Tracing Slave Ancestry Just Got Easier
LIANE HANSEN, Host:
George Tyson is president of the Virgin Islands Social History Associates. And he joins from Frederiksted, St. Croix. Good morning, Sir.
GEORGE TYSON: Morning, Liane.
HANSEN: What kind of documents have you been compiling? What kind of records? What information do these documents contain?
TYSON: And collectively it enables the researcher to develop detailed life stories about many, many of the people who lived on St. Croix during the period of slavery, and to follow them and their families into the post-emancipation period.
HANSEN: You found the story of a woman. Her name was Venus, would it be Johannes?
TYSON: Johannes, that's correct.
HANSEN: You traced her story. What is it?
TYSON: She had already had four children by then. After she became free, she had three other children with a man by the name of John Johannes and she took the name Venus Johannes. And we were able to use the database material to track the family up to 1917 and then connect them to people who are alive today on St. Croix and in the United States.
HANSEN: Now that the Virgin Islands Social History Associates have compiled this gold mine of information and the records are going to be available online, what should someone with no experience in genealogical research begin?
TYSON: It is possible then to track people backwards to the period of slavery. And then you can use the records that have to do with the slave list, the plantation inventories, and use those records to track your ancestors back into the 18th century.
HANSEN: Would you begin with a contemporary ancestor and work your way backwards?
TYSON: And the other problem is that these records are old and as a consequence, they were not always easy to transcribe and compile into the database. So there will be challenges for people to do this. But I can tell you, having used the database myself, it can go very fast.
HANSEN: George Tyson is president of the Virgin Islands Social History Associates. Thank you for your time.
TYSON: Yes, thank you very much.
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