Caribbean Sea Migration Collection
Caribbean migration by sea is a trademark of the region's human mobility often shaped by the political and social conditions of the home countries. Many push and pull factors influence people's decisions to venture in dangerous sea crossings to the US as has been portrayed in the media. Overflowing pateras, makeshift boats, and human smuggling are some of the examples that have recently come to light, however, due to nature of these voyages and the loss of life at sea most of these events are untraceable and unaccounted for. The Caribbean Sea Collection recovers the documented history of these migrants. The collection is hosted by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke University and gathers "materials related to Cuban, Dominican and Haitian maritime migration from 1965-1996, including camps at the U.S. Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, 1991-1996."
The resources found in this archive offer a close look at migration trends, practices, and life experiences related to official and unofficial responses to the humanitarian crisis product of Caribbean migration by sea into the US. The sources in the collection can support classroom topics that address migrant and refugee issues, particularly via personal experiences revealed through drawings and oral histories. Of particular interest is the "El Bravo" newspaper created by Cuban rafters at the Guantanamo Bravo Refugee Camp while they waited for the US immigration services to resolve their migratory status. The paper was written and illustrated by hand and copied for distribution. Even though that "El Bravo" features articles predominantly in Spanish, the newspaper's illustrations are valuable sources in the analysis and interpretation of the social and cultural circumstances experienced by the refugees.
The collection includes over 830 subsections comprised of photographs, newspapers, correspondence, official records, and oral histories. The platform's search tools include key word searches and refining options including date, format, subject, and language (Spanish, English and Haitian Creole). It is important to note that the site includes a disclaimer due to the potentially harmful language and sensitive subject matter contained in the collection, it is recommended that the resources be used by setting them in the appropriate historical and social context.