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A Duke student makes a rare discovery

On Feb. 2, Julia Gaffield made a once-in-a-lifetime discovery when, while thumbing through some correspondence in the British National Archives, she discovered a copy of Haiti's Declaration of Independence.

Here's the thing: Nobody's actually seen a copy of this document in generations. Centuries, even.

Written Jan. 1, 1804, the printed copies of the document were all thought lost to the winds of time. Enter Gaffield, a doctoral student studying the early years of Haitian independence.

Oddly enough, she found the document within correspondence between Jamaica and Great Britain, which makes sense, historians say, because Jamaica and Haiti are neighbors and Jamaica, being a British colony at the time, corresponded regularly with the British monarchy.

Duke has prepared a jazzy new website about Gaffield's discovery and is unveiling it today. Have a look here.

And read the News & Observer Thursday for more on Gaffield's discovery.

This week, the 26-year-old, who grew up in Canada and got her bachelor's and master's degrees there before coming to Duke, spoke to the News & Observer.

Here are excerpts.

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