Secondary Sources

All sources, whether primary or secondary, need to be read carefully and critically.  Even as you read a textbook or listen to lectures, you should not assume they are “objective.” Points of view and assumptions come with any story about the past.  When you read textbooks, books, articles, and attend lectures, ask yourself, what is the author’s argument? What assumptions do they make? What is being emphasized and why? What might be left out or overlooked? What might one argue against this interpretation? Is there a better interpretation? Why? 

Scholarly Journals 

The following scholarly journals are the most important for professional historians of Latin America and the Caribbean. In most of the titles below, I’ve provided links to the actual journal’s website. JSTOR does not always provide access to the most recent 3-5 years of issues in most cases. You will probably need to access multiple electronic journal databases in order to get the full range of journal issues. 

Latin American/Caribbean History in General 

 Hispanic American Historical Review 

 Journal of Caribbean History

 New West Indian Guide

Journal of Latin American Studies (Published by the Latin American Studies Association with emphasis on the modern period)

Bulletin of Latin American Research

The Americas 

The American Historical Review (the preeminent journal for professional historians, covering all periods and all fields of history)


The William and Mary Quarterly(Colonial period in the Americas to 1800)

Colonial Latin American Review

Diplomatic History (U.S. diplomatic history with a strong focus on the Cold War) 


This is not an exhaustive list of books related to the history of the Spanish Caribbean. These are some of my suggested readings and useful resources.


Primary Sources

Primary sources are those that are closest to a particular event, individual or time in the past. They are made by people who witnessed, experienced, or participated in that event. There are many types of primary sources, including newspaper articles, letters, interviews, autobiographies, court records, pictures, buildings, songs, maps, tools, and clothing. Primary sources are often difficult to read and challenging to understand. It’s important to have a clear sense of the following questions when you turn to them for historical evidence.


  1. What sort of document is this? When was it written, who was it written for, and why?
    • What can you confidently say about the production and purpose of the document just by reading it? Who produced it? What do you know about the author and the audience? Can you tell what the author’s intention was in creating the source?
  2. What is the document about?
    • What topics does it discuss? What is the basic story line? What is the argument?
  3. What can this document tell us about the past?
    • What are the key issues it raises? How does the source speak to the larger political, cultural, economic, social, religious, or intellectual developments at that time?
    • How does it compare to other sources or information you have about the same time or issue?
    • Is this source credible? Or, do you have to doubt its credibility? And if you doubt it, what does that tell you about the document, its author, and its historical significance?
  4. What does it make you want to know more about?
    • What is missing from this source?
    • Does the source seem to produce any silences—in other words, does it ignore the viewpoint of one group of people while it favors another?
    • What would you need to know to make better sense of the source?

General Collections

Latin American Primary Source Database (from North Carolina State University–just make sure the document is from the region you’re studying since many of these are from Latin America not the Caribbean):

LANIC (Latin American Network Information Center)–great resource by country but some are not accessible from the internet:

Digital Library of the Caribbean (University of Florida):

Digital Archive of Latin American and Caribbean Ephemera (Princeton):

Latin American Poster Collection (Princeton):

Colonial History

Slavery Image Database:

Caribbean Views (British Library):

Nineteenth-Century History

Building the Panama Canal Exhibition (Linda Hall Library):

Modern History

Puerto Rico at the Dawn of the Modern Age (Library of Congress):

Cuban Heritage Collection (University of Miami):

Castro Speech Database:

Cuba and the Cold War (BBC):

Cuba Documentation Project (Cold War, National Security Archive):

Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962 (National Security Archive):

Beisbol Diplomacy:

Deena Stryker Cuban Photographs, 1963-1964 (Duke University):

Mexico’s Foreign Policy Toward Cuba (National Security Archive):

Cuba and Southern Africa in the Cold War (Wilson Center):

FBI COINTELPRO Declassified Records on Puerto Ricans (FBI):

Puerto Rican Civil Court Records: in =

Caribbean Sea Migration, 1965-1996 (Duke University):

Mariel Boatlift Photographs (University of Wisconsin-La Crosse):

Digital Sources from National Archives and Libraries

Biblioteca Digital de Puerto Rico:

Celebrating Cuba! Digital Library of the Caribbean (Biblioteca Nacional de Cuba José Martí and University of Florida):