Transfer 2010 / 11

We are a group of Caribbean-based and continental U.S. scholars, artists, and researchers who share the common interests of learning more about Danish West Indies/U.S. Virgin Islands history, sharing all of the results of our work with Virgin Islanders, and using the stories that we collect to reframe Virgin Islands history from the local rather than the colonial perspective.

On the second floor of the National Archives II, in College Park, Maryland are a series of books that catalogue every item within the archive, which is organized by place. The Virgin Islands are assigned to Record Group 55. Within this group are a series of passport applications for individuals and families who desired to travel from the U.S. Virgin Islands to the continental United States in 1918. Archives serve as carefully constructed warehouses of memory. In this case, the memory is constructed from the perspective of the United States government. What is lacking is the experience of the documented events from multiple vantage points. Oral histories, in the form of narratives, are alternative repositories of personal and collective memories.

The goal of Transfer 2010 is to reconstitute the histories of individuals and families in the U. S. Virgin Islands who applied for travel passports in 1918. We want to trace the trajectories of the passport applicants, what are their stories before they applied for the passports and what happened to them, and their descendants, afterward? We will use radio, television, and newspapers to engage the public and display the passport images on the islands and in New York City, where many of the travelers were headed. The goal is to have the greatest public knowledge of the project possible, to incorporate as many voices as possible. We want to reframe the archive created by colonial entities by shifting people from the role of object to subject. This puts Virgin Islanders back in control of their own histories, returning these narratives where they belong, to the U.S. Virgin Islands. The end result will incorporate the histories, essays, and art, into reference materials for Virgin Islanders regarding the historical moment of transfer and the processes that it initiated from the perspective of Virgin Islanders.

The historical event of Transfer Day is a snapshot created from the continuous processes of time and memory. Through narrative and archives the event is carded, combed, and woven into the fabric of historical memory of Transfer Day in the United States Virgin Islands.
To share information about individuals seen in these passport photos or their families, please contact

Mail:     Janet Cook-Rutnik                        Phone: Janet Cook-Rutnik 340-693-8069
            PO Box 348                                    Email:  Janet Cook-Rutnik:
            St. John, USVI 00831                            or   Lori Lee:

  :: ARCHIVE :: nº 4 / Ivan Ekonsen Todman nº 164 / Isabella Esannason nº 49 / Julia Meyer  
  nº 72 / Miss Martha Giddings nº 153 / Walter Jensen nº 151 / James Herbert Stevens nº 179 / Lorenzo Paul
  nº 163 / Juliana Francis nº 130 / Aileen Watlington nº 112 / Ann Elizabeth Richardson nº 8 / David Bornn
  nº 155 / Julius Souffront nº 129 / Olga Esannason nº 109 / Annesta Francis nº 87 / Isabell Allen
  nº 143 / Dagmar Liggett nº 128 / Rosalia Sorensen nº 97 / James Civil nº 122 / John Henry
  nº 118 / Maria Branch nº 103 / Amadeo Francis nº 180 / Alphonse Sheckelton nº 41 / Theresa Abramson
  nº 35 / Rudolph Lanclos nº 21 / Hubert Host nº 156 / Leguile François  
  * Access to the Transfer Book nº1 in format PDF // Screen Size // Print Size // (soon in Amazon)