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Leah Rosenberg

Department of English
2011-2012 Library Enhancement Grant

Prof. Leah Rosenberg was awarded a Library Enhancement Grant to expand the collection of early Caribbean literature and periodicals in the Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC) and UF Digital Collections (UFDC). The University of Florida is a founding member and the technological hub of dLOC, an open access database of digitized historical material from the Caribbean and the largest database of periodicals from the Caribbean. The Library Enhancement Grant allowed the dLOC and UFDC to acquire Planters’ Punch (1922-1945) from the National Library of Jamaica, which digitized the periodical for dLOC. Planters’ Punch is now available on dLOC.

Planters’ Punch was an annual magazine published by the Jamaican Gleaner that featured Jamaican literature as well as essays on Jamaican history, society, and contemporary business. Planters’ Punch is an important historical source for scholars of Caribbean literature, history, and political science. Its editor, Herbert de Lisser, published a novel or novella in the journal each year. In addition to being the editor of the country’s largest daily newspaper for nearly forty years, de Lisser was also Jamaica’s most prolific literary writer before 1950. Many of his literary works are available only in Planters’ Punch, which was previously housed only in two or three libraries worldwide.

Planters’ Punch contributes to dLOC’s growing collection of Caribbean cultural and political magazines, which also includes Kyk-Over-Al (Guyana), Jamaica Journal (Jamaica), MaComère (international), as well as a novels, short stories, and plays. This collection is important because it makes most of these texts accessible for the first time outside of national libraries and universities in the West Indies. Increasing their accessibility is key to expanding awareness and analysis of the West Indies literary canon.

Prof. Rosenberg is now planning a graduate seminar centered on Planters’ Punch and other resources in dLOC, entitled “From the Colonial to the Digital Archive: Caribbean Literature and History.” She is also beginning work on a larger-scale grant to digitize Caribbean literary manuscripts and periodicals currently in need of preservation. The goal is to coordinate the expansion of literary materials in dLOC with both the development of courses that use dLOC materials and the production of bibliographical and contextual materials such as teaching guides and bibliography concerning Caribbean literature.