Cuban Slave Death Certificates and Burial Letters Collection
Scope and Content
The collection, which spans the second half of the nineteenth century, includes letters from slave owners to the priest of the church of Montserrat in Havana, Cuba. In these letters they report the death of their slaves and ask for burial arrangements. The collection also includes death certificates of slaves, runaway slaves, and free persons of color issued by the Real Hospital de Caridad de San Felipe y Santiago. Both types of documents provide extensive detail on the slaves, such as their names, racial classification, ages, origin, and cause of death. The letters are manuscript; the death certificates are completed printed forms. The collection also includes a notice of baptism and the death certificate of a Spaniard issued by the Hospital General Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes de La Habana.
- Majority of material found within 1860s-1870s
The collection is open for research.
From the sixteenth century up to its abolition in 1886, slavery was an important form of labor for the Cuban economy, especially the production of sugar. Within this society, the Catholic Church provided some services to slaves, such as assigning burial space for slaves and providing care to the sick in the church's charity hospitals. One of these hospitals was the Real Hospital de Caridad de San Felipe y Santiago established in 1603 by the order of friars of San Juan de Dios. The hospital provided care for soldiers, white people, Black people, and people of mixed races. However, it functioned mostly as a hospice, for most of the people who went there were either very old or very sick. Alexander Humboldt indicated that plantation owners used to send their sick slaves to die to this hospital so they did not have to care for them in their own houses.
.01 Linear feet (1 Folder)
Language of Materials
The collection, which spans the second half of the nineteenth century, includes 28 documents. Some are letters of slave owners to the priest of the church of Montserrat in Havana, Cuba; others are death certificates of slaves, runaway slaves, and free persons of color issued by the Real Hospital de Caridad de San Felipe y Santiago.
The collection is arranged in chronological order.
University of Florida Smathers Library Building
Alternative Format Available
This guide is available in Spanish at https://www.uflib.ufl.edu/findingaids/Spanish/mss0397.pdf.
The collection was purchased in 2016.
- A Guide to the Cuban Slave Death Certificates and Burial Letters Collection
- Finding aid created by Margarita Vargas-Betancourt
- July 2017
- Description rules
- Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Description is written in English.
Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository
George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America