August 07, 2019

Summer Research Project on Eighteenth-century Jamaica

Morgan Lippert, ’21 writes:

“The summer after my first year at Beloit, I had the privilege of being a research assistant for Beloit College assistant professor of history Dr. Katherine Johnston…

  • Morgan Lippert, ’21
  • One of the Caribbean records that Morgan Lippert, ’21, transcribed for Professor Kate Johnston.

“My task was to transcribe mid-18th to early-19th century documents written by the various overseers of the Jamaican sugar plantation Mesopotamia to their employer Joseph Foster Barham I, who resided in England at the time (after his death, Barham’s son of the same name took over the ownership of the plantation).

These documents contained anything from business affairs regarding sugarcane production to more personal matters, such as the latest smallpox breakout among the slaves or the growing anxiety surrounding a Spanish invasion. Dr. Johnston had told me to look for mentions of health, environment, and race while I was browsing the letters, and in doing so I was able to obtain a sense of the complex relationships and interactions between them.

Looking back on this experience, I can say that I gained two things: first, a better knowledge of Caribbean affairs in the 18th century, a realm of history that I previously had very little knowledge of; and second, an understanding of both my future at Beloit as well as post-graduation. Before this opportunity, I was a bit unsure of my path but through this experience, I learned about both myself and my abilities as a history student.”

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