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Publication Program • Virgin Islands Humanities Council - Promoting Cultural Awareness Through The Humanities

VIHC Publication Program

Based on the belief that an understanding of human history, thought and culture begins with a knowledge of one’s own history and culture, the Virgin Islands Humanities Council has established a publications program that makes available source materials central to an understanding of Virgin Islands history and cultural heritage.

Volumes published to date chronicle the history and cultural evolution of the islands, formerly known as the Danish West Indies. Beginning with a transcription of eyewitness accounts of the encounter of the Island Carib inhabitants of St Croix with the Colombian fleet in 1493, many of the publications focus on the Danish colonial period.

Translations of historical works and current scholarship aim to broaden understanding of the institution of slavery with an emphasis on the lives and cultural adaptations of the enslaved and freed Africans.


  • Legacies of Upstreet
    Ruth Moolenaar, author, 2005

    This book chronicles the lives and social order of St. Thomas, specifically the “Upstreet” neighborhood or Kongens Quarter, by documenting family histories, traditions and cultural events. Copies of the book are now available for sale at the Council office.
  • Hans West’s Accounts of St. Croix in the West Indies
    Edited by Arnold R. Highfield and translated by Nina York

    This work by Hans West, a Danish teacher and scholar, is an overview of the conditions on St. Croix from 1789 to 1793. In it, West describes the education, customs and social obligations of the white residents, as well as the ecology and the natural environment of the island. In addition, he reports on the lives of the enslaved.
  • The Danish West Indian Slave Trade: Virgin Islands Perspectives
    Arnold R. Highfield and George F. Tyson, editors, 1994

    Essays by a group of recognized scholars in the field, exploring the nature and consequences of the Danish slave trade, with particular emphasis on how it infused Africans and African cultural traditions into the communities that now comprise the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • The Kamina Folk: Slavery and Slave Life in the Danish West Indies
    George F. Tyson and Arnold R. Highfield, editors
    First Printing –1994 Second Printing-1997

    Selections from twenty first-hand accounts, including excerpts from printed materials in German, French and Danish: collected, translated, edited, annotated and published as a core sourcebook for the study of cultural change and slavery in the Danish West Indies.
  • Description of the Island of St. Croix in America in the West Indies
    English edition and translation—Arnold R. Highfield, 1995

    Translation of a book on various aspects of life, society, and economy in the colony, written in the 1750s by Reimert Haagensen, a Danish plantation owner.
  • St. Thomas in Early Danish Times
    English edition and translation—Arnold R. Highfield, 1997

    Translation of a manuscript written in 1740 by Johan Lorentz Carstens, a Danish Creole planter born on the island of St. Thomas in 1705. The essay represents the first extended eyewitness account of the island of St. Thomas in the early colonial period.
  • Various Remarks Collected on and about the Island of St. Croix in America
    English edition and translation —Svend E. Holsoe, 1998

    Translation of a short account on Danish plantation economy and slave life and culture by Johan Christian Schmidt, a surgeon employed on the Danish West Indian plantations of the powerful and wealthy Schimmelmann family in the 1770s and 1780s. The manuscript was published in Copenhagen in 1788.
  • Bondmen and Freedmen in the Danish West Indies: Scholarly Perspectives
    George F. Tyson, editor, 1997

    A selections of major articles, papers and book excerpts in English representing current scholarship on various aspects of slavery and the life of enslaved and free Africans in the Danish West Indies.
  • Yellow Cedars Blooming: An Anthology of Twentieth-Century Virgin Islands Poetry
    Marvin E. Williams, editor, 1998

    A comprehensive collection of poetry from the United States Virgin Islands, organized chronologically into three periods, each period preceded by a critical essay, and each group of poems by a biographical statement about the author, with a comprehensive introduction by the editor.
  • Old Time Masquerading in the U.S. Virgin Islands
    Robert W. Nicholls, 1998

    Documentation of masking traditions in the U. S. Virgin Islands, including the music, dances, and costumes of various traditional masquerades. The book also discusses the educational, communicative and sociopolitical functions, and explores the underlying philosophy, religious elements and spiritual involvement of masking practices.
  • *Emancipation in the U.S. Virgin Islands 150 Years of Freedom 1848-1998
    Arnold R. Highfield, editor

    A chronology of the key events in Virgin Islands Emancipation with a commemorative poem, three articles by Virgin Islands research scholars, a collection of the most important eyewitness documents and a bibliography of the most important secondary sources. s
    *Proceeds from the sale of “Emancipation in the U.S. Virgin Islands 150 Years of Freedom 1848-1998” will go towards our Emancipation Initiative. The initiative has a purpose of making materials more culturally relevant to the students in the Virgin Islands. All proceeds will be used to purchase children's books, curriculum materials, and other resources to enhance literacy in the U.S. Virgin Islands.