The St. Croix Population Database 1734-1917, initiated in 2002 by the Virgin Islands Social History Associates of St. Croix (VISHA), is a searchable, virtual archive, currently consisting of 1.89 million biographical entries transcribed by Crucians and Danes from a vast array of historical records dispersed in American, Danish and Virgin Islands archives.
Currently available to the public at the Whim Museum Library and soon at the Williams Public Library in Christiansted, this unique Database constitutes a powerful research tool that provides scholars, educators, students, genealogists and others with direct access to inaccessible historical documentation relating to the history of St. Croix and its multi-ethnic, multi-racial population. It enables Virgin Islanders to investigate, analyze and reconstruct the Past from an indigenous perspective. It has also allowed Virgin Islanders, Europeans, Americans and Africans to reconstruct life stories and family histories of forgotten ancestors and helped dozens of families to actually trace their ancestral roots to individual Africans and to specific African homelands.
Hidden inside this dynamic research tool are tens of thousands of stories waiting to be uncovered and utilized not only to trace ancestors and African origins, but also to clarify the full range of human experience from violence, brutality and repression to love, generosity, commitment, sacrifice, affirmative action and cultural achievement that characterized St. Croix during the time that it was administered by Denmark as a colonial sugar plantation economy based on slavery and other forms of coerced labor.
Because of the brutal nature of sugar and slavery, far too many of the biographical stories are very short indeed due to attenuated life spans. Others are difficult to reconstruct because of limited or conflicting information. On the other hand, many persons have thirty to forty records packed with biographical and social information. On average, there are eighteen record entries for the ca. 125,000 individuals found in the Database, which collectively suffice to produce incredibly detailed life stories and family histories. Several of these stories compiled by VISHA staff have appeared in print and exhibits. Collectively, they reveal the power of the St. Croix Population Database to enlighten us about historical realities and the determination of the Crucian people to claim and forge lives of dignity, love, creativity and freedom in the face of tremendous adversity. -- By George Tyson
For more info: visharoots.org
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