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Saving Haiti's past.

Thousands of historical documents are believed to be trapped inside two libraries in downtown Port-au-Prince, buried in rubble caused by the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti January 12, 2010.


UNESCO, the United Nations' cultural agency, has launched a campaign to protect Haiti's heritage. It has called for a ban on the "trade or transfer of Haitian cultural property" to prevent looting from art galleries, museums, and historical sites, according to media reports.

Haiti's La Bibliotheque Haitienne des Peres du Saint-Esprit housed a collection of letters, manuscripts, newspapers, and books spanning the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, according to The National Post.

Included in the archives are one-of-a-kind documents from the 13-year Haitian revolution from 1791 to 1804, which resulted in Haiti becoming the first independent Western nation ruled by people of African descent and the first to abolish slavery.

Another downtown library, at the seminary Les Freres de l'Instruction Chretienne, contains letters penned by revolutionary leaders Toussaint Louverture and Jean-Jacques Dessalines, books from French missionaries, and documents by statesmen and ex-presidents who still influence Haitian politics, according to historians.

While many documents about Haiti's colonial history are kept in other countries, such as France, most from the revolution remain in Haiti, said David Geggus, a professor in colonial Haitian history at the University of Florida.

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Title Annotation:ARCHIVES
Publication:Information Management Journal
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2010
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