Jackson Receives Library of Congress Grant

U.S. Virgin Islands – The American Folklife Center at the U.S. Library of Congress announced this week that Virgin Islands historian and culture bearer Myron D. Jackson is a recipient of the 2022-2023 Community Collections Grant for Individuals. The project – The Evolution of Folk Culture in the U.S. Virgin Islands aims to analyze historic neighborhoods on the island of St. Thomas and their connection to communities throughout the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. The project will expand on Jackson’s 40 years of research and documentation of Virgin Islands folk history and culture. Jackson and his team will identify and interview individuals with generational ties in the Virgin Islands about community specific cultural practices and traditions such as birth, coming of age, marriage, and death – which serve as markers of cultural identity within communities. Jackson’s project was one of nine awarded from 80 applicants across the country.

“I am extremely grateful to receive this grant which will allow me to digitize my work of over 40 years as well as make connections to current practices in the Virgin Islands,” Jackson said.  “It is very important to document, collect and preserve our collective memory, and our community history, culture and traditions. Through projects like this, we leave a legacy for future generations.”

The project begins this January 2023 and conclude in December 2023.

Of the People: Widening the Path is a multi-year initiative of The American Folklife Center that brings opportunities for local communities to work closely with the Library of Congress and to add their historical bodies of work to its collections aiming to tell a more inclusive and holistic American story. According to the Library of Congress, “the program aims to promote outreach in technology, innovation, and archives development for and by Black and Indigenous communities of color who are historically underrepresented in the United States and in the Library’s collection.”


Apollo Theater In Its Heyday – Kongens Gade, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, Danish West Indies
Apollo Theater Danish West Indies Government Hill Kongens Gade
The Apollo Theater during the Danish West Indies era 1904.
Kongens Gade looking west to Government Hill and Apollo Theater
Rendering of new museum site
Rendering of the proposed Virgin Islands Museum Civic and Cultural Center
Rendering of VIMCCC Courtyard
Rendering of future VIMCCC site on Kongens Gade, Charlotte Amalie

“And when you’re gone, who remembers your name? Who keeps your flame? Who tells your story? – from the musical Hamilton

Let’s keep our mother’s stories alive. Submit your story to the Virgin Islands Museum Civic and Cultural Center’s Memories of My Mother Interactive Digital Archive.

Memories of My Mother Interactive Digital Archive Questionnaire

Memories of My Mother: An Interactive Digital Archive

Frederiksted Mother and Child 1910 – Danish West Indies – Emile Langkaer Photo

Happy Mother’s Day 2021! Today, the Virgin Islands Museum, Civic and Cultural Center begins work on its first digital exhibition entitled: Memories of My Mother: An Interactive Virgin Islands Digital Archive Project.  We will be collecting essays, poems, stories, anecdotes, memories, photos, videos, letters, and other memorabilia about Virgin Islands mothers which will become part of the mosaic of the experience of women in the Virgin Islands.

Mother with children –
Frenchtown Community, St. Thomas – 1930s

How can you participate? Beginning Wednesday, May 12, 2021, we will post a questionnaire on our website for you to fill out that will ask questions about your mother’s story.   When and where was she born?  When did she or her family come to the Virgin Islands?  Is she a Virgin Islander of several generations?  Did she migrate recently?  Did she move to another Caribbean island for schooling?  Did she move to New York or Miami or Atlanta in search of a better life? Do you have pictures of her graduation or wedding or of her as a young child?  How big was her family? What was her occupation and community activities?  What church did she attend?  Was she a nurse, a teacher, a homemaker, dressmaker, a businessperson, a property owner, or legislator?  Did she have a big family or a small one?  What is your favorite story about her?  What is your favorite memory?  Do you have newspaper clippings about her?

St. John Basketweavers – Four generations of mothers and children
– Photo circa 1900 – Danish West Indies

These are some of the questions that we are interested in as we create a Virgin Islands narrative about women.  We are interested in the stories of mothers, grandmothers, aunts, godmothers, daughters, and nieces, living, or deceased from all segments of our community.  We are interested in contributions big and small.  We are interested in stories from 1900 to 2010. Stay tuned for more information on how and where to submit your information.  

St. Thomas Educator Edith Williams
with her godchildren at her home in Hospital Ground, circa 1960s.

As we compile these stories, we plan to engage young writers, artists, and storytellers in our community to create this archive and exhibit.  Every month, we will feature several women on an exhibit page.  When our museum opens, we will curate an exhibit on women in the Virgin Islands, of which your story will become a part.  Like the lyrics from the popular Broadway musical Hamilton:

“And when you’re gone, who remembers your name? Who keeps your flame? Who tells your story?” Let’s keep the flames and memories of our mothers alive!  Happy Mother’s Day!

Creating A Cultural Corridor in Charlotte Amalie

Happy New Year! May 2021 be a year of health, peace and prosperity for our community. Today, we are asking the question: Can cultural heritage be an economic driver in the U. S. Virgin Islands? We say yes. In 2021, we will begin fundraising for Phase One of our project which began as a post Transfer Centennial collaboration between Virgin Islands and Danish architects, historians, and community activists known as the In Search of Identity Project.  It envisions the creation of a cultural corridor that will spark economic activity and preserve the history and culture of Charlotte Amalie and the entire Virgin Islands. It aligns with the cultural heritage tourism, workforce development and training and small business development goals of the territory.

Our project is the product of town plans, developed and approved with community input as an initiative of the Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority.  Seed money was provided by the Virgin Islands Legislature and the Danish government.

The Virgin Islands Museum, Civic and Cultural Center, St. Thomas, Inc. is the non-profit created to develop the J. Antonio Jarvis School Complex into a School for Arts and Culture. It will be developed in conjunction with the adjacent Danish era Freemason Lodge, two-story brick ruin and other open lots which will become a modern Cultural/Civic Center and Museum to feature the art, history, and culture of the Territory and provide a venue to express, share and cultivate traditions, wisdom, art, and talents of the community.  The renovated Jarvis School will provide classroom and workshop settings.  The Museum will provide a historic and modern chronology, collections, art and cultural exhibitions, public areas, gift shop, lecture hall/theater and restaurant.

As we develop our project, we are partnering with the Dion Parsons Music School and My Brothers Workshop to enhance learning opportunities for young people in music and the building and construction arts.

We invite you to join us as we begin this new era of celebrating our history and culture while we meet current and future community needs for education, training, small business creation and economic development in our community.

Stay tuned to our Facebook, blog posts and other media engagements for information on how you can participate in this effort.