Academic journal article The Journal of Caribbean History

Douglas Hall

Academic journal article The Journal of Caribbean History

Douglas Hall

Article excerpt

When Douglas died friends and colleagues on both sides of the Atlantic had a sense that his death marked the end of an epoch: for the Department of History he served, the University of the West Indies, and Jamaica.

Douglas belonged to that academic generation, now rapidly diminishing in numbers, who survived active service in World War II before they went to university. It was an experience which marked them all in different ways. In Douglas's case it seemed to underpin, or maybe just sharpen, the sense he always exuded of being in command: of himself, of his situation, of the task in hand and of not suffering fools gladly. It may also have heightened the strong sense of responsibility he consistently demonstrated for the education, at every academic level, of the next generation. His expertise and authority were key elements in promoting the publication of The Making of the West Indies for use in secondary schools and he devoted more of his professional life to university teaching and administration than he did to academic publication.

He became a West Indian historian in the glory days when freedom from colonial rule promised to open a new future for the West Indies, a promise encapsulated in the title of his first book, still a staple of every Caribbean history reading list, Free Jamaica 1838-65. He built the department to train the cohorts to secure the intellectual and political freedom which the founding of the University of the West Indies seemed to promise. There were enough young people like himself - Eisa Goveia and Roy Augier at the core - to make the Department of History at Mona the first to throw off the colonial yoke and be staffed by West Indians. …

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