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Durham, NC - A year ago, Duke graduate student Julia Gaffield received international media attention for finding the only known printed copy of Haitiâs Declaration of Independence, a document that had been missing for decades.
Last month, while continuing research for her doctoral dissertation, Gaffield returned to the British National Archives in London and found yet another printed copy of Haitiâs Declaration of Independence, dated January 1804.
The document is in a different format from her first discovery -- one large poster-sized page instead of an 8-page pamphlet. Gaffield said that due to its size, the document had been removed from a bound volume and re-catalogued in a map collection so it could lie flat without any folds.
When Haiti declared its independence from France in 1804, leaders posted poster-sized proclamations in public areas and word-of-mouth would have carried the information further, Gaffield said. The 8-page pamphlet, on the other hand, seems to have been produced for an audience like the British government in Jamaica, she said.
Gaffield found the large page in the archivesâ admiralty records, while researching the relationship some British islands had with Haiti following the Haitian Revolution. A cover letter with the document indicates Sir John Thomas Duckworth, the British commander in Jamaica, sent the document from Port Royal, Jamaica, to the Commissioners of the Admiralty in London in March 1804.
âThe British National Archives have such an enormous collection and the documents arenât always where youâd expect them to be, but that is half the fun,â Gaffield said. âI am sure that I havenât found everything and the fact that historical research is endless and an ongoing process is what makes it really exciting. Different researchers contribute documents and interpretations and these pieces of the puzzle come together to create a more coherent picture.â
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