Danish West Indies/Dansk Vestindien

+6 votes
The Danish West Indies/Dansk Vestindien were a colony of Denmark and Norway from 1754 - 1814 and later a colony of Denmark from 1814 - 1917.

My question is, how do I categorize the profiles of people born during those times? Do I add a subcategory to Denmark? Also is there a project these profiles will fall under?
in Genealogy Help by Lynnette Dovy G2G6 Mach 1 (18.4k points)

4 Answers

+2 votes
What a great question.

My suggestion would be to create the category under Denmark and Norway, as well as under the relevant modern day Caribbean countries where the colony was located.

You can create the project yourself if you wish
by Leigh Murrin G2G6 Mach 3 (31.8k points)
Thank you for the answer it is very much appreciated!
+2 votes
There are different rules for the profile data field and for categories.  

The data field should include the place name as the person profiled would have known it, so if the person your are profiling spoke Danish, the place of events in the data field would be Dansk Vestindien during this period.

Categories, on the other hand, follow single language hierarchy streams.  Fortunately, specific place names are less likely to exist in more than one language.  I think the capital, Charlotte Amalie (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlotte_Amalie,_U.S._Virgin_Islands) doesn't change with the language.  So if the person in your profile lived there, I would recommend that you create the category [[Category:  Charlotte Amalie]] and nest your profile there.  [[Category:  Charlotte Amalie]], then could be nested under Category: United States Virgin Islands, which already exists, and also under Category: Danish West Indies, which you might need to create, and nest under Category: Denmark in the English language stream, which already exists.  You could also create [[Category:  Dansk Vestindien]] and this would be nested under Category: Danmark in the Danish language stream, which already exists.  

While in most cases it is tidier to create local place categories with two levels, i.e. [[Category: Cardiff, Wales]], I personally recommend keeping it to one level when possible in a dual language area.  Otherwise, you would need to create [[Category:  Charlotte Amalie, United States Virgin Islands,]] [[Category:  Charlotte Amalie, Danish West Indies]], and [[Category:  Charlotte Amalie, Dansk Vestindien]] and nest the one profile under all three, especially if the person was born before 1917 and died after that.     

Wikipedia tells me that Charlotte Amalie was once Amalienborg (1691), and before that it was simply Taphus, or "beer hall".  Once you figure out the dates these applied, you'll have to deal with them, too if they apply to your profile!
by Jack Day G2G6 Pilot (355k points)
Thak you very much!

Ok so in our history I know that the capital was once on St. Croix and then moved to St. Thomas (This is still a pretty sore issue for the Islanders today) because of political reasons, this will be interesting to do and you've helped me with a lot of the questions I was having.

So for those ancestors I have that were born Danish in the Danish West Indies, I use the Danish West Indies category and also the US Virgin Islands because they became American right?
Occasionally you'll run into someone who thinks they can do genealogy without knowing history, but they tend to be both frustrated and confused.  Delving into history -- and sharing it -- really helps.  

When you create a category for that other town which once was the capital of the territory, it's good to put a paragraph on the category page with a few facts, including the dates it was the capital.  There really shouldn't be more than about a paragraph on a category page because people want to quickly skip down to the names of people categorized there.  If you find that the place is fascinating and you want to write much more eloquently about how it was founded and by whom, what the architecture is like, what plants were brought in from Europe to beautify the place, and some of the early intrigues between the founding families -- create a free space profile where you can write to your heart's content and link it to the category page!
+2 votes
I took a look at your profile and saw your fascinating family background and connections in the West Indies.  So let me turn to your other question now -- I would recommend that you create a West Indies Project.  

Projects can be started as a personal project or an informal small group project -- there are Help pages with more information on doing it.  

Because people move and moved from one island to another in the Caribbean, I'd recommend you resist having your project fragmented into US, Danish, British, and French parts.  You need to be concerned with all of it.  So I"d recommend you coordinate with United States History where applicable, and the Denmark and France projects where applicable, but you have an interest in not becoming fragmented.  

(I've never been to the Virgin Islands, but several decades ago managed a health care project in the English speaking (non-US) Caribbean.  One of the best times of my life, but I had to re-do our training manuals to put the "u" back in labour, colour, and favour!)
by Jack Day G2G6 Pilot (355k points)
Thank you, I'll read up on some of those things, a West Indies project would be really nice, the more I follow my family lines the more Islands I find myself researching so a West Indies project would surely be the right path.
HI, further to Jack's suggestion, I agree a West Indies Project would be good - or perhaps Caribbean Roots would be another term for it.

I have ancestors who were in St Kitts, Jamaica and Montserrat and one of my first questions when I joined Wikitree was "is there a project for these countries"?  There still isn't, so if you are up to the task, I say go for it!
+2 votes

This area is outside the area set for the formal scope of Project Denmark.  However, there are some things related to that project which may be of help to you.

First, Project Denmark has a resource page.  That page includes a section for maps and location aids which includes the official Authorized place names database which includes overlapping current and historical maps. It includes authorized place names which are used by the Project for spelling choices and the like. The resources there may include place names for the Danish West Indies.  I'm not sure.

Second, the Project has adopted a categorization structure which may be useful for you in figuring out how to name and structure categories.  But you will need to make some adaptations as the categories for Denmark itself depend heavily on sogne (parishes of the State Church) which have been a central part of Denmark geography for over a thousand years.  I don't think you will find that pattern in the West Indies, at least not carrying forward to the present.  But patterns for how to name towns and how to follow the administrative structure may be helpful.

As for whether you make your categories subcategories of Denmark, Project Denmark has made a decision to make all location categories below the level of Denmark in Danish only.  That may be a factor for you to consider.

The other constituent countries of the Kingdom (Greenland and the Faroe Islands) are not subcategories of Category: Denmark or Category: Danmark.  I know that constituent countries of a kingdom are somewhat different than colonies, but that structure may influence your decision as to whether to put the colonies under Category: Danmark or not.  

Another factor is that Denmark, Greenland and the Faroe Islands are all subcategories of Category: Europe while the Danish West Indies are very clearly not part of the European geographic area. 

Remember though, that you are not limited to a single parent category.  For example, British colonies are subcategories of both Great Britain and also the areas they later became.  For example, the areas of British colonial america, including the British West Indies, are part of Category: British America which is a subcategory of four categories:  Great Britain | British History | US History | Colonial America.  That may be a pattern that works for your area.

by Mary Jensen G2G6 Mach 9 (97.8k points)
Thank you, I'm not sure about the parishes but a lot of our streets still have their Danish names especially in the old capital on St. Croix and the current capital on St. Thomas. Most of our towns carry the name of the plantations that were run there so finding them on a map from the Danish period will not be too hard.

I'm very grateful for all the information that's been shared with me.
You mention that the West Indian Islands were a Danish-Norwegian colony. I would say that Norway also was a Danish Colony. In Denmark the Islands had the name the Danish Westindies bacause the Capitol was Copenhagen, the king was Danish.

I find your project very exciting. My ex-wife also has family in the West Indies

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