The Grenada Revolution Online

Finding Resources About the Grenada Revolution

Going back in time, a brief passage from Chris Searle's book "Grenada Morning" is illustrative. Searle comments:

"I remember him [Maurice Bishop] once saying to me when I was trying to convince him to set up some kind of archive of the revolution because so much historic material was being lost:

'You know, Bernard only thinks of one thing, and that is the revolution. His mind is so much on the problems of the economy that he doesn't keep or file anything. I'm trying to get the comrades to hold on to important things so we can keep them, otherwise in a few years time we'll have nothing to build our history with. You know Bernard ent even have one single copy of his own book from the days in London? I keep it for us, like I try to keep safe all our things.'

"Then he left the room and came back with a large cardboard box of photographs and mementos, all mixed up, family, friends, comrades, England, N.J.M., anti-Gairy struggles - this was his archive. Amongst them was a set of snaps of he and Fidel drinking and talking together in Cuba, and another of him as a young man in London with sideburns and what looked almost like teddy boy gear."

Ironic how these things unfold.

TO THE RESEARCHER/STUDENT: With an abundance of resources, including primary sources, sensibility points to drawing some boundaries and guidelines in relation to your research. The information on this site is obtained through printed sources. The citations of these sources are not made for this online site. If you wish to know where specific information is obtained, email comments and questions to CONTACT.

The first watchfulness in finding resources is to limit expenses and the cost of time. You can do this by

(1) not leaving your desk and (2) not leaving your town.

(Expansion on point 1) By not leaving your desk, I mean using your computer and the Internet to gain information on the Grenada Revolution. Primarily this is done through search engines and through links found at Grenada-related WEB pages.

(Expansion on point 2) By not leaving your town, I mean to use the main branch of your local public library and your local college library facility. If you make friends with the people at the Reference Desk of your local libraries, most likely they will refer you to the World Catalog, through OCLC First Search, where there is a wealth of information.

Let us say, you are in the United States. You want to borrow a copy of Vijay Tiwathia's, “The Grenada War: Anatomy of a Low-Intensity Conflict.” If you looked up the title on, you would see where that book is held.

Most likely, your local library can order the title you seek through the Interlibrary Loan (ILL) system. The book may come from the Wake Forest University Library in North Carolina, for example, and be shipped to your library via ILL. You are notified of the book's arrival at your local library. You pay a nominal fee and you can take the book home to study; returning the book within the specified time. The first time this happens you may feel that this is the best thing since rural electrification.

Most likely a similar service is available in the EU countries, in Canada and in the Caribbean, especially between University of the West Indies libraries. In Grenada, you can walk to the Marryshow House Memorial Library [now air-conditioned/humidity-controlled]. The Grenada Public Library remains closed.

You may want to purchase the selected collection of Grenada Documents the United States removed from Grenadian soil so you can have the documents as a continuously available reference. To read more about this volume, please link to The Grenada Documents.

The U.S. government-issued "Grenada Documents: Overview and Selection" is usually for sale on the used book market as are other Grenada titles. Link to AddAll Books. This one-stop site is a maxi-service WEB site for small booksellers who have consolidated their listings in service sites; for example, one service site is ABE Books. Check out Book Price Comparisons to determine the location where cheapest price is listed. The newest entry to the used book market is Amazon.

When searching on these sites for books on the Grenada Revolution, a practice more comprehensive and practical is to search only on “Grenada”. Yes, you may get Grenada Publishing in the UK, or Grenada, Mississippi titles or Granada in Spain, but these are usually a small percentage of the books found (usually about 300-500 are for sale about Grenada at one time). Think like a bookseller who is writing up piles and piles of books - What is the keyword? ‘Grenada’ is a likely choice.

When you order through these sites, unless you use the various payment plans of the consolidator sites - like ABE Books - you can order directly from the bookseller. I usually email my interest, confirm the cost of the book and the shipping and the total price. I ask them to confirm the stock situation and get back to me. When the bookseller responds to my request for confirmation, I usually email them back that a check is in the mail. There are various ways to do this. Some sites have restrictions. Keep in mind that the bookseller could be a person like myself, selling off my collection. I am not at ease sending off my credit card information other than to a larger, secure organization. Amazon makes it feel easy with One-Click to your account even from individual used book sellers.

Let's say you want a new book on Grenada, still in print. Check out AMAZON, or AMAZON UK, et al. There are other places to order books online. Their service and viability change enough to keep you on your lookout for the best places to order books on the Internet.

Marryshow House
Marryshow House
©2002, photo by Ann Elizabeth Wilder

If you are in St. George's, go to Marryshow House above the Carenage. The adjunct building to the main house is called the Memorial Library. Located on Blaize Street, formerly Tyrrel Street, the library has extensive research materials on the Grenada Revolution.

The Sheila Buckmire Grenada Public Library is a place with historic materials. Unfortunately, it has been closed for a couple of years due to the buildings' structural problems. Ask around to see if you can get a special appointment as a researcher.

Grenada Public Library
Grenada Public Library, 2003
Photo courtesy of Brian Steele

If you are in New York City, explore the Schomburg Collection and the New York Public Library catalog.

If in Washington, DC there are many choices - Georgetown University, Howard University, the Library of Congress, among others. Visit the original Grenada Documents in microfiche form at the National Archives II in College Park, Maryland. The University of Florida in Gainesville and the University of Texas at Austin have extensive Caribbean Collections.

Resources surely abound in Canada and the United Kingdom. In the UK, try COPAC.

Visiting research collections on-site requires the important step of inquiry beforehand for hours of service, requirements for qualifying the researcher and investigation of whether resources are available to meet your needs. Have you allocated enough time to get everything done? Better yet, do you have specific goals to meet [because Murphy's law is that you will never get everything completed]? Do you have pre-written citations you wish to explore? Is the library air-conditioned, and how long can you research before you've had enough? Is there a place to get refreshments?

At one time I would have advised you attempt a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. I received documents, eventually, following my request in 2000. Former Attorney General Janet Reno had a 1993 directive that urged agencies to make “discretionary disclosures.” If there was a question someone would be harmed, the request would not be granted. In general, during the years following 1993, most requests were granted. The period was a time of discussion about too many documents being marked ‘secret’ and unavailable to the public, even though those documents were without harm to anyone and contributed to the historical record. There certainly was an easing about giving out copies of governmental documents.

It appears, since the appointment of former Attorney General John Ashcroft and as of 12 October 2001, a new memorandum was been issued. The wording of this memo discounts anything Reno issued and endangers the granting of a FOIA request about Grenada. You most likely have heard in the news about the Exemption 5, which relates to working papers. As Kirtley states in her American Journalism Review article of January/February 2002:

. . . the most obtuse government-records custodian couldn't mistake the message:
      When in doubt, don't give it out.

And it further appears there are additional restrictions on U.S. government information. Consider this report from The Hightower Lowdown, of May 2003:

On the night of March 25 [2003], with none of the fanfare that usually accompanies a major policy decree, George W. issued a 10,000-word executive order that: (1) gives the government more discretion to keep information secret indefinitely, as long as it's for 'national security'; (2) gives the vice-president, for the first time, power to classify government information as secret; (3) treats all routine material sent to American officials by foreign governments as secret; (4) expands the ability of the CIA to keep its records secret; (5) delays the release of old presidential records that would have been declassified automatically after 25 years.

BUT ALL WAS NOT LOST and the cyclical movement of things moves towards declassification. Researchers discovered a complete turn-around in government document transparency with the Obama administration, especially as of December 2009 when steps began towards open government in terms of government document accession. The neader of a National Security Archive blog reads:

(Updated Jan 4, 2009) Obama Executive Order on Classification: Reflects Publicís Comments, Makes a Commitment to Declassify Hundreds of Millions of Pages of Historical Materials, Sets the Stage for Reduction in Overclassification

Alas, things changed again . . . keep tuned.

Good luck and have fun with your searches.

  1. The major collection of Grenada Documents at the U.S. National Archives II in College Park, MD. Check Grenada Documents Collection for detailed information.
  2. The Georgetown University Collection in Washington, DC, of Grenada Documents - these are what Gregory Sandford donated to Georgetown U. - the index of boxes is quite clear online The Georgetown Collection, but you need visit in person to look at the contents in each box. Then you can possibly get a staff person to photocopy the ones you note - then you need to return later because the staff photocopier person is not readily on hand - then you pay. Sandford has documents not found in other collections.
  3. The Big Lite Blue book of Grenada Documents "Grenada Documents, Overview and Selection", ala Herbert Romerstein and Michael Ledeen, eds. - these were key documents chosen by these two men. Most, not all of these, are found at NARA II in No. 1 above.
  4. What is known as the 4-volume collection, like at Univ. of Pittsburgh and UWI, called 'Captured Documents from Grenada'. These are different documents from other collections usually in loose leaf binders.
  5. The two books of retyped [often in error - typographical mistakes and some paragraphs omitted] documents by Crozier, 'The Grenada Documents' and Seabury/McDougall, eds. "The Grenada Papers."
  6. "Documents on the Invasion of Grenada" by Lewis, Sybil Farrell and Dale T. Mathews, compilers.
  7. Some universities have "The [North American Congress on Latin America] NACLA Archive Collection [Grenada]".

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