Caribbean Blue Books, 1824-1950
The Caribbean Blue Books of National Statistics reveal the origins of the modern day Caribbean; with a scope that encompasses the colonies of Antigua, the Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, British Honduras, Dominica, Jamaica, Montserrat, St Christopher, Nevis, St Lucia, St. Vincent, Tortola, the Turks Islands, the British Virgin Islands, Trinidad and Tobago. They commence in the 1820s, during the final years of slavery; then cover the development of social services during a century of significant economic upheaval, before concluding in the mid twentieth century as the sun began to set on the British Empire.
Prior to discovery by European explorers, in many cases by Christopher Columbus, the majority of these islands were alleged to have been occupied by two tribes. The group has become known as the Taino or Arawaks, the second as the Caribs. The Caribs are alleged to have killed and chased the peaceful Taino from various islands prior to European occupation. However, the 'Arawak' and 'Carib' labels are disputed, as are legends of peaceful Arawak tribes being overcome by 'cannibalistic' Caribs; these legends being derived from the accounts of colonizers who had every reason to justify their subjugation of the native Amerindians. The term 'Amerindians' has been used in instances where the legends of Arawaks and Caribs have been promulgated; this is so as to avoid the use of these loaded and potentially misleading terms. One clear theme that does emerge from these colonies' histories is that of a swathe of native populations being eradicated, the demise of these populations has been linked to Spanish colonization following their discovery by Christopher Columbus. The native populations that were virtually or entirely eradicated included those of the Bahamas, Barbados, the British Virgin Islands, Jamaica, the Turks Islands and Trinidad. Countries colonized by the British, French and Dutch also saw their native populations eradicated by slavery and disease.
For the most part these statistical records cover the years from 1839 to 1938, although some records commence from 1824 and others continue until 1950. The records for each colony are prefaced by a brief introduction to that colony. In combination these records are more than just statistics, they are stories. The population returns tell the reader who was living in each colony, the Education reports reveal changes in access to the opportunities that education provides. Grants of land reveal who held the colonial wealth, imports and exports reveal how much wealth each colony had to support it and prison statistics reveal who was unable to remain a part of that society. The co-location of these records enables the reader to compare the living conditions and access to services across colonies throughout the march towards independence. By comparing these hidden narratives, with the dates at which independence was achieved, it is possible to observe the extent to which variations in conditions on each colony fueled or slowed its journey toward independence.