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A Letter from Bridgetown, Barbados

Justene Hill '04 is currently pursuing a doctorate in history at Princeton University.

My academic experiences in various Black Studies classes at Swarthmore piqued my interest in the experiences of African-American women, particularly within the institution of American slavery. As a Master's student in African and African Diaspora Studies at Florida International University, I completed a thesis on the urban life of enslaved women in colonial Newport, Rhode Island.

This past summer, I spent a month doing pre-dissertation research in beautiful Barbados. I traveled to multiple archives on the island in search of anything that may reveal how informal economic activities of enslaved people were regulated during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. I spent several weeks reading wills, court records, legal statutes, and newspaper articles.

While the research aspect of my trip was inevitably challenging, I spent a good amount of time relaxing on the beautiful Bajan beaches, taking in the delicious local cuisine, and snorkeling with sea turtles. I also fell in love with the island specialty, flying fish and cou cou, as well as the Friday night parties at Oistin's, a popular local hangout. Thanks to the generous funding provided by Princeton University, where I am currently a second-year Ph.D. student in history, my trip was amazing and I can't wait to return!