Caribbean Studies Reference Sources

This is a broad guide covering African Caribbean life and culture.  It is limited to printed reference books in the humanities and social sciences.   All titles listed are available in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library.   As a guide, it will lead the user to more extensive material in the subject area.

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A Bibliography of the Negro in Africa and America. 1965 [c1928].  African American Research Center 01632526 W89B1965.   Monroe Work’s classic bibliography contains 17,000 references in 74 classified chapters, all published before 1928.  The book was the first comprehensive bibliography of its kind and has been widely used by scholars and laymen.

A Bibliography of the Caribbean. 1996.  Oak Street Facility 016.9729 G693B.   Contains 3,600 entries arranged alphabetically.  A representative overview of the bibliographic output about the region from Bermuda to Trinidad as well as Belize, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana.

Blacks in Canada: In Search of the Promise: A Bibliographical Guide to the History of Blacks in Canada.  1988.  African American Research Center 971.00496 G7476.  Consists of two parts.  The first part is an historical overview documenting the early period of slavery and waves of black immigration starting with the Loyalists in 1783 to present-day Caribbean immigrants.  The second part is an annotated checklist that includes material on Caribbean immigrants.

The Complete Caribbeana, 1900-1975: A Bibliographic Guide to the Scholarly Literature.  4 vols. 1977.  African American Research Center 016.972905 C73C.  Volumes are divided into nine major thematic sections. These are further divided into 63 topical chapters. Also includes an Author and Geographic index

Haiti: Guide to the Periodical Literature in English, 1800-1990. 1991.  African American Research Center 016.97294 H127.   Dedicated to the systematic compilation of periodical articles in English.  Contains more than 5,000 citations arranged in chronological order by subject and grouped within nine categories.

Jamaican National Bibliography,1964-1974.  Main Stacks 016.97292 IN7J1981.  A compilation of titles from the Jamaican National Bibliography, 1964-1970, published by the West India Reference Library, the Institute of Jamaica, and titles from three Jamaican libraries (Institute of Jamaica, the Jamaica Library Service and the University of the West Indies at Mona) during the 1970 through 1974 period.

Latin America and the Caribbean: A Critical Guide to Research Sources. 1992.  Internatin & Area Studies Ref Latin Am. Z1601 .L3225 1992.  Divided into fifteen chapters, beginning with a general bibliography of interdisciplinary sources. The fourteen chapters that follow cover disciplines in the social sciences and humanities. Each chapter includes an introductory essay or essays, one or more bibliographic sections, and a section describing relevant special collections.

Research Guide to Central America and the Caribbean. 1985.  Internatin & Area Studies Ref Latin Am. Z1595 .R47 1985.  Describes archival collections available in Central American and Caribbean countries as well as topical collections pertaining to these regions that are contained in  U.S. depositories.

Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles: An Annotated English-Language Bibliography. 1992.  African American Research Center 016.972986 B812S.  Identifies over 1,000 published and unpublished works, written in English on Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles. The country-specific materials listed are held in twelve libraries within the Caribbean region.

Towards a bibliography of African-Caribbean studies, 1970-1980.  African American Research Center 016.9728 H14T.  A 37-page bibliography published by the African-Caribbean Institute of Jamaica.  References works on Caribbean and African American culture and history with regard to African cultural survivals and influences.


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Biographical Dictionary of Latin American and Caribbean Political Leaders.  African American Research Center 972.90092 B52.   A compiliation of more than 450 biographical sketches of important political figures in the 19th and 20th centuries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Each entry describes the subject’s political significance as well as their career, family background, education, and relevant nonpolitical activities.  Appendixes list the leaders according to country or territory, and provide a chronology of major events in the region from Haitian independence in 1804 to the present day. A general subject index completes the volume.

Caribbean Writers: A Bio-Bibliographical-Critical Encyclopedia.  1979.  African American Research Center 809.89729 C19.   Contains biographical information on some 2,000 creative writers offering detailed information about authors from the anglophone, francophone, hispanophone,  and Dutch-speaking Caribbean.  Also contains bibliographic detail on upwards of 15,000 works.

Companion to Contemporary Black British Culture.  2002.  African American Research Center 941.00496 C738.  Provides multidisciplinary coverage of the field of black cultural production in Britain.  Areas of black British cultural production covered are writing, music, visual and plastic arts, performance works, film and cinema, fashion and design, and intellectual life.  Includes African, Caribbean and South Asian ethnicities, and addresses the debates concerning notions of black Britishness and cultural identity.

Contemporary Black Biography. 1992- . African American Research Center 920.009296 C767.  Covers internationally known individuals from all areas of interest.  Each volume presents about 65 biographies ranging in length from two to five pages.  Portraits and exclusive interviews are provided when available.  Name, occupation, nationality and subject indexes are included in each volume.

C.  2016.  6 vols.  African American Research Center.  Provides a comprehensive overview of the lives of Caribbeans and Afro-Latin Americans who are historically significant. Covers the entire Caribbean, and the Afro-descended populations throughout Latin America, including people who spoke and wrote Creole, Dutch, English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish. Individuals are drawn from all walks of life including philosophers, politicians, activists, entertainers, scholars, poets, scientists, religious figures, kings, and everyday people whose lives have contributed to the history of the Caribbean and Latin America.

Dictionary of Literary Biography: Twentieth-Century Caribbean and Black African Writers.  Presents career biographies and criticism of writers from all eras and all genres through volumes dedicated to specific types of literature and time periods.  The first two series profile 65 Caribbean and Black African writers of the twentieth century.  The third series profile 39 Caribbean and Black African writers.  In each series the greatest number of Caribbean writers come from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Guyana.

  • First Series.  1992.  African American Research Center 928.1 D561 v.117
  • Second Series.  1993.  African American Research Center 928.1 D561 v.125.
  • Third Series.  1996.  African American Research Center 928.1 D561 v.157

Fifty Caribbean Writers: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook.  African American Research Center 810.9 F4662.  The in-depth treatment here includes biography, description of major works and themes, summary of critical reception, and an exhaustive bibliography of works by and about each author.

Selected Black American, African, and Caribbean Authors: A Bio-Bibliography.  African American Research Center 016.8109 P143S1985.   Concerned primarily with African American literature of the United States, it also attempts to give some insight to the literary scene in Africa and the Caribbean diaspora.  Covers 632 authors.


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African Caribbeans: a Reference Guide. 2004.  African American Research Center 972.900496 Af835.  Each of the 15 chapters introduces a country, island, or group of islands, providing an overview from the arrival of slaves to the current situation. Topics include, history, economy, politics, social stratification, race relations, cultural highlights, religion, and notable figures.

Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African & African American Experience.  2nd ed.  5 vols.  2005.  African American Research Center 0496003 Af83 2005.  More than 4,000 articles cover prominent individuals, events, trends, places, political movements, art forms, business and trade, religion, ethnic groups, organizations and countries on both sides of the Atlantic.  History and culture in the United States, throughout the rest of the Americas, and in Africa receive strong emphasis.

Atlas of Central America and the Caribbean.  1985.   Main Stacks Q. 912.728 D54A.  Uses a mixture of text, illustrations, graphs, tables, and maps to present general information on such regional topics as geography, climate, history, population, land use, politics, etc., as well as two- to four-page chapters on the individual countries. Each country chapter typically includes a brief fact box, a short, encyclopedia-style article, and an outline map that includes only principal towns, main roads, and a few of the major geographical features such as principal mountains and rivers.

Cambridge Encyclopedia of Latin America and the Caribbean. 1985.  Internatin & Area Studies Ref Latin Am. F1406 .C36 1992.   From geology and biology to cinema and the theatre, this thematic encyclopedia provides an account of all aspects of Latin America and the Caribbean. Structured in six parts, The Physical environment — The Economy — The Peoples — History — Politics and society — and Culture, this work contains over 50 maps and a select glossary.

Caribbean History in Maps.  1979.  Map & Geography Library 912.729 AS34C.  Details the history of the Caribbean through maps and textual support.  Contains over 175 maps and diagrams.

Dictionary of Afro-Latin American Civilization.  African American Research Center 980.003 N922D.  The author has carefully selected more than 4,500 entries pertinent to the study of Africans in Latin America and the Caribbean.  A historical and descriptive subject dictionary of terms and phrases including selected biographies of political leaders, writers, and other personalities.

Enciclopedia Brasileira da Diaspora Africana.  2004.  African American Research Center 981.00496 L8812e.  Contains about nine thousand entries, addressing issues ranging from biographies of personalities, historical and contemporary facts, entertainment, religion, political parties, flora and fauna, etc.  Focuses on African culture and Brazil’s African descendants.

Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History: The Black Experience in the Americas.  2nd ed.  5 vols. and supplement.  2006.  African American Research Center 973.0496073 En192006.   Addresses a wide array of subjects in over 2,300 articles to define the cultural roots, participation in American life, and current condition of the African American community.  Includes articles on influential West Indians.

Encyclopedia of Blacks in European History and Culture.  2 vols.  2009.  African American Research Center 940.0496 En192.  More than 350 essay entries introduce readers to the white European response to blacks in their countries, the black experiences and impact there, and the major interactions between Europe and Africa, the Caribbean, and the United States that resulted in the settling of blacks in Europe.  Entries include discussion of country roles in the African slave trade and abolition and its colonies in Africa and the Caribbean.

Encyclopedia of Caribbean Religions.  2 vols.  2013.  African American Research Center 200.972903 En192.  A definitive reference for Caribbean religious phenomena from a Caribbean perspective.  Organized alphabetically, entries examine how Caribbean religious experiences have been shaped by and have responded to the processes of colonialism and the challenges of the postcolonial world.  The encyclopedia considers religious traditions such as Vodou, Rastafari, Sunni Islam, Sanatan Dharma, Judaism, and the Roman Catholic and Seventh-day Adventist churches.

Encyclopedia of the African Diaspora: Origins, Experiences, and Culture.  3 vols.  2008.  African American Research Center 305.896003 En199.  Five hundred years of relocation and dislocation, of assimilation and separation have produced a rich tapestry of history and culture into which are woven people, places, and events. This reference work picks out the strands of the tapestry, telling the story of diverse peoples, separated by time and distance, but retaining a commonality of origin and experience. Organized in A–Z sections covering global topics, country of origin, and destination country.

The Historical Dictionaries of the Americas series.
Historical Dictionaries have definite advantages concerning the periods they cover, which frequently reach far back in history and contain information that is extremely hard and sometimes impossible to find on the web.

  • Historical dictionary of the British Caribbean.  1975.  Main Stacks 972.9003 L97H.
  • Historical dictionary of Costa Rica.  1991.  Main Stacks 972.8603 C86H 1991.
  • Historical dictionary of Cuba.  2001.  History, Philosophy & Newspaper Ref.  972.91003 Su18h2001.
  • Historical dictionary of the French and Netherlands Antilles.  1978.  Main Stacks 972.971 G21H.
  • Historical Dictionary of Haiti.  2012.  African American Research Center 972.94003 H14h.  Haiti proclaimed its independence from France on January 1, 1804 following the only successful slave revolt in the Americas.  Covers the history of Haiti starting in 1492 with the initial discovery of the island Haiti shares with the Dominican Republic to 2012.  Contains over 400 cross-referenced entries on crucial aspects of Haitian history.
  • Historical dictionary of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  1973.  Main Stacks 917.29 F24H.
  • Historical dictionary of Trinidad and Tobago.  1997.  Main Stacks 972.98303 AN88H.  Describes the important people, places, events, and institutions of the nation as well as its society, culture, and economy.  Includes a comprehensive bibliography, maps and a chronology. Tobago was first claimed by the English in the 16th century and is overwhelmingly African, its few European influences are almost exclusively English and Protestant.  In contrast, Trinidad, a one time Spanish colony strongly influenced by French creole culture, annexed by the British 200 years ago, has become further diversified by immigrants from British India, China, Italy, Lebanon, and the West Indies.

South America, Central America and the Caribbean.  2006.  International & Area Studies Ref 318 So872.   Includes separate chapters for every country in the region containing history, geography and details of the economy; a demographic and economic survey using statistics on finance, industry, agriculture, trade, population, education, transport and tourism; and a directory of essential names, addresses and contact numbers, plus a bibliography. Includes a directory of government organization, political organizations, diplomatic representation, judicial system, mass communication, trade and industry, etc.


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The Afro-Spanish American Author: An Annotated Bibliography of Criticism. 1980.  Oak Street Facility 016.86909 J137ASUP.  Contains 562 entries on authors, literature, and criticism.

The Afro-Spanish American Author II: The 1980s. 1989.  Main Stacks 016.86909 J137ASUP.  An additional 466 entries.

Bibliography of Women Writers from the Caribbean.  Main Stacks 016.808899287 B458B.   Lists creative works by 1,067 women writers. Arranged into four sections by language.

Black Literature Criticism. 1992.  African American Research Center 809.8896 B5616.  Covers 125 writers representing the United States, Africa, and Jamaica. Each entry presents a historical survey of critical response to the author’s works.

Black Literature Criticism: Classic and Emerging Authors since 1950.  3 vols.  2008.  African American Research Center 809.889 B561.

Caribbean Women Novelists: An Annotated Critical Bibliography.  Main Stacks 016.80989287 C191.  Includes women writers who have published at least one book since 1950. Arranged by author and country.

Dictionary of Literary Biography.

  • Twentieth-Century Caribbean and Black African Biography.  vol. 117.  African American Research Center 928.1 D561.

West Indian Literature: An Index to Criticism.  African American Research Center 016.8109 AL56W.  Cites critics, criticism, and reviewers.

Writers of the Caribbean and Central America: A Bibliography. 1992.  2 vols.  African American Research Center 016.808894729 F368W



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Bibliographic Guide to Caribbean Mass Communication. 1992. Communications Library Ref. 016.30223 L549B.   An international survey of literature on publishing, film, television, radio, and news services in the region.

Baila!: A Bibliographic Guide to Afro-Latin Dance Musics from Mambo to Salsa.  2013.  Music & Performing Arts Ref. ML128.D3 G73 2013.  Focuses on the diffusion of Cuban popular musical styles throughout the Americas as well as the creation of new hybrids in places such as Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela and Latin New York.

Black Theatre and Performance: A Pan-African Bibliography.  1990.  Main Stacks 016.72 G793B.

Blacks in Film and Television: A Pan-African Bibliography of Films, Filmmakers, and Performers.  1990.  Main Stacks 016.79145096 G793B.

The Cambridge Guide to African and Caribbean Theatre. 1994.  African American Research Center 792.096 C144.  Covers theatrical activity in the English and Spanish speaking Caribbean and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Cambridge Guide to African and Caribbean theatre.  2004.  Music & Performing Arts Ref. PN2969 C363 2004.

Caribbean Mass Communications: A Comprehensive Bibliography.  1981.  Main Stacks 016.3022309729 L549C.

Directory of Film and Video Production Resources in Latin America and the Caribbean.  1989.  Main Stacks 791.40258 R176D.

A Guide to Latin American, Caribbean, and U.S. Latino Made Film and Video.  1998.  Oak Street Facility PN1995.9.L37 G85 1998.

The Jamaican Stage, 1655-1900: Profile of a Colonial Theatre.  1992.  Main Stacks 792.097292 H551J.

Rastafari and Reggae: A Dictionary and Sourcebook. 1990. Main Stacks 299.67 M919R




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Black Immigration and Ethnicity in the United States: An Annotated Bibliography. 1985.  African American Research Center 016.305896073 B561.   Relates to the issues of black immigration of recent decades and its effects on the changing composition of the black population in the U.S.

Black Slavery in the Americas: An Interdisciplinary Bibliography, 1865-1980.  2 vols.  1982.  African American Research Center 016.306362 Sm61B.

Books on Race and Race Relations held in the Richard B. Moore Library, Barbados.  1987.  Oak Street Facility 026.0008996 M85B.

Dictionary of Contemporary Politics of Central America and the Caribbean.  Main Ref. 320.972 G957D.   Entries are arranged alphabetically and by country in this subject dictionary. Contains over 20 pages of maps.

The Latin American Political Dictionary.  Main Stacks 980.00321 R7351.  Covers government, the military, political parties, etc.

Slavery: A Worldwide Bibliography.  1985.  History, Philosophy & Newspapers Library Ref. 016.306362 M615S.

West Indian Americans: A Research Guide. 2001.  African American Research Center 016.97304 W528w.  A bibliographic survey covering more than 500 articles, books, and other studies on the West Indian immigrant experience.

Women in Jamaica: a Bibliography of Published and Unpublished Sources. 1997.  African American Research Center 016.3054 B63w.  Cites over 600 works under topical headings such as Arts and Literature, Biography, Education, Economic Conditions and Employment, Family and Fertility, Health, Legal Issues, Politics, and Social Conditions.

Women in the Caribbean: An Annotated Bibliography: A Guide to Material Available in Barbados.  1979.  History, Philosophy & Newspapers Library Film 305.4 W84 reel 6.

Women’s Education in the Third World: An Annotated Bibliography. 1989.  Main Stacks 016.37091724 K29.  Includes a geographic index to citations.



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The following abstracting and indexing services will provide citations to articles in both magazines and journals:

Black Studies on Disc. 2004. African American Research Center Pan-African Workstation.  Contains 100,000 records for monographs and audio-visual material owned by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; and the last five years of periodical indexing from Index to Black Periodicals.

Carindex: Social Sciences. Vols. 1-5.  1977-1981.  Main Stacks 016.3 C19.

Index to Black Periodicals. 1950-2004.  African American Reference Center 325.2605 IND1A.   Indexes magazines and journals by authors and subjects. Covers all aspects of the African American experience. Film and Book reviews included.

Kaiser Index to Black Resources, 1948-1986. 5 vols. 1992.  African American Research Center 016.9730496073.  Contains 174,000 citations from over 150 periodicals. Mostly newspapers.

Social and Economic Studies Author Index, 1951-1976.  Main Stacks 330.972905 SOINDEX1953-1977.  An index to the journal Social and Economic Studies.


Here are several useful websites available in Caribbean Studies: Internet Resources.

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