Adam Matthew Digital publishes Colonial Caribbean – CO Files from The National Archives, UK, with advanced Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR) technology

19 October 2021

Adam Matthew’s Colonial Caribbean – CO Files from The National Archives, UK, contains an enormous range of unique primary sources that cover British governance of 25 islands in the Caribbean, stretching from Jamaica and the Bahamas to St Lucia and Barbados during the period 1624-1872. 

This first of three modules, now available, stretches from the turbulent years of early British settlement to the rise of the abolition movement. Titled Settlement, Slavery, and Empire, 1624-1832 the material contained within module I documents the growth of absentee landlords and traces the rise and decline of the slave trade, from the regular transportation of enslaved peoples to the rise of the abolition movement.

The predominantly manuscript material is supported with the application of AM Digital’s advanced HTR technology, using artificial intelligence to identify words and phrases across handwritten content and making it available to students and researchers of all levels. The innovative technology allows users to perform site-wide and targeted document-level searches, resulting in extended discoverability across the vast range of manuscript content.

“This new collection is a vital and unrivalled resource for an administrative understanding of the region’s colonial era amongst the fierce rivalries of the British, Spanish and Dutch, presenting an opportunity for the academic community to study slavery from prominence to abolition in the wider context of British colonial rule in the Caribbean. The addition of innovative HTR technology makes this important content more accessible than ever and allows students, in many cases unfamiliar with historic handwritten material, to conduct their own primary research.”

Lauren Morgan, Head of Editorial Production, Adam Matthew Digital

The unrivalled scope of material supports teaching and research needs across a wide variety of themes covering topics such as settlement and colonial rivalries, to the economics of the plantation systems and the impact of slavery, as well as crime and punishment and the everyday lives of the people that called the islands home.

To find out more about Colonial Caribbean – CO Files from The National Archives, UK, or to request a free trial, visit the Adam Matthew website: