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CHRISTIANSTED — Commissioner Dawn L. Henry, Esq., of the Department of Planning and Natural Resources is pleased to announce that the Division of Libraries, Archives & Museums (DLAM) is hosting a USVI/DK Archives Joint Centennial Project, through a collaboration with the Territorial Archives.

The joint collaboration with the Danish National Archives (Rigsarkivet) Centennial Project will provide training to researchers, historians, students, scholars and genealogists on deciphering and understanding Danish Gothic handwriting and historical records created during the Danish West Indian era (1671-1917).

On Transfer Day, March 31, 2017, the Danish National Archives will officially release online for free access over 5,000,000 images of digitized historical records of the Danish West Indies.  Many of these documents are written in 19th century Danish Gothic handwriting that is difficult to transcribe or translate.

Virgin Islanders will be provided tools and strategies for meaningful research and interpretation. A team of qualified researchers will be trained in each district in order that others might be locally trained and guided in these skills through a five-session course on:

1.) Basic techniques to decipher and transcribe Danish Gothic handwriting;

2.) Basic Danish language instruction with an emphasis on terminology used in Danish West Indian era documents;

3.) An introduction to Danish National Archives online and

4.) other finding aids, web sites, and search techniques for Danish West Indian research.

 Archivist Niklas Thode Jensen, Ph.D., from the Danish National Archives, will conduct the five-day workshops. Funding and workshop locations are entirely underwritten by the Danish National Archives, the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, and viNGN.  There is no cost to participants.

 A small group of local researchers, retirees, students, educators and librarians Territory-wide have been identified to participate in the two “pilot” workshops in the St. Croix and St. Thomas/St. John district January 30th – February 10th.

The Territorial Archives is exploring with the Danish National Archives the possibility of opening the anticipated high interest workshops at a later date in 2017. For more information, please contact Territorial Archivist Susan Lugo at

HARD TO JUSTIFY: An example of old Danish calligraphy like the kinds that will be offered in the DPNR course.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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