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Subject guide

Caribbean Studies

Overview of databases, reference works and websites for research in Caribbean Studies

Since 2014 Leiden University Libraries (UBL) manages the collections of the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV) and the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT). By merging the three collections of UBL, KITLV and KIT, Leiden University Libraries now holds the largest collection of Caribbean materials in the Netherlands and the largest collection in the world in the area of Suriname and the islands of the (former) Netherlands Antilles.

The collection spans the 17th century through to the present day covering the Dutch-, English-, French- and Spanish-speaking Caribbean.

Collection development is closely aligned with KITLV research, and teaching and research in Latin American Studies and History at Leiden University. See also the Subject Guides Latin American Studies and History.

The Caribbean Studies collection is located in the University Library. Most of the collection in the University Library is housed in closed stacks. Items can be requested through the Catalogue.

Reference materials and current issues of printed journals are located in the reading room on the first floor of the University Library.

The current issues of newspapers and non-academic journals are located in the Informatiecentrum Huygens on the ground floor of  the University Library.

Reference material from the former Caribbean Reading Room of the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV) has been merged with various reference collections on the first floor of the University Library and has been classified according to the Library of Congress Classification (LCC). The table below provides an overview of where these materials have been placed. Items cannot be borrowed, however it is allowed to make photocopies and scans inside the building.



Reading Room University Library

Former Classification KITVL



1st floor, entrance 8


Reference works Latin America general, Caribbean general and individual countries (history)


1st floor, entrance 4


Reference works linguistics (dictionaries, grammars)


1st floor, entrance 7


Reference works Literature & Literary Studies


1st floor, entrance 8


Academic journals (current issues)




Non- academic journals (current issues)

Huygens Informatiecentrum

Ground floor, LOUNGE


Newspapers (last 4 weeks)

Huygens Informatiecentrum

Ground floor, LOUNGE


Non-current issues journals and newspapers (older than 4 weeks)


University Library, closed stacks





The Catalogue is a search and discovery tool that provides results from the library's online and print collections in a single search. It includes titles of printed books, journals, manuscripts, letters, and other material available at the libraries of Leiden University as well as links to the full-text of millions of, mainly, English journal articles and digital images of prints and manuscripts.

Hispanic American Periodicals Index (HAPI) Online: provides complete bibliographic citations to the contents of scholarly journals published around the world on Latin America and the Caribbean since the late 1960s. Search in English, Spanish, or Portuguese.

Handbook of Latin American Studies (HLAS) Online: a bibliography on Latin America consisting of works selected and annotated by scholars. Each year, more than 130 academics from around the world choose over 5,000 works for inclusion in the Handbook. Continuously published since 1936, the HLAS offers Latin Americanists an essential guide to available resources. Search in English, Spanish, or Portuguese.

CLACSO - Consejo Latinoamericano de Ciencas Sociales: the CLACSO digital repository offers free access to the output of the 313 member centres of CLACSO, which cover 21 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. Currently there are over 30,000 full-text items – articles, working papers, books, and conference proceedings – published by the CLACSO network.

Web of Science: a collection of databases that index the world’s leading scholarly literature in the sciences, social sciences, arts, and humanities, as published in journals, conference proceedings, symposia, seminars, colloquia, workshops, and conventions across the globe.

Critical Bibliography of English, French and Spanish Caribbean Literatures (1954-2004): this bibliography aims to offer a detailed and yet practical overview of the three main Caribbean literatures. It not only contains international publications (monographs, articles in journals and collections, and publications available in other formats such as doctoral dissertations), but also local publications, which function as barometers of literary topicality. The chosen period (1954-2004) coincides with the development and diversification of the research.

Bibliothèque Numérique Caraïbe, Amazonie, Plateau des Guyanes (MANIOC): a digital library developed by the University of Antilles-Guayana, specializing on the Caribbean, the Amazon, the Guyana Plateau and regions or areas of interest related to these territories. The collection contains digitized texts, documents, audio, video and iconographic references to cultural, social, economic or political historical events.

Caribbean Books (Leiden University Libraries): in 2015-2016 Leiden University digitized her Dutch Caribbean Collections, consisting of her own library collections, and those of the Royal Institute for Southeast-Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV) and the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT). The collection of Caribbean Books consists of ca. 950 books published until 1954, dealing with, or printed in Central America and the Caribbean in general and the Netherlands Antilles in particular.

Caribbean Maps (Leiden University Libraries): this collection consists of ca. 300 printed and hand-drawn maps (some of them in more sheets) and some atlases from the sixteenth to twentieth century of Central America and the Caribbean in general and the Netherlands Antilles in particular, from the Collection Bodel Nijenhuis and the collections of the Royal Institute for Southeast-Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV) and the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT).

Caribbean Histories revealed: an exhibition based on Colonial Office documents held at The National Archives, home to records belonging to the British Government. The documents used in this exhibition are correspondence from administrators of local governments in the British West Indies, and date from 1692-1921.

Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC)
dLOC is a cooperative digital library for resources from and about the Caribbean and circum-Caribbean. dLOC provides access to digitized versions of Caribbean cultural, historical and research materials currently held in archives, libraries, and private collections.

Dutch Caribbean Digital Platform (DCDP): an initiative of the University of Curaçao, in cooperation with dLoc, to develop a sustainable knowledge portal for students, teachers, researchers and the wider community.

Slavery, Abolition & Social Justice: contains primary source documents from archives and libraries across the Atlantic world, and additional secondary sources for research and teaching; including an interactive map, scholarly essays, tutorials, a visual sources gallery, chronology and bibliography.

Slavery & Anti-Slavery : a Transnational Archive: includes collections on the transatlantic slave trade, the global movement for the abolition of slavery, the legal, personal, and economic aspects of the slavery system, and the dynamics of emancipation in the U.S. as well as in Latin America, the Caribbean, and other regions.

Slavenregisters: index in which the data is included from the slave registers of Suriname and Curaçao. The original books are in the Nationaal Archief Suriname in Paramaribo (NAS Access 16, Inventory numbers 1-43) and the Nationaal Archief of Curaçao.

Trans Atlantic Slave Trade: combining data from across the globe, this project is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities and is hosted by the Emory University Digital Library Research Initiative. It provides an interactive website and database with access to digitized maps, images, and an African names database.

World Digital Library (WDL): project of the U.S. Library of Congress, carried out with the support of the United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (UNESCO), and in cooperation with libraries, archives, museums, educational institutions, and international organizations from around the world. The WDL makes available online in multilingual format, significant primary materials from all countries and cultures.

Yale Slavery and Abolition Portal: guide to find primary sources related to slavery, abolition, and resistance within the libraries and galleries of Yale University

Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde/Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV): the KITLV aims to be a world-class research institute for the study of Southeast Asia and the Caribbean, with a focus on Indonesia and the ‘Dutch’ Caribbean, in an interdisciplinary and comparative perspective.

LANIC: Latin American Network Information Center: Lanic is a directory administered by the University of Texas Austin that provides access to official (government), scholarly, and popular internet portals to information on Latin America for virtually every subject available.

BBC News : Country Profiles: full profiles provide an instant guide to history, politics and economic background of countries and territories, and background on key institutions. They also include audio and video clips from BBC archives.

CEPALSTAT : Bases de Datos y Publicaciones Estadísticas: the gateway to all the statistical information of Latin America and the Caribbean countries collected, systematized and published by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

The Black Archives: consists of several book collections, archives and artefacts that are the legacy of black writers and scientists. The more than 5000 books in the collections are about racism and race issues, slavery and (de) colonization, gender and feminism, social sciences and development, Suriname, the Netherlands Antilles, South America, Africa and more.

Caraïbisch Uitzicht: blog of the working group Caribbean Literature of the Maatschappij der Nederlandse Letterkunde (only in Dutch).

The Cambridge encyclopedia of Latin America and the Caribbean (Simon Collier, Cambridge UP 1992)

The Cambridge history of African and Caribbean literature, 2 vols. (Abiola Irele, Cambridge UP 2004)

Caribbean popular music : an encyclopedia of Reggae, Mento, Ska, Rock Steady, and Dancehall (David Moskowitz, Greenwood Press 2006)

Critical readings on Global Slavery (edited by Damian A. Pargas and Felicia Rosu, Brill 2017)

Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro-Latin American biography (edited by Franklin W. Knight), Oxford UP 2016)

Enciclopedia de Puerto Rico (Fundación puertorriqueña de las Humanidades, National Endowment for the Humanities)

Encyclopedia of Caribbean archaeology  (Basil Reid, University Press of Florida 2014)

Encyclopedia of Caribbean literature Vol. 1: A-L, Vol. 2: M-Z ( D. Figueredo, Greenwood Press 2006)

The Encyclopedia of Caribbean religions (Sean Meighoo, University of Illinois Press 2013)

Encyclopedia of Cuba (Eileen Nelson, Nova Science Publishers 2015)

Encyclopedia of Cuba : people, history, culture. 2 vols. (Luis Martínez Fernández, Greenwood Press 2003)

The KITLV thesaurus indexes keywords for searching the KITLV collections. The thesaurus was updated untill July 2014.

Note: the keywords do not link automatically to the titles in our catalogue.

Paper journals

Current issues of journals in the field of Caribbean Studies which are not available online are placed in the round journal cabinets in the reading rooms. Back volumes are placed in our closed stacks. Please consult the Catalogue.


Titles of digital journals can be found by using our catalogue (search bar or tab Find e-journals). Collections of e-jounals, such as Project Muse and Jstor, can be found by using the tab Find databases.


Current issues of newspapers and non-academic journals are located in Informatiecentrum Huygens on the ground floor of  the University Library. Back issues are located in our closed stacks and can be requested via the catalogue.

The Digital Special Collections website provides access to digitized prints, drawings, maps, photographs, printed books and manuscripts, collection of descriptions, digital exhibitions and other digital objects in the Special Collections of the UBL.

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