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Atlantic History Northern Europe and the Atlantic World
by
Gunvor Simonsen

Introduction

The engagement of northern European states and peoples in the Atlantic world has received little and uneven attention. There are several reasons for this. First, northern European states did not experience the postwar migration from their former colonies that the larger Atlantic empires did. Consequently, the demand of descendants of colonial subjects to reconcile this past with their present was not a pressing political issue in northern Europe. Second, scholarly institutions in northern Europe have not provided institutional support for the development of a coherent tradition of Atlantic history. Instead, research has come in waves, depending on the interest of individual historians. This irregular attention may in turn be connected to political developments in the 19th century. Denmark, for instance, lost much of its European territory during this period. The national self-understanding that resulted from this history of territorial shrinkage was one of a small, peaceful, and homogenous state, inconsistent with the involvement of the Danish state and Danes in the slave trade and slavery. In different ways but with a similar result, Sweden, Finland, and Norway have developed national narratives in which their engagement in the Atlantic world has been insignificant. A third reason for this relatively minor interest in the Atlantic world has to do with northern Europe’s early abandonment of Atlantic possessions, which inevitably influences the way historians of former colonies and settlements approach this element of the past. The historical record is often written in marginal Scandinavian languages that are linguistically obsolete in the areas formerly colonized. More important, the Atlantic colonies of northern Europe were, with the exception of the Danish West Indies, incorporated into larger European empires. This has meant that the history of the small colonies of northern Europe often appears unimportant by comparison to the larger, later imperial histories of other parts of the Atlantic world. In general, the historical and scholarly developments outlined here explain why the historiography of northern Europe and the Atlantic world cannot be characterized as an integrated field in which different interpretations coexist and compete. Rather, historical studies have relied on international trends in colonial history and, more recently, in Atlantic history for interpretative models and frameworks.

Reference Works and Bibliographies

There are few specific reference works and bibliographies on the study of northern Europe and the Atlantic world. The best research method is therefore to track references in the notes of reliable works in the field. For research produced by northern European scholars, there is also the digitalized national historical bibliographies for Denmark, Dansk Historisk Bibliografi; for Norway, Norsk Historisk Bibliografi; for Sweden, Svensk Historisk Bibliografi; and for Finland, Fennica. Moreover, literature concerning the Danish West Indies is presented in Highfield and Tyson 1994 and by the website Virgin Island History, which also introduces archival sources concerning the Danish West Indies and West Africa. The comprehensive bibliography in Justesen 2005 is the best place to begin locating literature about Danish trade and settlement in West Africa. Information on the colony of New Sweden as well as the later Swedish presence in North America can be found in the annual bibliographies of the Swedish-American Historical Quarterly. The website Mémoire St Barth provides a fairly comprehensive bibliography on diverse aspects of the history of St. Barthélemy.

  • Dansk Historisk Bibliografi.

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    Contains work in Danish and other languages concerning Danish history (in a wide sense) from the Viking age to the present. It covers the periods 1831–1947, 1967–1976, and 1990 onward.

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    • Fennica.

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      Contains references to publications printed in Finnish and other material relating to Finland. Books and periodicals date back to 1488. Articles can be found in Arto, which indexes Finnish journals from 1990 on. For earlier references, one must consult the published Finnish historical bibliographies (see Suomen historiallinen bibliografia, Suomen historiallinen seura, 1940–1992) that cover the period 1544–1990.

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      • Highfield, Arnold R., and George F. Tyson. Slavery in the Danish West Indies: A Bibliography. St. Croix: Virgin Islands Humanities Council, 1994.

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        A comprehensive bibliography organized thematically. The bibliography complements Virgin Islands History. In particular the listing of contemporary printed material and references to early unpublished work is valuable.

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      • Justesen, Ole, ed. Danish Sources for the History of Ghana, 1657–1754. 2 vols. Translated by James Manley. Fontes Historiae Africanae 8.2. Copenhagen: Det Kongelige Danske Videnskabernes Selskab, 2005.

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        Instead of an actual bibliography, this work contains in Volume 2 a thorough list of literature about the Danish presence on the Gold Coast and encounters with West African societies during the precolonial period. The work also contains illustrative maps. Volume 1 spans the years 1657–1754; Volume 2 the years 1735–1754.

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      • Mémoire St Barth.

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        A site in French containing entries on the history of St. Barthélemy. The site provides a bibliography covering the history of the island and introductions to archival holdings (in France and Sweden) about the period of Swedish rule.

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      • Norsk Historisk Bibliografi.

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        Contains work about Norway’s history in Norwegian and other languages published between 1980 and 1997. Earlier work must be sought in the published bibliographies that go back to 1916. For the later periods, material can be located through the national databases for articles and books, both available to subscribers only.

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        • Svensk Historisk Bibliografi.

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          Contains work in Swedish and other languages. The focus is, as the title implies, Swedish history (in a wide sense) from the Viking age to the present. It covers the period 1977 onward. Earlier work must be sought in the published bibliographies (see Svensk historisk bibliografi: Systematisk förteckning över skrifter och uppsatser som röra Sveriges historia, Svenska historika föreningen, 1937–1985) that cover the period 1771–1976.

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          • Swedish-American Historical Quarterly.

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            Has issued annual bibliographies since 1978. These contain a wide range of entries, some of which fall within the traditional bounds of Atlantic history. It is a good place to survey the state of research on Swedish North American history.

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          • Virgin Islands History.

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            Contains registers of the main record groups concerning the Danish West Indies (and the Gold Coast) in the Danish National Archives and bibliographical entries on major themes in Danish West Indian history. Does not cover literature published after 2002. The site is also published as Erik Gøbel, A Guide to Sources for the History of the Danish West Indies (U.S. Virgin Islands), 1671–1917 (Odense: University Press of Southern Denmark, 2002).

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            Primary Sources

            There are plenty of rich and interesting primary sources concerning the Danish-Norwegian and Swedish involvement in the Atlantic world. Most published works are for obvious reasons in Scandinavian languages, but a steadily growing number is being translated. Vivid impressions of the interaction between relatively weak northern European settlements and trading posts and their neighboring communities in the 17th and early 18th centuries can be found in the writings of Johan Risingh, governor of New Sweden, provided in Dahlgren and Norman 1988, and in the numerous reports and letters of local Danish officials on the Gold Coast, provided in Justesen 2005. The mid-18th-century diaries of the two disciples of the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus, Kalm 2008 (written 1747–1753) and Rolander 2007 (written 1754–1756) are important examples of the scientific explorations of the Atlantic world in which northern Europeans took part. Both diaries also provide fine descriptions of American peoples and societies. The Danish West Indian slave society is presented in Haagensen 1995 (originally published 1757), which gives an up-and-coming planter’s perspective on the development of slavery and sugar production in St. Croix. Oldendorp 2000–2002 (originally written in the late 1760s) provides a unique description of a Caribbean slave society because of his close interactions with and observations of Africans and Afro-Caribbeans. A prominent Danish proslavery voice is presented in West 2004 (originally published 1791 and 1793), whereas the official Danish abolitionist policy, developed in a closed circle of royal officials, is presented in Gøbel 2008. In contrast, Wadström 1789 provides a fine example of a Swedish romantic antislavery voice that reached beyond northern Europe and played a role in the British abolitionist debate.

            • Dahlgren, Stellan, and Hans Norman. The Rise and Fall of New Sweden: Governor Johan Risingh’s Journal 1654–1655 in Its Historical Context. Translated by Marie Clark Nelson. Acta Bibliothecae R. Universitatis Upsaliensis 27. Uppsala, Sweden: Almqvist and Wiksell International, 1988.

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              Introduction to and annotated transcription of the manuscripts written by the last governor of New Sweden. The Swedish original is provided with an English translation.

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            • Gøbel, Erik. Det danske slavehandelsforbud 1792: Studier og kilder til forhistorien, forordningen og følgerne. University of Southern Denmark Studies in History and Social Sciences 366. Odense, Denmark: Syddansk Universitetsforlag, 2008.

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              Contains an annotated transcription of the edict of 16 March 1792 abolishing the Danish transatlantic slave trade by 1 January 1803 and of the commission report and other documents that led to the edict. An English translation of the edict is in Gøbel’s “The Danish Edict of 16th March 1792 to Abolish the Slave Trade,” in The Atlantic Slave Trade, vol. 4, edited by Jeremy Black, 1–13 (Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2006).

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            • Haagensen, Reimert. Description of the Island of St. Croix in America in the West Indies. Translated by Arnold R. Highfield. Documentary Sources in Danish West Indian and US Virgin Islands History. St. Croix: Virgin Islands Humanities Council, 1995.

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              Originally published in 1758. Describes the formative years of the Crucian slave society. The author, Reimert Haagensen, probably arrived in the Danish West Indies as a boy or young man and managed to establish himself as a planter. His book reflects a planter’s concern with social order.

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            • Justesen, Ole, ed. Danish Sources for the History of Ghana, 1657–1754. 2 vols. Translated by James Manley. Fontes Historiae Africanae 8.2. Copenhagen: Det Kongelige Danske Videnskabernes Selskab, 2005.

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              Selection and translation of documents drafted by the Danish officials at the forts on the Gold Coast. Priority has been given to material providing information about Ghanaian societies. It is a good place to begin research on early encounters between Danes and the people of the Gold Coast.

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            • Kalm, Pehr. “Pehr Kalm’s Travel Diary of the Journey to North America 1747.” In The Linnaeus Apostles: Global Science and Adventure; Europe, North and South America; Kalm. Vol. 3, Bk. 1–2. Edited by Lars Hansen. Translated by Peter Hogg. London: IK Foundation, 2008.

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              Kalm traveled to North America to identify plants that might grow in Scandinavia. He describes former New Sweden, but mostly his journal is an important example of the scientific explorations by northern Europeans in the Americas. This edition contains Kalm’s published works (see Internet Archive) supplemented with translations of his manuscript travel diary.

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            • Oldendorp, Christian Georg Andreas. Historie der Caribischen Inseln Sanct Thomas, Sanct Crux und Sanct Jan. Kommentierte Edition des Originalmanskriptes. 4 vols. Edited by Hartmut Beck, Gudrun Meir, Stephan Palmié, Aart H. van Soest, Peter Stein, and Horst Ulbricht. Abhandlungen und Berichte des Staatlichen Museums für Völkerkunde Dresden, Monographien 9.1. Berlin: Verlag für Wissenschaft und Bildung, 2000–2002.

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              Annotated transcription of the complete manuscript of the Moravian mission inspector Oldendorp. Extraordinary descriptions and interviews with Africans of different ethnic designation. An abridged English substitute is A. R. Highfield and V. Barac, eds. and trans., C. G. A. Oldendorp’s History of the Mission of the Evangelical Brethren on the Caribbean Islands of St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John (Ann Arbor, MI: Karoma, 1987).

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            • Rolander, Daniel. “The Suriname Journal: Composed during an Exotic Journey.” In The Linnaeus Apostles: Global Science and Adventure; Europe, North and South America, Pehr Löfling and Daniel Rolander. Vol. 3, Bk. 3. Translated by translated by James Dobreff, Claes Dahlman, David Morgan, and Joseph Tipton. Edited by Lars Hansen. London: IK Foundation, 2007.

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              In addition to botanical observations, the diary of Daniel Rolander, a Linnaean disciple who visited Suriname in the 1750s, contains exceptional accounts of the life of Amerindians and of Africans and their descendants. This Latin manuscript has not been widely known to scholars, as this is the first time it is translated and published.

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            • Wadström, Carl Bernhard. Observations on the Slave Trade and a Description of Some Part of the Coast of Guinea during a Voyage, Made in 1787, and 1788, in Company with Doctor A. Sparrman and Captain Arrehenius. London: James Phillips, 1789.

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              An important example of how northern Europeans could engage in the Atlantic world although they did not represent strong imperial states. Wadström involved himself in the British and French antislavery movements and promoted colonization of Africa.

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            • West, Hans. Hans West’s Accounts of St. Croix in the West Indies. Translated by Nina York. Edited by Arnold R. Highfield. Documentary Sources in Danish West Indian and US Virgin Islands History. St. Thomas: Virgin Islands Humanities Council, 2004.

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              Originally published 1791 and 1793. Translated and annotated edition of two descriptions of St. Croix from the 1790s by Hans West. In his works West develops a romantic defense of the Danish West Indian planters. West’s works are some of the most important proslavery texts published in Danish. Can be compared with Wadström 1789.

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            Historiographical Debates

            The historiography of northern expansion in the Atlantic world has not been subject to much debate. In Denmark and Norway historians and anthropologists have discussed the contemporary meaning of writing colonial history and whose perspectives are to be included in such history (Jensen, et al. 1983, “Debat”, Simonsen 2003). In Sweden and Finland historians have been particularly attentive to the parallels between expansion into the homeland of the Saami people in northern Scandinavia and colonial expansion in the Atlantic, in particular the colony of New Sweden (Fur 1999). A common debate among historians of northern Europe concerning the region’s involvement in the world of European expansion has just begun, centering on questions of colonial romanticism (Brimnes, et al. 2009 and Olwig 2003) and the lack of institutional support for such research (Amirell 2006).

            • Amirell, Stefan Eklöf. “Den internationella historiens uppgång och fall: Trender inom svensk internationell historieforskning 1950–2005.” Historisk Tidskrift 126.2 (2006): 257–278.

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              Not strictly focusing on Atlantic history, the article shows that non-European history has not been well represented at Swedish universities. The article started a debate in the Swedish Historisk Tidskrift (Historical journal) concerning the place of transnational history in Swedish academia. There is a short English summary.

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            • Brimnes, Niels, Pernille Ipsen, and Gunvor Simonsen, eds. Special Issue: Scandinavian Colonialism. Itinerario 33.2 (2009).

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              The introduction by Ipsen and Gunlög Fur argues that northern European colonial history is struggling, on the one hand, with national historical traditions and, on the other, with formulating interpretations of the particular historical experience of small colonial states and their peoples. The volume highlights the role of nonstate actors, such as missionaries, in northern Europe’s involvement in colonial expansion.

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            • “Debat.” Fortid og nutid 32 (1985): 68–78.

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              The publication of Jensen, et al. 1983 provoked strong criticism from historians and anthropologists. Concern was voiced with the tendency among Danish historians to focus on Danish actors. Instead, critiques argued, Danish colonial history ought to pay attention to the groups colonized or enslaved by Danes.

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            • Fur, Gunlög. “Ädla vildar, grymma barbarer och postmoderna historier.” Historisk Tidskrift 119.4 (1999): 637–653.

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              Discusses the exclusion of the Saamis and North American Indians from the discipline of history in Sweden. Fur calls on Swedish historians to begin a debate about their historical practice to secure a sharper focus on the otherwise muted Swedish colonial past. There is an English summary.

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            • Jensen, Peter Hoxcer, Leif Haar, Morten Hahn-Pedersen, Kaare Ulrich Jessen, and Aksel Damsgaard-Madsen, eds. Dansk kolonihistorie: Indføring og studier. Århus, Sweden: Historia, 1983.

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              Provides an introduction to Danish colonial history in which it is argued that colonial history has been written with little interest for the people colonized or enslaved. This is followed by a number of articles that cannot be said to offer an alternative to the approach criticized initially. The work initiated a debate concerning the relevance of Danish colonial history; see “Debat”.

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            • Olwig, Karen Fog. “Narrating Deglobalization: Danish Perceptions of a Lost Empire.” Global Networks 3.3 (2003): 207–222.

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              Focuses on contemporary popular perceptions of the Danish West Indies. Olwig argues that the Danish national self-understanding supports a presentation of the Danish West Indian past in which the subjugation of Africans is either muted or belittled. It is a good place to gain an understanding of the peculiar type of colonial memorizing found in Denmark.

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            • Simonsen, Gunvor. “Nye og gamle perspektiver på dansk kolonihistorie.” 1066—Tidsskrift for Historie 2 (2003): 3–13.

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              Short analysis of Danish colonial history that documents that Danish colonial historiography follows the models and trends of international research on colonialism, although with some delay. Simonsen suggests that inspiration for renewal can be found in the theoretical and methodological contributions made by postcolonial studies.

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            Chartered Companies

            The role played by chartered companies in the expansion of northern European trade and colonization in the Atlantic world has received quite some attention. The companies have primarily been analyzed as trading agents and economic institutions. Other subthemes, such as their role in establishing colonial rule or, for that matter, the particular outlook emerging among personnel engaged in long-distance trade, have received less attention, though there are some exceptions to this general picture. Thus Dahlgren and Norman 1988 investigates the New Sweden Company, and Westergaard 1917 examines how the Danish West India Company (from 1674 the Danish West India and Guinea Company) colonized and governed in the Caribbean. The Swedish company trading with Africa is analyzed in Nováky 1990, and a presentation of the Brandenburg Africa Company is in Schmitt 1981. Although the Danish chartered companies had a longer duration and resulted in lasting colonization, they have not yet been treated in monographic form, only in a number of articles. The most important of these are Gøbel 1980, Gøbel 1983, Gøbel 1993, and Feldbæk 1986.

            • Dahlgren, Stellan, and Hans Norman. The Rise and Fall of New Sweden: Governor Johan Risingh’s Journal 1654–1655 in Its Historical Context. Acta Bibliothecae R. Universitatis Upsaliensis 27. Uppsala, Sweden: Almqvist and Wiksell International, 1988.

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              In chapter 1 Dahlgreen analyzes the role of the New Sweden Company in the establishment and development of the colonial settlement of New Sweden in North America.

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            • Feldbæk, Ole. “The Danish Trading Companies of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries.” Scandinavian Economic History Review 34.3 (1986): 204–218.

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              Analyzes the high number of Danish chartered trading companies, looking at which companies were operating and where they were active. Makes the point that in the transatlantic trade shipping was mostly carried out by private traders, whereas the West India and Guinea Company focused on sugar production and refining.

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            • Gøbel, Erik. “Danske oversøiske handelskompagnier i 17. og 18. århundrede. En forskningsoversigt.” Fortid og Nutid 28.4 (1980): 535–569.

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              Provides a survey of the research on Danish chartered companies up to 1980. Gøbel argues that research has tended to avoid comprehensive synthesis, a point that is still valid in the sense that a monograph on the Danish companies has yet to appear.

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            • Gøbel, Erik. “Danish Trade to the West Indies and Guinea, 1671–1754.” Scandinavian Economic History Review 31.1 (1983): 21–49.

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              Examines the trade of the Danish West India and Guinea Company, focusing on cargo, shipping routes, and economic profitability. Interestingly, Gøbel shows that the majority of vessels under Danish flag sailed directly between ports in Denmark-Norway, in practice Copenhagen, and the Danish West Indies.

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            • Gøbel, Erik. “The Danish Trading Companies, Their Organization, Trade, and Shipping, 1681–1807.” In The Danish Presence and Legacy in the Virgin Islands. Edited by Svend E. Holsoe and John H. McCollum, 1–16. Frederiksted, St. Croix: St. Croix Landmarks Society, 1993.

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              A short outline of the different Danish chartered companies trading in the Atlantic. The article provides a chronological survey of the companies and examines how they conducted their trade. It is a good place for a fast, initial impression of the chartered companies.

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            • Nováky, György. Handelskompanier och kompanihandel: Svenska Afrikakompaniet 1649–1663; En studie i feodal handel. Studia Historica Upsaliensia 159. Uppsala, Sweden: Almqvist and Wiksell International, 1990.

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              Provides the main contours of the history of the Swedish Africa Company (1649–1663). Focus is on the institutional history of the company, though a few chapters treat the interaction between the company’s officials and West African elites. So far it is the only monographical treatment of this company. There is an English summary.

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            • Schmitt, Eberhard. “The Brandenburg Overseas Trading Companies in the 17th Century.” In Companies and Trade. Edited by L. Blussé and F. Gaastra, 159–176. Comparative Studies in Overseas History 3. Leiden, The Netherlands: Leiden University Press, 1981.

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              A short presentation of the Brandenburg Africa Company, which imported enslaved Africans to the Danish West Indian island St. Thomas at the end of the 17th century. Focus is on the organization of the company and its ability to conduct trade.

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            • Westergaard, Waldemar. The Danish West Indies under Company Rule (1671–1754). New York: Macmillan, 1917.

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              Has now for the most part been superseded by newer research. However, it is still of some worth because of the detailed description of the first eighty years of colonization of the Danish West Indies. There is a supplementary chapter on 1755–1917.

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            The Slave Trade

            Among the northern European states engaged in the slave trade, Denmark-Norway was involved in the transport of the largest number of Africans by far. The volume and composition of the transatlantic slave trade conducted under Danish flag or from the Danish forts and lodges along the eastern Gold Coast has been documented in Hernæs 1995. Green-Pedersen 1971 and Green-Pedersen 1975 have also made significant contributions, focusing mainly on the West Indian side of the slave trade. A fine study of one Danish-Norwegian slaver is in Svalesen 2000. The cultural implication of the slave trade is discussed in the anthology Tyson and Highfield 1994. Little research has been done on the Swedish slave trade, although Weiss 2010 provides an overview. The trade of the German principalities of Courtland and Brandenburg, which was relatively large at the end of the 17th century, is also presented in Weiss 2010.

            • Green-Pedersen, Svend Erik. “The Scope and Structure of the Danish Negro Trade.” Scandinavian Economic History Review 19.2 (1971): 149–197.

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              The Danish slave trade is analyzed from three angles (imports to St. Croix, transit sale in St. Thomas, and the triangular trade). Of particular interest for further research are the detailed information about the volume of the trade and the Danish ships that carried slaves across the Atlantic.

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            • Green-Pedersen, Svend Erik. “The History of the Danish Negro Slave Trade, 1733–1807: An Interim Survey Relating in Particular to Its Volume, Structure and Profitability, and Abolition.” Revue Française d’histoire d’Outre-Mer 62 (1975): 196–220.

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              Presents estimates of the volume of the Danish slave trade and argues that this trade must be understood as multinational, since actors from many European nations participated. Green-Pedersen concludes that sugar was very important to the Danish-Norwegian trade but less so to the economy in general.

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            • Hernæs, Per O. Slaves, Danes, and African Coast Society: The Danish Slave Trade from West Africa and Afro-Danish Relations on the Eighteenth-Century Gold Coast. Trondheim Studies in History 6. Trondheim, Norway: University of Trondheim, 1995.

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              Provides (in Parts 3 and 4) a thorough analysis of the Danish slave trade out of Africa. The work covers the entire period from 1660 to 1806 and discusses the influence of the slave trade versus trade in gold, ivory, and agricultural products on the West African societies involved.

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            • Svalesen, Leif. The Slave Ship Fredensborg: The 18th Century Danish-Norwegian Slave Trade. Translated by Pat Shaw and Selena Winsnes. Kingston, Jamaica: Ian Randle, 2000.

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              Originally published 1996. Follows a single ship, Fredensborg, from its construction and outfitting as a slaver to its triangular route, involving slave purchase and sale. It pays particular attention to the artifacts excavated from the wreck of the Fredensborg when it was discovered in 1974.

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            • Tyson, George F., and Arnold R. Highfield, eds. The Danish West Indian Slave Trade: Virgin Islands Perspectives. St. Croix: Virgin Islands Humanities Council, 1994.

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              Introduces the question of cultural transfer from Africa to the Danish West Indies and thus moves beyond a focus on “numbers.” Of particular value is Svend E. Holsoe’s examination of the origin of enslaved Africans and Sandra E. Greene’s study of the Akwamus in the rebellion on St. John in 1733. This perspective is further elaborated in Sebro 2010 (see The Danish West Indies).

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            • Weiss, Holger. “Danskar och svenskar i den atlantiske slavhandeln, 1650–1850.” In Global historia från periferin. Edited by Göran Rydén, Holger Weiss, and Leos Müller, 39–73. Lund, Sweden: Studentlitteratur, 2010.

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              Provides a good survey of the involvement of Denmark-Norway, Sweden, Courtland, and Brandenburg in the slave trade and shows how the geopolitical positions of these states conditioned the way they participated in the Atlantic world. The essay also pinpoints lacunae in the research, particularly concerning the Swedish slave trade and slavery.

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            Abolition

            The Danish-Norwegian double monarchy was the first European slave-trading nation to abolish the transatlantic slave trade. This happened with the edict of 16 March 1792, which announced the abolition of the trade by 1 January 1803. The considerations behind the edict were primarily developed by a royally appointed commission on the slave trade. The background and reasons behind the edict have been dealt with in Gøbel 2008, Green-Pedersen 1975, Degn 1974, and Trier 1904; whereas Johansen 1981 has attempted to put into perspective the arguments forwarded by pro-abolitionists by studying the Danish West Indian population with modern demographic methods. The role played by humanitarian ideas versus economic calculation is still a point of debate among historians. Some studies, such as Degn 1974 and Trier 1904, emphasize the humanitarian sentiments of the main figure, Minister of Finance Ernst Schimmelmann, while others, such as Green-Pedersen 1975, stress the role of economic calculations, and others again, for instance Johansen 1981, focus on social and economic consequences of the edict in the Danish West Indies. So far, the abolition of the Swedish slave trade in 1813 has not received similar attention, although the involvement of a number of Swedes in the international abolitionist movement has been analyzed in Coleman 2005.

            • Coleman, Deirdre. Romantic Colonization and British Anti-Slavery. Cambridge Studies in Romanticism 61. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

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              Chapter 2, “The ‘Microscope of Enthusiasm’: Swedenborgian Ideas about Africa,” contains an analysis of the works of the abolitionist Bernhard Carl Wadström (see Wadström 1789, cited under Primary Sources). The piece is a good place to get a sense of the trans-imperial trajectories of northern Europeans who did not have an empire of their own.

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            • Degn, Christian. Die Schimmelmanns im atlantischen Dreieckshandel: Gewinn und Gewissen. Neumünster, Germany: Karl Wachholtz Verlag, 1974.

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              Analyzes the role played by Minister of Finance Ernst Schimmelmann in the abolition of the Danish slave trade. As the subtitle indicates, focus is on the interplay between economic interest and humanist ideas in the actions of Schimmelmann. Degn tends to favor the latter.

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            • Gøbel, Erik. Det danske slavehandelsforbud 1792: Studier og kilder til forhistorien, forordningen og følgerne. University of Southern Denmark Studies in History and Social Sciences 366. Odense, Denmark: Syddansk Universitetsforlag, 2008.

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              In a substantial introduction, Gøbel analyzes the events preceding the Danish abolition edict of 1792 and its consequences. Whereas earlier interpretations of the edict have tended to favor either humanist Enlightenment ideas or economic factors, Gøbel elegantly argues that these were seen as compatible by the contemporary Danish actors.

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            • Green-Pedersen, Svend E. “The Economic Considerations behind the Danish Abolition of the Negro Slave Trade.” In The Uncommon Market: Essays in the Economic History of the Atlantic Slave Trade. Edited by Henry A. Gemery and Jan S. Hogendorn, 399–418. New York: Academic Press, 1975.

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              Outlines the main points of disagreement over the interpretation of the Danish abolition of the slave trade and takes issue with the interpretation presented in Degn 1974. Green-Pedersen argues that demographic reform plans convinced Danish policy makers that abolition was possible without damaging production in the Danish West Indies.

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            • Johansen, Hans Christian. “The Reality behind the Demographic Argument to Abolish the Danish Slave Trade.” In The Abolition of the Atlantic Slave Trade: Origins and Effects in Europe, Africa, and the Americas. Edited by David Eltis and James Walvin, 221–230. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1981.

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              Forwards the argument that the Danish commission on the slave trade did not understand the true reasons behind the declining slave population in the West Indies, and therefore planters, whether they wanted or not, were not able to adopt measures that would stimulate population growth.

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            • Trier, C. A. “Det Dansk-Vestindiske Negerindførselsforbud Af 1792.” Historisk Tidsskrift 5 (1904): 405–508.

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              The first thorough examination of the abolition of the Danish slave trade. Humanist sentiments are presented as the driving force behind abolition. The article provides a fine survey of the reformatory ideas and the opposition to abolition that emerged after the abolition edict of 1792.

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            Trading Establishments in West Africa

            Most of the work done on the presence of northern European states and people on the Gold Coast, now Ghana, concerns the Danish forts and lodges. Some work has been done on the Brandenburg establishments on the coast and little on the short Swedish presence in precolonial West Africa. Many Scandinavian historians interested in precolonial Ghana have published findings in the journal Transactions of the Historical Society of Ghana. The literature on the Danish (and other northern) establishments in West Africa can roughly be said to engage with two sets of questions. One set is concerned with Denmark as a colonial power, that is, the policies envisioned and adopted, the administration of the trading stations, and the trade conducted (Nørregård 1966, van der Heyden 1993, Hopkins 2009). The other set of questions concerns the encounter between Danish subjects (often of mixed European origin) and Ga and Akan people on the coast and the history of these peoples as such (Feldbæk and Justesen 1980, Justesen 2000, Justesen 2003, Hernæs 1995).

            • Feldbæk, Ole, and Ole Justesen. Kolonierne i Asien Og Afrika. Danmarks Historie. Copenhagen: Politikens Forlag, 1980.

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              The second part of this work, by Ole Justesen, is a broad presentation of the Danish presence in West Africa that concentrates on the interaction with various West African states and political figures. As such, the work departs from a tradition of focusing mostly on Danish administration and trade. Good as an introduction.

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            • Hernæs, Per O. Slaves, Danes, and African Coast Society: The Danish Slave Trade from West Africa and Afro-Danish Relations on the Eighteenth-Century Gold Coast. Trondheim Studies in History 6. Trondheim, Norway: University of Trondheim, Department of History, 1995.

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              The first half of the monograph analyzes the society that developed out of the encounter between Danes and the Ada, arguing that African-European relations were transactional in nature. Both parties sought to maximize advantages according to perceived gains and often departed from customary practices.

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            • Hopkins, Daniel P. “Peter Thorning, the Guinea Commission, and Denmark’s Postabolition African Colonial Policy, 1803–1850.” William and Mary Quarterly 66.4 (2009): 781–808.

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              Examines Danish plans for establishing plantations in West Africa. The main focus is on the development of a colonial vision among Danish colonial officers that drew on the Atlantic experiences of plantation production. A good place for beginners to learn about the changes wrought by the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.

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            • Justesen, Ole. “The Negotiations for Peace in the Gold Coast 1826 to 1831.” Transactions of the Historical Society of Ghana 4–5 (2000): 1–54.

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              Shows that although Asante and Britain were the two dominate powers on the Gold Coast, political dynamics can only be understood if smaller powers, among them the Danish administration and important merchants in the town of Osu (adjacent to Denmark’s headquarters, Fort Christiansborg) are also included in the analysis.

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            • Justesen, Ole. “Henrich Richter 1785–1849: Trader and Politician in the Danish Settlements on the Gold Coast.” Transactions of the Historical Society of Ghana 7 (2003): 93–192.

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              Demonstrates the ability of elite members of the group of Euro-Africans to influence the Danish policy. Raises questions about the formation of a distinct urban identity among the inhabitants of Osu (adjacent to Denmark’s headquarters, Fort Christiansborg) and the group’s ability to act as a political unit.

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            • Nørregård, Georg. Danish Settlements in West Africa, 1658–1850. Translated by Sigurd Mammen. Boston: Boston University Press, 1966.

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              Originally published 1952–1953, this is the most detailed empirical study of the Danish administration and trade on the coast, with some passages concerning Gold Coast peoples and politics. However, as pointed out by Ivor Wilks, utmost care must be taken in relation to those parts of the book dealing with African culture, society, and politics.

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            • Transactions of the Historical Society of Ghana.

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              This journal contains a number of articles on the Danish-Ghanaian relations from the 17th to the 19th centuries.

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            • van der Heyden, Ulrich. Rote Adler an Afrikas Küste: Die Brandenburgisch-Preuβische Kolonie Groβfriedrichbrug an Der Westafrikanischen Küste. Berlin: Brandenburgisches Verlagshaus, 1993.

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              A popular presentation of the colonial ambitions and activities of the duchy of Brandenburg. Although some elements are outdated, the reader gets a fine description of the Brandenburg Africa Company, the life around Fort Groβfriedrichsburg, and the slave trade the company conducted with the Danish West Indies. Translated into English as Red Eagles on Africa’s Coast (Kingston, Jamaica: Ian Randle, 2003).

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            The Danish West Indies

            A general introduction to the history of the Danish West Indies (as well as the other Danish-Norwegian tropical colonies) is provided in Brøndsted 1966–1967. This work, although it is surpassed methodologically and theoretically by newer studies, is still important because of its wide documentary basis. A general overview in English is provided in Dookhan 1974. More recent studies of the slave society in the Danish West Indies can be said to concentrate on three interrelated questions. One question, pursued in Hall 1992, Olsen 2001, and Jensen 1998, concerns the constraints established to subjugate and control Africans and Afro-Caribbeans. A second question deals with the way enslaved people and freedpeople actively negotiated the terms of their suppression and achieved some degree of control over their own lives (Sensbach 2005 in particular, as well as Jensen 2009). Finally, there is the question of cultural continuity and change for Africans, Europeans, and their descendants in the Danish West Indies. Here the historiography follows the trends of international scholarship. Thus Olwig 1985 concentrates on the Creole nature of African and Afro-Caribbean slave life, whereas Sebro 2010 focuses on the ability of enslaved Africans and their descendants to reproduce and reinvent African cultural elements.

            • Brøndsted, Johannes, ed. Vore Gamle Tropekolonier. 2d ed. 8 vols. Copenhagen: Fremad, 1966–1967.

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              Originally published 1952–1953. Covering the whole period of Danish rule, Volumes 1–4 give a comprehensive presentation of Danish West Indian history. Above all, focus is on the administrative and institutional aspects of the colonies, while the sections on, for instance, “the conditions of the slaves” are much less comprehensive.

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            • Dookhan, Isaac. A History of the Virgin Islands of the United States. St. Thomas, Virgin Islands: Caribbean Universities Press, 1974.

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              Presents the history of the US Virgin Islands from the pre-Columbian period until the 1960s; however, the main focus is on the Danish period. Although mainly based on older Danish work, such as Brøndsted 1966–1967, the book focuses on the formation of the society of the US Virgin Islands, in particular the role played by the Afro-Caribbean population.

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            • Hall, Neville A. T. Slave Society in the Danish West Indies: St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix. Mona, Jamaica: University of the West Indies Press, 1992.

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              This is a must for anyone studying slavery in the Danish West Indies. It deals mostly with St. Croix, 1755–1848, and combines thorough knowledge of general Caribbean historiography with detailed archival investigations. The central focus of the work is the dynamic of oppression and resistance played out in the Danish West Indian slave society.

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            • Jensen, Peter Hoxcer. From Serfdom to Fireburn and Strike: The History of Black Labor in the Danish West Indies, 1848–1916. Christiansted, St. Croix: Antilles, 1998.

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              This posthumously published MA thesis, translated into English, is one of the only monographs dealing exclusively with the immediate postemancipation period in the Danish West Indies. Focus is on sugar production and labor conditions. The argument is that falling world sugar prices were the main reason for the decline of the Crucian economy in the period.

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            • Jensen, Niklas Thode. “‘For the Benefit of the Planters and the Benefit of Mankind’: The Struggle to Control Midwives and Obstetrics on St. Croix, Danish West Indies, 1800–1848.” In Health and Medicine in the Circum-Caribbean, 1800–1968. Edited by Juanita De Barros, Steven Palmer, and David Wright, 19–39. Routledge Studies in the Social History of Medicine 33. New York: Routledge, 2009.

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              Gives a good impression of the reforms of the early-19th-century Danish West Indies. The article argues that midwifery emerged to tackle the problem of postabolition reproduction on St. Croix but turned out to be a contested field in which none of the parties involved could fully determine the outcome.

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            • Olsen, Poul Erik. “Fra ejendomsret til menneskeret.” In Fra slaveri til frihed: Det dansk-vestindiske slavesamfund 1672–1848. Edited by Per Nielsen, 25–52. Copenhagen: Nationalmuseet, 2001.

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              Examines the formulation of slave legislation in the Danish West Indies from the early 18th century up to the period of so-called amelioration. Although not comprehensive, the article provides a good introduction to the legal history of the Danish West Indies.

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            • Olwig, Karen Fog. Cultural Adaptation and Resistance on St. John: Three Centuries of Afro-Caribbean Life. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1985.

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              A good presentation of the history of St. John. Particular attention is paid to the role of provision grounds and crop production as well as family and household networks in the shaping and reproduction of the Johnian cultural community.

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            • Sebro, Louise. Mellem afrikaner og kreol: Etnisk identitet og social navigation i Dansk Vestindien, 1730–1770. Lund, Sweden: Lunds Universitet, 2010.

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              Analyzes the presence and role of African cultural elements, such as ethnic designations, language, and religion, in the formation of social identities and networks among Africans and their descendants in the Danish West Indies. An English summary is included.

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            • Sensbach, Jon F. Rebecca’s Revival: Creating Black Christianity in the Atlantic World. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005.

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              A microhistorical study of the life of the Moravian freedwoman Rebecca Freundlich (later Protten). An important argument made by Sensbach is that evangelical Christianity in the Americas began with the Moravian mission in the marginal island of St. Thomas in the Danish West Indies.

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            Swedish St. Barthélemy

            The period 1784/1785–1878, during which the Caribbean island St. Barthélemy was under Swedish rule, has not received much attention from historians. It is particularly striking that little has been done on slaves and their descendants, though this is changing—see Lavoie, et al. 1995 and Mayer and Fick 1993. An overview of many aspects of St. Barthélemy’s history can be obtained through the website Mémoire St Barth. In rough outline, the first two decades of the administrative history of the island are presented in Hildebrand 1951. Waller 1954 is a fine overview and discussion of St. Barthélemy’s economic role. A detailed church history focusing on the denominational plurality of St. Barthélemy is presented in Hellström 1987. One reason why the history of St. Barthélemy has received relatively little attention from Swedish historians may be that much of the archival material concerning the local colonial administration of Barthélemy only reappeared in the 1960s in Guadeloupe. It is now stored in the Archives d’Outre-Mer in Aix-en-Provence, France. Sjöström 2000 is one of the few contributions that use this material. Another reason is that Swedes and Swedish culture never played a major role in shaping the society of St. Barthélemy.

            • Hellström, Jan Arvid. “. . . Åt alla christliga förvanter. . .” En undersökning av kolonialförvaltning, religionsvård och samfundsliv på St Barthélemy under den svenska perioden 1784–1878. University of Uppsala Studies on Churches and Denominations. Uppsala, Sweden: Erene, 1987.

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              The main theme of the work is the relationship between the Swedish colonial state, economic conjectures, and the congregations in St. Barthélemy. Christianity among the Afro-Caribbean population is seldom mentioned, but attempts at including this group within the work can be found in the sections on the Methodist church.

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            • Hildebrand, Ingegerd. Den svenska kolonin St. Barthélemy och Västindiska kompaniet fram till 1796. Lund, Sweden: A.-B. Lindstedts Universitetsbokhandel, 1951.

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              This is still one of the only monographs treating the period of Swedish rule of St. Barthélemy. The work mainly deals with questions concerning colonial administration and trade. The enslaved population in St. Barthélemy is nearly absent from the presentation. The book contains a short English summary.

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            • Lavoie, Yolande, Carolyn Fick, and Francine-M. Mayer. “A Particular Study of Slavery in the Caribbean Island of Saint Barthelemy: 1648–1846.” Caribbean Studies 28.2 (1995): 369–403.

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              One of the few pieces that engages with the development and abolition of slavery in St. Barthélemy. The article provides a sketch of the demographic development of the population and presents significant events in the history of the island, such as the slave rebellion of 1736.

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            • Mayer, Francine M., and Carolyn E. Fick. “Before and after Emancipation: Slaves and Free Coloreds of Saint-Barthélemy (French West Indies) in the 19th Century.” Scandinavian Journal of History 18.4 (1993): 251–273.

              DOI: 10.1080/03468759308579261Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Provides a demographic analysis of the urban and rural slave and ex-slave populations, in particular focusing on the kind of kinship ties that existed between slaves and freedpeople and how households changed with emancipation.

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            • Mémoire St Barth.

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              This website contains thematic entries on the history of St. Barthélemy and extracts of primary sources, such as applications for and letters of freedom. A good, fast overview of the history of the island.

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              • Sjöström, Rolf. “The Swedish Model? Education in Saint-Barthélemy during the Nineteenth Century.” In Education and Colonialism: Swedish Schooling Projects in Colonial Areas, 1638–1878. Edited by Daniel Lindmark, 123–190. Kulturens Frontlinjer 29. Umeå, Sweden: Kulturgräns Norr, 2000.

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                Together with Hellström 1987, one of few Swedish contributions that use the archival material in Aix-en-Provence, France. Provides a short outline of the institutional development of schooling in St. Barthélemy and sketches the content and teaching methods employed for various groups of pupils, including slaves and ex-slaves.

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              • Waller, Sture. St Barthélemy 1785–1801: Yttre förhållanden; handelspolitisk och statsfinansiell betydelse. Historiskt Arkiv 1. Stockholm: Kungl. Vitterhets Historie och Antikvitetsakademien, 1954.

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                Revisits the argument that St. Barthélemy had little economic impact on Swedish trade and, by positioning the island in a larger international context, shows that it might have been more important than previous economic history has claimed. See also Müller 2004 (cited under Commerce and Consumption).

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              New Sweden

              Compared to Sweden’s possession in the Caribbean (see Swedish St. Barthélemy), the history of Swedish expansion, colonization, and presence in North America has received quite some attention from Swedish, Finnish, and American scholars alike. A good introduction is provided in Dahlgren and Norman 1988. Among historians of New Sweden a particular point of debate concerns the relation between Swedes/Finns and Delaware Indians. Some argue that there was a relatively harmonious relationship (Johnson 1911), others extend this point by arguing that the Swedish-Finnish migrants were instrumental in the creation of a particular syncretic backwoods culture (Jordan and Kaups 1989), while others again maintain that the relations between Swedish colonists and Delaware Indians may have been peaceful but for reasons other than the existence of a particular Swedish culture (Fur 2006 and Hoffecker, et al. 1995). The Swedish presence in North America after the takeover of New Sweden by the Dutch and later by the English is presented in Lindmark 2005, a work that serves to illustrate the place of European minorities in the overall picture of colonial American history.

              • Dahlgren, Stellan, and Hans Norman. The Rise and Fall of New Sweden: Governor Johan Risingh’s Journal 1654–1655 in Its Historical Context. Translated by Marie Clark Nelson. Acta Bibliothecae R. Universitatis Upsaliensis 27. Uppsala, Sweden: Almqvist and Wiksell International, 1988.

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                The introductory chapters provide fine surveys of the New Sweden Company, the role of the Swedish state in the colonization in North America, the establishment of the colony, its development, and its relations with other European powers and Native Americans in the Delaware region. A good place to begin.

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              • Fur, Gunlög. Colonialism in the Margins: Cultural Encounters in New Sweden and Lapland. Atlantic World 9. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2006.

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                Compares Swedish expansion and cultural encounters in Lapland and Delaware. The comparison allows Fur to argue that Sweden was a colonial power that aimed at establishing material and ideological control in both areas. Fur thereby succeeds in criticizing the idea of a peculiar benign form of Swedish colonialism.

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              • Hoffecker, Carol E., Richard Waldron, Lorraine E. Williams, and Barbara E. Benson, eds. New Sweden in America. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1995.

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                A good place for a first overall impression. Provides the first modern examination of New Sweden since Johnson 1911 and broadly introduces the major themes shaping the history of New Sweden and Swedish presence in North America. The chapter by C. A. Weslager foreshadows central themes in newer studies.

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              • Johnson, Amandus. The Swedish Settlements on the Delaware: Their History and Relation to the Indians, Dutch, and English 1638–1664. 2 vols. New York: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1911.

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                The first exhaustive study of the establishment and development of the colony of New Sweden. Many conclusions are now contested. However, the work is still important because Johnson in thorough detail presents the main events of the colony and thus provides avenues of further research.

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              • Jordan, Terry G., and Matti Kaups. The American Backwoods Frontier: An Ethnic and Ecological Interpretation. Creating the North American Landscape. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989.

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                Forwards the argument that American backwoods culture had important roots in the lifestyle of the eastern Finns. The meeting between eastern Finns and Delaware Indians is characterized as relatively peaceful, dominated by exchange and borrowing that led to the emergence of a peculiar backwoods culture.

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              • Lindmark, Daniel. Ecclesia Plantanda: Swedishness in Colonial America. Kulturens Frontlinjer 52. Umeå, Sweden: Kulturgräns Norr, 2005.

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                Provides a thorough analysis of the trajectory of Swedes and Swedishness after the surrender of New Sweden in 1655. Lindmark argues that Swedish ethnic identity was shaped to strategically promote the interests of the Swedish community in its encounter with other groups in colonial America.

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              Commerce and Consumption

              Apart from the establishment of colonies in the Americas and trading stations in West Africa, the history of northern Europe and the Atlantic world also includes the activities of a multitude of nonstate actors; some of the most important were the merchants and consumers of northern Europe. These groups have recently received renewed attention, in particular among Swedish and Norwegian historians. Whereas the 1970s and 1980s saw an interest in the chartered companies (see Chartered Companies), contemporary research examines the networks through which trade and consumption were channeled. Merchants and their networks have been studied in Evans and Rydén 2007 and Degn 1974. Colonial trade is emphasized in Müller 2004, Rönnbäck 2009, Gøbel 1990, and Sveistrup and Willerslev 1945. A relatively new development is the focus on consumption in Müller, et al. 2010, which provides historians of northern Europe an interesting narrative of the region’s integration into the Atlantic world.

              • Degn, Christian. Die Schimmelmanns im atlantischen Dreieckshandel: Gewinn und Gewissen. Neumünster, Germany: Karl Wachholtz Verlag, 1974.

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                This opus analyzes the involvement in the Atlantic world of the Schimmelmann family, probably the most important merchant clan in Denmark in the 18th century. The first half of the book concentrates on the establishment of the business empire by Heinrich Carl Schimmelmann. See also Abolition.

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              • Evans, Chris, and Göran Rydén. Baltic Iron in the Atlantic World in the Eighteenth Century. Atlantic World 13. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2007.

                DOI: 10.1163/ej.9789004161535.i-360Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                Concentrating on Sweden and Russia, the book broadens the field of Atlantic history to include commercial circuits that hitherto have not been understood as Atlantic in nature. The book demonstrates the integration of Swedish and Russian iron production, by way of Britain, in the Atlantic economy in the 18th century.

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              • Gøbel, Erik. “Volume and Structure of Danish Shipping to the Caribbean and Guinea, 1671–1838.” International Journal of Maritime History 2 (1990): 103–131.

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                Presents a comprehensive analysis of Danish transatlantic shipping (both during the company period and after) and concludes that it was of major importance to Copenhagen in particular. These findings suggest that transatlantic trade was a relatively important element of Danish trade and less important to British and Dutch shipping.

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              • Müller, Leos. Consuls, Corsairs, and Commerce: The Swedish Consular Service and Long-Distance Shipping, 1720–1815. Studia Historica Upsaliensia 213. Uppsala, Sweden: Uppsala Universitet, 2004.

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                The second half of the book concentrates on Swedish trade with and establishment of consular services in North America and the role of the Caribbean island St. Barthélemy. It is argued that neutrality made Sweden attractive to US traders, who used Sweden to connect with the Baltic iron market.

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              • Müller, Leos, Göran Rydén, and Holger Weiss, eds. Global Historia Från Periferin: Norden 1600–1850. Lund, Sweden: Studentlitteratur, 2010.

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                This anthology is, strictly speaking, concerned with northern Europe from a global perspective. However, a number of contributions illustrate how a focus on the consumption of Atlantic products, such as sugar, coffee, and rum, is a way of writing Atlantic history for regions that did not have strong colonial empires.

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              • Rönnbäck, Klas. Commerce and Colonisation: Studies of Early Modern Merchant Capitalism in the Atlantic Economy. Gothenburg Studies in Economic History 3. Göteborg, Sweden: University of Gothenburg School of Business, Economics, and Law, 2009.

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                The strength of this work lies in the author’s willingness to examine some of the “big” questions concerning the role of colonial trade for European economic growth rather than in the presentation of new empirical information. Rönnbäck’s publications on the sugar trade are available at the Gothenburg University Publications Electronic Archive.

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              • Sveistrup, P. P., and Richard Willerslev. Den danske sukkerhandels- og sukkerproduktions historie. Copenhagen: Nordisk Forlag, 1945.

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                The book examines sugar trade and sugar refining in Denmark-Norway from the 17th century to the 20th centuries. It provides valuable information on the volume of sugar imports, exports, and refining and demonstrates that sugar was very important in the economic life of Copenhagen in the 18th century.

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              LAST MODIFIED: 08/26/2011

              DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199730414-0129

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