This is my official first time blogging or keeping a personal web space. Primarily I will be documenting my experiences as a Special Collections research intern at the Charleston County Public Library. Under the auspices of Dr. Nic Butler, I am researching the migrations of Saint Domingue refugees to Charleston, SC.
More precisely the migrations of the French colonial planters, Creoles, freed blacks, etc. living in Saint Domingue around the start of the slave rebellion in the 1780s to the 1800s when they were forced out of the newly independent black republic. They fled all over the Atlantic world, to U.S. port cities like Philadelphia, Baltimore, New Orleans, and Charleston, where they were welcomed at some places and feared at others. So what happened to those who fled to Charleston, SC? They either were absorbed into the pre-established French Huguenot society or moved to other places. We really do not know, so insert me and this project.
The first step is to design a bibliography of what is already known on the subject. There are innumerable sources on the Revolution itself and a few on its effects on the Atlantic world. The Charleston County Public Library has the potential sources to uncover the whereabouts of these missing refugees, but they are stored away in the Special Collections department until someone finds the time to catalog and database them. Again, insert me and my empty schedule. So this is the beginning of the project and hopefully we will uncover something new and change the face of Franco-Haitian-Charleston history as we know it.
You may wonder what has possessed me to undertake such a task, well here is your answer. I, Lee Frances Roueche, a recent graduate of the College of Charleston with a B.A. in History and minors in African studies and French, am bored. I took a year off to decide what I really want to do with the rest of my life. So I, as my friend Will called it, “played school” for another semester, and took two additional courses as an adult student in the fall. Alas, I still yearned for more direction in life; as opposed to falling headfirst into a graduate program for history, (I just could not bring myself to devote two more years to plain old History). So I harassed Dr. Butler for several months about an independent internship to keep me focused on a career path, and JACKPOT, he introduced me to Public History, amazingly practical and career-oriented Public History. Nine months later an idea is finally slowly forming, and I am filling out Graduate school applications and thinking to the future while staying busy at the library and at work.