The Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC) has partnered with the Institut de Sauvegarde du Patrimoine National (ISPAN) to digitize the latter’s archive of materials related to two of Haiti’s fortified heritage sites-- the Palace of Sans-Souci and Citadelle Henri, both built in the early 1800’s shortly after Haiti’s independence from France.
Ever since its founding in the late 1970s, ISPAN has worked on its mission to collect and disseminate materials related to the architectural and monumental pieces dedicated to Haiti’s national heritage. Their archive contains extensive documentation on archaeological site exploration, architectural design plans, Haitian scholarly publications, as well as photography of cultural monuments and sites throughout the country. The material is primarily from the 20th century (1979-2004), but also contains some preservation work and archaeological discoveries regarding sites from the early 19th century, as mentioned. The dLOC’s project with MEAP involves preserving the physical materials and starting digitization of the archive’s most fragile pieces.
Currently, ISPAN is the only Haitian institution with archaeological materials, publications, and documentation on the country’s historical buildings and monuments erected in the 1800’s-- when Haiti proclaimed its independence. The Palace of Sans Souci and the Citadelle, now UNESCO World Heritage Sites (1982), are fortified symbols of Haitian liberty, as they were the first monuments constructed by former Haitian slaves who had fought for their own freedom. This project’s intent to preserve and make available this material to a global audience will allow users to experience a scholarship about Haitians that was authored by Haitians themselves.
The collection documents the history of both the architectural and colonial history of Haiti, and is key in helping researchers better understand the country’s transition into independence with the emergence of a republic. The materials are of great value to a wide array of researchers both within and outside of Haiti, including as scholars of Haitian history, archaeologists, and even ecologists. But more importantly, the collection reflects an essential era Haiti’s new-found independence from France. The archaeological structures once stood as a warning to France and other world powers, making this content important in documenting how Haiti developed its own place in the world