Two people in white hazmat suits handle a damaged historic tome.
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U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS: Legislative Records Recovery Project

Preserving Historic Records and Offering Disaster Preparedness Training

Connections between the Smithsonian and the cultural community of the US Virgin Islands, who participated in the Folklike Festival in 1990, meant that SCRI knew who to call with an offer of help after the devastating 2017 hurricanes. Working with FEMA and the U.S. Department of Interior, the USVI legislature and various cultural organizations on St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John, Smithsonian led workshops for mitigating mold damage, provided emergency response training for heritage stewards, and provided supplies and equipment and specialized expertise for severely damaged collections. As part of this work, the Smithsonian undertook a special project to save the historic manuscript records of the legislature.

In collaboration with local partners, SCRI hosted two Heritage Emergency Response and Training workshops for U.S. Virgin Islands cultural collections caretakers. Each two-day workshop covered disaster planning and prevention and provided hands-on training in salvage and evacuation. The first workshop took place at the Charles Wesley Turnbull Regional Public Library. The second workshop took place at Fort Frederik National Historic Landmark Site on St. Croix.

As part of the collaboration with the USVI legislature, SCRI and the Smithsonian Libraries conducted a project to salvage, freeze dry, digitize, and preserve a set of twenty volumes from the historic manuscript records of the U.S. Virgin Islands legislature.  Smithsonian Libraries  conserved and digitized the volumes. The USVI legislature has made the volumes accessible on-line, ensuring that scholars and the community will have access to this resource.