Archive for Research

how it has all unfolded

Where to begin.  Since July, my days have been full of reading, writing, and working.  Sounds boring, right? Actually, if I did not have the research paper to keep my days occupied, I would go mad for lack of stimulation.  I think that I’ve finally gotten it with this fifth draft.  This was a true test of a researcher and a writers creativity.  What made it more difficult than any other paper was the fact that there is no precursor.  I realized that I was writing something that had never been written before, although that idea sounds more romantic than it really is.

For this paper, there are a few books and articles, but none of them explicitly focus on Charleston.  I had to go through several drafts of the same paper to get to where I am now.  My first draft was a report, flat out.

What I did wrong:  I’d detailed the research process that I followed, right down to the search terms I had used.  I included some of the books that I found on the subject, but there was no accompanying analysis.  I included some evidence, but there was nothing really concrete to tie it all together.

What I did right: I isolated four themes: destination, Institution of Slavery, the French Connection, and Individual Identity.  These four themes represent the wide range of evidence that I collected.  In defining them they had became unique to Charleston’s history.  The tendency of these four themes to overlap and become more entwined than four definitive themes caused organization problems though.

With the second and third drafts, I wrote more of an historiographical analysis.  In these drafts, I analysed the available scholarship and presented the themes in relation to Charleston.

What I did wrong: My writing was out of touch.  I don’t know if I was succumbing to the summer heat of Charleston or what, but I was not writing like an academic.

What I did right:  I analysed the other sources.  This helped me to further define the four themes that I had developed.

In what became the present final draft, I truly had it figured out.  I don’t know if an impending deadline was the perfect catalyst for productivity, but I really didn’t get a good hold of my writing until October hit.  The paper finally came together, a collaboration of all the papers before it, but without all the faults and errors.  I could not have developed such a paper without failing at it so many time before.  I attribute the final product to truly hashing it out on paper several times.

I finally finished the research paper and submitted it to a grad school as a writing sample. More on that later.

So I am eagerly awaiting the letter…


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The Complete Travels of the Roueche Documentary in France, Abridged.

Mon pere et moiHere I am in France having a fantastic time and speaking a lot French that I didn’t know I knew.   I’m keeping a blog of the travels at

Currently we are in Paris.  We will be here until Saturday and then off to Angeot in the Alsace region. 

I’m rather excited because my good friend Marietta is in Paris right now staying at her mothers.  I hope that we can meet some time before she leaves for Holland. 

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I do not have too much to blog about, but here is a brief update:

Currently I am developing my research into an outline that will eventually morph into a historiographical paper.  My aim is to have something concrete that can aid any future researcher or knowledge seeker on the topic of Saint Domingan refugees to Charleston, SC.  Since I hope to eventually leave Charleston for graduate school, this paper will also serve as my writing sample for those applications.  

I put together a notebook containing everything I have compiled or written on this subject, i.e. the bibliography, names database, newspaper database, and outlines/notes.  It is encouraging to see everything that I have in print and organized in a notebook. 



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My Favorite Articles

I thought it would be fun to continue to share some of the more interesting articles that I’ve found along the way.   

 I think one of my favorite articles found so far is this list of Books for Sale

Anyone that knows me, knows that I drink a lot of coffee.  I’ll shamelessly admit that I probably spend more time at Kudu Coffee than anywhere else in this city!  Anyway, one of the ideas that I cannot shake when thinking about various avenues that this project could possibly take is the idea that Saint Dominguan refugees might have attempted to plant coffee in South Carolina.  I am eager to find anything that might suggest this happened or did not happen.  What gives me hope is this article that I found on growing Indigo, which I know they grew in South Carolina prior to the Haitian Revolution, but is proof that Saint Dominguan planters attempted to transplant their Caribbean crops and methods to their new homes.

 This advertisement posted by a French Gentleman, is exemplary evidence of the position of a lot of  Saint Dominguan refugees once they arrived in Charleston.   There was a demand for French language tutors and music teachers, and these French expatriates were well-positioned to fill these positions. 

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Recent Activity

My most recent activity was fixing the roadblock that I made for myself at the very beginning.  The database that I posted a month ago was on a Quattro Pro spreadsheet that I created and organized to my specific needs.  I liked working with the spreadsheet format, or I thought.  This was the first of my two major problems.  It never occurred to me that one should create a text-based database in a word document.  Then I realized my second unfortunate mistake, I’d created my database in an incompatible software to the rest of the world.  I could not open the file in any other computer outside of my own desktop because my five year old computer with Quattro Pro is antiquated already.  So for three sunny 70° Charleston days, I retyped my database into a Works Word Processor table.  It still baffles me that software created and produced under the Microsoft name cannot be opened in all Microsoft computers.  It’s crazy, right?

Now that I’ve had a chance to rant about the technical stuff, on to the important stuff.   My list of relevant newspaper articles is growing daily.  At times it is a little overwhelming, but I’ve received great advice from Dr. Butler at our weekly meetings.  In searching names and places, there are so many avenues to take, so many terms to search, names and cross-references.  I start in one direction and find myself running in another.  This really is an exercise in organization.  Dr. Butler urged me to create a list of search terms that I can strikeout and add to indefinitely.  That way I keep myself a little grounded when it comes to new ideas for a search or new names. 

What takes the most time and method are all the different ways I can search for a specific name and place.   For example: if I search the name “Benoist,” there are three Benoists currently known to have a connection with Saint Domingue.  I then either restrict the search to South Carolina newspapers after 1791.  Or, I type in another keyword, like Saint Domingue, Haiti, Hayti, unfortunate sufferer(s), refugee(s), Charleston, French family, and/or French gentleman/lady.   I could potentially find dozens of articles or nothing at all for each of the three Benoist.  

I got my hands on the 150th Anniversary pamplet of La Société  Française de Charleston.  In this pamphlet, published in 1966 by the Société Française, there is a brief history of the French presence in Charleston, a list of the founding members, and a list of subsequent members and their date of joining.  Through these two lists, I have a tons of names to search to figure out their place of origin and if there is a Saint Domingue connection.  So these searches have become my current focus. 

COMING SOON: Haitian Literature page

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Searching the Internet

For the past week my days have consisted of searching the America’s Historical Newspapers database for anything Saint Domingue and Charleston, SC related.  It is a slow process, but at times rewarding.  I have found some interesting articles, a lot in French, and I have to say the f=s thing is tougher in French than English. 

One of the more interesting articles lists the Market Prices for a barrel of wine, flour, oil and the price of soap at Cape Francois in June of 1799.  I find it fascinating, it’s an economical indication of what is happening on the ground in the midst of it all. 

So when I find an article that is relevant I put it on a spreadsheet that I created.  I’ve included it in an altered form for the curious.  Keep in mind that the list is growing everyday.  newspaper.pdf 

I also found this:  This website has tons of maps from the 18th century.   There are three of Saint Domingue/Haiti.

Outside of sitting at my computer, I’m reading a book by Nathalie Dessens, From Saint-Domingue to New Orleans: Migration and Influences.  It is a parallel study of refugees who ended up in New Orleans. 

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Struck Gold!

I found this link today.  A bibliography on the Haitian Revolution.  It is not a complete list for the purposes of my project and it is a little outdated- from 1991, nonetheless it is a great addition to my growing bibliography.

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