A DIGITAL ARCHIVE
This digital archive is an aid in understanding how British, Canadian and especially U.S. nationals managed and, on occasion, challenged informal empire in 1940s and 1950s Cuba. Cuba’s Anglo-American Colony in Times of Revolution, documents how, in the context of revolution, contact between Cubans and U.S. nationals–as well as a smaller number of British and Canadian residents–reproduced existing hierarchies, while simultaneously creating new empathies. Cuba’s Anglo-American residents managed informal empire by developing and cultivating economic, political and cultural authority on the island. These privileged outsiders were able to exert dominance through socioeconomic partnerships with Cuban powerbrokers. However, Anglo-American educators, journalists, missionaries, politicians, executives, mobsters and philanthropists crafted a diverse, and often contradictory set of alliances with Cubans. In the context of revolution, where their Cuban colleagues, classmates, students, parishioners, friends and family risked their lives and their privilege for a “new” Cuba, a significant segment of Anglo-American residents entered into cross-cultural solidarities with revolutionary actors. Based on the personal commitments they developed with Cubans, many U.S., British and Canadian nationals residing in Cuba struggled for a socioeconomic and political transformation of Cuban society, both before the revolution ousted the Batista government and after the revolutionary government had consolidated power. This archive centers a new set of actors, institutions, and relationships in the narrative of the Cuban Revolution.
Without the support of countless people willing to invest time in this project and my personal and professional development during this journey through graduate school, my dissertation would never have been completed. Seventy-seven oral histories and nine extensive email exchanges were collected for this project, yet that number would have been far fewer if not for the incredible contributions of Carroll English and Chris Baker. Carroll English opened up a network of former missionaries in Cuba and Cuban Protestants that added texture to this dissertation through their oral testimonies, as well as their contributions of letters, diaries, memoirs and photos, much of which I am able to share in this archive. Chris Baker, the son of Ruston Academy headmaster James Baker, introduced me to a diverse and significant set of Cubans and Anglo-Americans who resided in Havana in the 1950s who painted portraits of life on an island undergoing revolutionary change. Both Carroll English and Chris Baker have contributed enormously to the rich narratives featured in this archive.