A report by Adisha Penn for The St Thomas Source.
The Caribbean Genealogy Library will be hosting a presentation Saturday on print materials and records donated by the St. Thomas Graphics print business. The presentation will help publicize the launch of the organization’s Community Foundation and National Endowment for the Humanities grant-funded project to digitize portions of the collection for online viewing.
“The printed materials of this collection are very unique. St Thomas Graphics was one of the few printing workshops on the island. At a time prior to desktop computer publishing, the materials in the STGC capture a snapshot of the people and organizations in the late 20th century,” said Rob Upson, treasurer for the Caribbean Genealogy Library and a former president of the organization.
The project of digitizing the collection began in the fall of last year. The digitized materials will include portions of inventories, curated content, links to the scanned image archives, funeral booklets, business publications, event program booklets, government reports, maps, posters, brochures, marketing material, forms, and recorded presentations from the period of 1970-2007.
“Additional digitization of oversized items and full graphic publication contents would require additional grant funding and volunteers’ contribution of time,” said Upson.
Because the collection is so expansive, CGL’s goal is to upload covers for many of the resources and not the entire publications. That way viewers can see the material available in the collection and request to view a publication in its entirety. They can either have the requested material digitized and uploaded online or they can request to view it in person at the library.
“We’re making every effort now to digitize at least portions of the collection so that our patrons and researchers who visit with us will know what the collection contains. That’s really the purpose of the lecture on Saturday as well – to acquaint the listening audience with the materials,” said Susan Lugo.
Lugo is one of three founders of CGL and served as president from 2005-2008.
“The collection was stored in boxes at CGL up until 2020. It survived the 2017 hurricanes without damage,” Upson said.
St. Thomas Graphics was established by Richard and Judy Pitzl in the 1970s when they relocated to St. Thomas from Wisconsin. It addressed the growing printing needs of the community at the time.
This coming Saturday, Lugo will lead the “St. Thomas Graphics: Documenting Community” presentation to highlight the significance of the printing industry and show the community how to access the digitized resources that were donated to CGL from St. Thomas Graphics.
“One of the things we will cover in the lecture is the history of printing as a way of providing context for the appreciation of what St. Thomas Graphics meant to this community. That’s on several levels. One is just the pure mechanical process of printing, maintaining the equipment, and having skilled workers to produce a quality product, [which] are all very challenging things…and on a different level it’s the printing industry and the development of printing,” said Lugo.
The presentation will also include special appearances by Karl Callwood, Annice Canton, Glen “Kwabena” Davis, Cathy O’Gara, and former Governor Charles W. Turnbull, each with ties to the St. Thomas Graphics Collection.
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