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Early Publications

The American Antiquarian Society's Caribbeana collections include some of the first works printed on several islands. This exhibit features several of those works, all of which were printed within the first five years after the introduction of printing on its respective island. The printed word was far from a novelty to islanders; the real change was that the printing took place in the Caribbean rather than being imported from Great Britain or North America.

Although these items are identified as "early" printings, there is a wide range in their actual date of printing. This is because printing technology arrived to different islands in the Caribbean at different times, so that early printing in Jamaica would be around 1720, while no printing in St. Thomas took place until almost 1810.

Featured Items 



Printed for use in the year 1789, this almanac was produced in the year 1788. The first printing in the Bahamas was conducted in 1784, making this one of the earliest examples of printing done in the Bahamas.

The oldest identifiable item in AAS’s Caribbeana collection, AAS holds a single copy of this newspaper from 1718—the very first year of printing in both Jamaica and the entire Caribbean region.

The first printing in Dominica took place in 1765; AAS holds a copy of this newspaper from 1767.

Possibly related to the Freeport Gazette, AAS holds an issue of this newspaper from 1768, fewer than three years after the arrival of printing technology to the island. 

AAS holds copies of this St. Georges-Town newspaper from both 1766 and 1768, shortly after the introduction of printing to the island of Grenada in 1765.

Several issues of this regular St. Georges paper, printed between 1784 and 1797, are among AASs collections. The first issue, from 1784, was printed the very same year as the first printing on the island.

The first printing in the Bahamas took place in 1784. AAS holds a copy of this Nassau newspaper from that same year, as well as subsequent issues through 1799.

Printing technology did not reach Puerto Rico until the nineteenth century, in 1806. AAS holds a copy of this San Juan paper from only a few years later, 1808. 

Among the newest items in this collection to be labeled an "early" publication, as St. Thomas printing did not begin until 1809. AAS holds an issue of this paper from the subsequent year.

Another St. Thomas paper, and another 1810 imprint date. This paper and the Saint Thomas Gazette may have been early competitors, as both were printed in Charlotte Amalie. 

This broadside was printed in Bridgetown, Barbados, in 1730, the very first year that printing took place on that island.