The following announcement was written by Ancestry.com:
PROVO, UT -- 07/16/09 -- Ancestry.com, the world's largest online commercial resource for family history, today announced that the company, in collaboration with Virgin Islands Social History Associates (VISHA), is launching a significant online collection of Caribbean slave records detailing nearly 200 years of St. Croix-Virgin Islands history.
This unique collection is a product of the St. Croix African Roots Project, initiated in 2002 by VISHA to bring together records that document the population, families and individuals on St. Croix during the period of Danish rule. During the past seven years, VISHA collected, documented and transcribed a vast array of historical records found in American, Danish and Virgin Island archives. These records together in one collection help individuals of African descent chronicle the lives of their African and Creole ancestors as they negotiated enslavement and freedom in a New World plantation society.
To make this collection more accessible, Ancestry.com is working with VISHA to digitize and put online the St. Croix African Roots Project documents, which will help tens of thousands of people trace their ancestral roots, some to individual Africans and specific African homelands.
"This new collection uncovers details about thousands of African Americans, including multiple documents that help people reconstruct the life stories of forgotten ancestors," said Quinton Atkinson, Director of Content Acquisition, Ancestry.com. "Every day, people make remarkable family discoveries on Ancestry.com and we are thrilled to help them uncover the important stories of the past through collections like this one."
A Powerful Family Discovery:
For Susan Samuel of Houston, TX, and her son Mark, the documents uncover the story of Susan's great-great-great-great-grandmother Venus Johannes. Records soon to be online show that, while still young, Venus Johannes was captured from the side of a river in Senegal, Africa and enslaved at Goree Island -- a stop for captured slaves as they were loaded onto ships bound for Britain and the U.S. Other records show that from Goree Island, she was married off to an American Sea Captain and brought to St. Croix, where she was illegally re-enslaved. Enslaved for some 30 years, she was finally freed in 1815.
"It has been a very inspirational experience to see the documents and discover the amazing life story Venus wrote in her own words," said Samuel.
The first installment of this collection that went online today includes the U.S. Virgin Islands St. Croix Slave Lists (1772-1821) and Population Census (1835-1911), which together contain information on more than 700,000 slaves, owners and family members. These St. Croix African Roots Project records will be searchable for free on Ancestry.com until the end of July.
Ancestry.com has set up a remote scanning operation in St. Croix to digitize more of this collection and in the coming year, the site will add more than a million family history records from the project including:
- Slave Trade Shipping Records 1749-1802 -- Names and prices of enslaved Africans sold from slave ships to purchasers on St. Croix
- Property Inventories 1755-1848 -- Names, occupations, property values, locations and family relations of enslaved individuals
- Free Persons of Color Records 1740-1834 -- Periodic censuses, lists and freedom charters for the free colored population and other special censuses and papers
- Church Records 1744-1917 -- Records of baptisms, marriages, births and deaths of slaves and free persons belonging to the Lutheran, Dutch Reform, Anglican, Roman Catholic and Moravian churches in St. Croix
- Vital Statistics 1820-1917 -- Records of births, death, and marriages on an annual basis with information about family relations
- Vaccination Records 1823-1853 -- Smallpox vaccination records for all plantation slaves for the years 1823-1824 and annual vaccinations performed in both towns and plantations 1829-1853
- Emancipation Records 1848 -- Compiled for all plantation slaves freed in order to establish compensation amounts for the owners
- Movements of Plantation Workers 1848-1870 -- Traces the movements of ex-slaves around St. Croix and off-island in the years after emancipation
- Immigration Records 1850-1917 -- Documents immigration of people from other Caribbean Islands to St. Croix after emancipation
- Laborer Lists 1849-1917 -- Lists of laborers working on the plantations
In addition to the St. Croix African Roots Project collection, Ancestry.com also hosts other key African American collections. To search through the two new St. Croix databases or other African American family history records visit http://www.ancestry.com/virginislands.
About the St. Croix African Roots Project (SCARP)
The St. Croix African Roots Project (SCARP) is a multi-national research and documentation project created to enhance the knowledge and understanding of the population, individuals and families on St. Croix during Danish rule. The Virgin Islands Social History Associates (VISHA), a non-profit organization headquartered on St. Croix, launched SCARP in 2002 to promote the development of a multi-faceted, historiography in which African descents are accorded identity, humanity and agency. A major outcome of SCARP is the "St. Croix Population Database 1734-1917," consisting of 1.83 million biographical entries extracted from records found in Danish, American and Virgin Islands archives. Over the next year, VISHA will expand the Database and continue to add new documents to both the VISHA website (www.visharoots.org) and Ancestry.com. Funding for SCARP has been provided by the Carlsberg Foundation of Denmark, the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Solar Foundation of Denmark.
Ancestry.com is the world's largest online commercial resource for family history and has digitized and put online over 4 billion records over the past twelve years. Ancestry users have created over ten million family trees containing over one billion profiles. Ancestry.com has local Web sites directed at nine countries, and more than 8 million unique visitors spent more than 5 million hours on an Ancestry Web site in May 2009 (comScore Media Metrix, Worldwide). For more information on Ancestry.com and its other family history resources, visit http://corporate.ancestry.com.