Library marks Christiansted’s 275th anniversary

This weekend, the Florence Williams Public Library in St Croix launched a week of activities celebrating Christiansted’s 275th anniversary this month, with a special presentation to introduce patrons to searchable databases from the St. Croix African Roots Project that will now be available in the library’s Caribbean Collection. George Tyson, president of the Virgin Islands Social History Associates, was in charge of Saturday’s presentation. The nonprofit organization spearheaded the African Roots Project and donated two sets of CDs to the library.
“It’s a workshop to familiarize people with the contents of the database and how to go about researching it,” Tyson said. The database is a collection of more than 1.8 million biographical entries from 1734 to 1917 extracted from documents in Danish and U.S. National Archives, he said.
Since it was released last year, the database has only been available on island at the Whim Museum. Tyson said the donation to the library will make it easier for residents in and around Christiansted to trace their roots.
“The data makes it possible for people to construct life stories of individuals or families and to track those family histories back to the original person who came from Africa on the slave ships — or from Europe in some cases,” he said.
In a statement the Department of Planning and Natural Resources released Friday, Commissioner Robert Mathes and DPNR Division of Libraries, Archives and Museums director Ingrid Bough said they were thrilled with the donation of the database in CD sets.
The database is “a searchable, virtual archive,” with one CD set containing digitized images of all 12 Danish West Indian Census compiled between 1835 and 1911, according to the release. The other set contains digitized images of all the slave lists compiled annually on St. Croix between 1772 and 1821. The slave lists also include information about free individuals, according to the release. “I just need to emphasize further that while this is an important tool for family histories, it is also an important tool for scholarly research,” Tyson said.
Other activities for the week at the library include: — “A Celebration of Families,” a family tree exhibit of 15 families with Christiansted connections presented by the V.I. Ancestry Discovery Group, from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. yesterday.
“Planning Christiansted,” a lecture by William Taylor, from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
“Poetry @ Your Library,” an evening of poetry reading reflecting on the theme “Christiansted: A Reflection on our Past — A Commitment to our Future,” presented by Friends of the St. Croix Libraries, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday.
“Christiansted 2010-2035: A Summit,” a meeting to discuss plans and ideas for the town over the next 25 years. Presented by the Cultural Education Division of the Education Department from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday.
The article from the Virgin Islands Daily News can be found at http://www.tmcnet.com/usubmit/2010/05/23/4803728.htm

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