opposed to the occupation. Despite this well-documented instance of a continued United States presence in the Caribbean and Latin America, Haiti remained a sovereign nation even after the occupation—a testimony to the country's continued resilience in the face of colonial influences.
This guide is a comprehensive starting point for finding curated resources in the Library of Congress on the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804), Haitian Creole (Kreyòl Ayisyen), the United States occupation of Haiti, and Black internationalism, as well as links to external websites that center important narratives in Haitian history. It also includes contextual bibliographies on resources relevant to Haitian history by scholars like Marlene Daut, Grégory Pierrot, Laurent Dubois, Brandon R. Byrd, Jean Eddy Saint Paul, Leslie Alexander, Chelsea Stieber and many others.
In the following companion video, Librarian-in-Residence, Taylor Healey-Brooks, interviews five prominent Haiti scholars: Dr. Leslie Alexander, Dr. Jean Eddy Saint Paul, Dr. Grégory Pierrot, Dr. Brandon R. Byrd, and Dr. Chelsea Stieber. This video serves as a resource that connects the Library with an emerging audience discussing Haiti's history, the aftermath of the Haitian Revolution and, its representation in the media, including its positive impact on Black sovereignty in the Americas. (Event date: January 03, 2022)
The best way to find titles about the historical and cultural contributions of Haiti in the western hemisphere is to search the Library of Congress Online Catalog. The following search tips will help you find contemporary and historical resources about Haiti. Since different spellings of Haiti appear in documents, newspapers and other resources it is useful to search “Haiti”, “Hayti” and “Ayiti.” Search terms like “Saint Domingue or St. Domingo” will yield results for the colonial period. The organizational structure that you see in some of these lists is indicative of the prejudice we are trying to address with this guide. You might also browse titles under the links to the LCSH (Library of Congress Subject Headings) below.