Events across V.I. celebrate Transfer Day

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ST. THOMAS - The Caribbean Genealogy Library on St. Thomas will be marking the upcoming Transfer Day holiday with lectures this afternoon by Dr. Aimery Caron and historian David Knight Sr.

The lectures are scheduled from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. today, and the event will also include displays of old photos and Transfer Day materials from the Jane and Michael Sheen Collection, according to a statement the Caribbean Geneology Library released.

The Transfer Day holiday is Monday. It commemorates the day - March 31, 1917, - when the islands were officially transferred from Danish to U.S. rule for $25 million in gold.

Caron's lecture, "The Urgency for the Acquisition of the Danish West Indies" discusses the circumstances which led to the U.S. government's decision to the purchase the islands from Denmark.

"After the sinking of the 'Lusitania' in May, 1915, the improvements made to the St. Thomas Harbor facilities by the Danish West India Co. and the Hamburg-American Line from 1910 to 1914, and the obvious need of German U-boats for a naval supply base in the South Atlantic or the Caribbean Sea, Admiral Dewey recognized that the acquisition of the Danish West Indies before a German takeover was a matter of great urgency," Caron said in the release.

The lecture by Knight is titled "Beyond the Exodus: Digging deeper into the records of the United States Citizens' Identification Card System in the National Archives."

Knight's book "Virgin Islands Exodus" describes United States Citizens Identification Cards as perhaps the first documentary acknowledgement by officials of the United States government that individual residents of St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix were now United States nationals. Applicants for the ID cards were required to state occupation, reason for travel, age and names of children, names and addresses of relatives whom they were going to meet at their destination; and provide documents such as birth certificates and a photograph, according to the release.

Knight will explore the breadth of genealogical information awaiting discovery in this record group and reveal some of its little-known treasures, the release said.

The Transfer Day lectures will be at the Caribbean Genealogy Library which is located in Al Cohen's Plaza on Raphune Hill, next to Mango Tango Art Gallery.

The event is free for the library's members and $5 for non-members.

St. Croix events

On Monday, the territory will mark the 97th anniversary of Transfer Day with separate commemorative activities on St. Croix at the Carl and Marie Lawaetz Family Museum in Estate Little LaGrange and at the Christiansted National Historic Site.

The Landmarks Society, the St. Croix Friends of Denmark and others are planning the commemoration for 10 a.m. Monday at the Lawaetz Museum.

The event is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Monday and will feature remarks by local and Danish officials, a keynote speaker and cultural entertainment.

A lunch of locally-grown chicken, fish and produce will be on sale, with picnic tables available under the trees.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Steeple Building in Christiansted, InterXchange and the National Park Service will hold "Connections through Conversation and Culture."

The event will feature music, food, tours and a lecture by Olassie Davis.

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