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P.O. Box 561631*Miami, Fl 33256-1631*USA*Tel: 305-271-7246*Fax: 305-271-4160
ERIC WILLIAMS MEMORIAL COLLECTION CELEBRATES 5TH ANNIVERSARY
PORT OF SPAIN (March 17, 2003) March 22, 2003 will usher in the 5th anniversary of the
inauguration of the Eric Williams Memorial Collection (EWMC), by current US Secretary of
State, Colin L. Powell, at The University of the West Indies in Trinidad & Tobago. In 1999, it
was named to UNESCO's prestigious Memory of the World Register.
The Collection consists of the library and archives of the late Dr. Eric Eustace Williams,
renowned scholar and first Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago, whose sudden
death on March 29, 1981, after 25 years in office, stunned the region. Dr. Williams was heralded
by Gen. Powell as a tireless warrior in the battle against colonialism, among his many other
achievements as a scholar, politician and international statesman.
Available for consultation by researchers, the Collection amply reflects its owner's
eclectic interests, comprising some 7,000 volumes, as well as correspondence, speeches,
manuscripts, historical writings, research notes, conference documents and a miscellany of
reports. A Museum containing a wealth of emotive memorabilia of the period; copies of the
seven translations of Williams' seminal work, Capitalism and Slavery, (Russian and Japanese
among them); as well as photographs depicting various aspects of his life and contribution to the
development of Trinidad & Tobago completes this extraordinarily rich archive, as does a three-
dimensional re-creation of Dr. Williams' study.
Dr. Colin Palmer, Dodge Professor of History, Princeton University, who, like several
other academics, has conducted considerable research in the Collection, states that "as a model
for similar archival collections in the Caribbean...I remain very impressed by its breadth.....[it]
is a national treasure."
The EWMC is actively involved in the academic and Caribbean communities through
Florida International University's annual Eric Williams Memorial Lecture in Miami. Also in its
fifth year, the Lecture has presented: John Hope Franklin, America's premier Black historian,
1999; former President of Zambia, Kenneth Kaunda 2000; Hilary Beckles, Principal and Pro
Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies, 2001; and a round-table session entitled,
Women, Politics and the Caribbean, with the Deputy Prime Minister of the Bahamas, Cynthia
- more -
Pratt; the Attorney General of Barbados, Mia Mottley; and the former First Lady of Jamaica,
Beverley Anderson-Manley, 2002.
Another hugely successful endeavour was the 2002 Eric Williams Conference (the
fourth) at the New York Public Library's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Studies.
Some 1,000 attendees over a two-day period were treated to scholarly analyses by presenters
from several of the best-known universities/colleges in the US and the Caribbean. Dr. Jiang
Shixue of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, China, offered a paper on Eric
Williams from the Chinese perspective (four of Dr. Williams' books have been translated into
Chinese), while overseas observers came both from Japan and France.
With its annual newsletter and Oral History Project, then, as well as many other project,
the EWMC is a model for the Caribbean, a means of showing to its younger generation the vital
connection to the past what that means for both the present and for the future.
To date, some 57 different high schools in Trinidad & Tobago have visited the EWMC
Museum on field trips along with three from St. Lucia, Guadeloupe and the US Virgin Islands.
And the young continue to demonstrate their profound comprehension as they speak, following,
to what the Collection means to the general population at large and, as important, what it will
mean to future sons and daughters of Trinidad & Tobago, in particular, and of the Caribbean in
"Keep this signature. I have been inspired to accomplish even greater heights for
T & T and the Caribbean." Keisha Lewis, first year UWI student, 2000.
"I vow to defend your promise and to honour our people." Leslie Paul,
Trinidad & Tobago student, 2001.
"Thank you for treasuring what is truly ours." Kimberley Corriea,
Trinidad & Tobago student, 2002.
If, as Frantz Fanon has said, "Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its
mission, fulfill it, or betray it...," these three young ladies are well on the way to completing the
"History... to inform of (the) past as an essential guide to...future action"
Eric Williams, August 31, 1962
For more information, please contact:
Erica Williams Connell
Websites: www.mainlib.uwi.tt/eric.html http://palmm.fcla.edu/eew/