BOOK: Stark on Slave Families and the Hato Economy in Puerto Rico

David M. Stark, Slave Families and the Hato Economy in Puerto Rico. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2015.

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ARTICLE: Stark on African Slave Trade to Puerto Rico

David M. Stark, “A New Look at the African Slave Trade in Puerto Rico Through the Use of Parish Registers: 1660–1815.” Slavery & Abolition 30, no. 4 (December 1, 2009): 491–520. doi:10.1080/01440390903245083.


“Our knowledge of the volume of slave traffic as well as the geographic origin and ethnicity of slaves introduced into peripheral areas of the Americas, such as the former Spanish colony of Puerto Rico, is limited. Information contained in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century parish baptismal, marriage, and death registers enables us to locate and identify Africans in a number of island communities, including San Juan. Drawing upon data culled from parish registers this study seeks to broaden our understanding of the slave trade to Puerto Rico in the years 1672 to 1810. Few slaves were brought in either from Africa or from elsewhere in the Americas to Puerto Rico, and the supply of these was erratic and limited. Although they were small in number, there was considerable diversity in the geographic origins and ethnicity of African arrivals, with individuals from West and West Central Africa predominating. For the most part, these shared a relatively homogenous culture and a greater similarity insofar as the language(s) they spoke. Such commonalities facilitated integration and promoted social cohesion among the newly arrived Africans as well as those already present in the host population. It also facilitated their integration into what was emerging as a unified Afro-Puerto Rican slave community.”

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ARTICLE: Stark on Slave Marriage in Puerto Rico

Caption, “A Spanish planter in Porto Rico, luxuriating in his hammock.” John A. Waller, A Voyage in the West Indies (London, 1820), facing p. 33, as shown on, sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the University of Virginia Library.

Stark, David M. “Making the Most of Their Time: Seasonality of Slave Marriage in Eighteenth-Century Puerto Rico.” Colonial Latin American Review 19, no. 2 (2010): 323. 

1st paragraph steal:

“On the morning of 28 December 1768, Antonio and Mariacutea, a slave couple belonging to Feacutelix Pagaacuten, were married in the Catholic church of San Germaacuten, Puerto Rico. The event was recorded in the parish marriage register, along with a notation stating no se velaron por ser tiempo prohibido; that is the couple had not received the velacioacuten, or solemn nuptial blessing, because it was a forbidden season. Although marriage may be contracted at any time of the year, Church officials frowned upon it during the seasons of Advent and Lent since the velacioacuten could not be conferred at this time. Because these seasons were to be marked by abstinence and penance, couples were discouraged from celebrating and consummating their marriage if they had not received the nuptial blessing.1 Once the penitential season was over, couples wishing to receive the blessing often returned to the church for it to be conferred, which Antonio and Mariacutea did. Seventeen days later they appeared before the parish priest Joaquiacuten Nazario de Figueroa y Matos, and received the velacioacuten.2 Marriage among slaves was not uncommon in eighteenth-century Puerto Rico and neither was it unusual for them to be joined in matrimony during the forbidden seasons, especially Advent….”

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