Emanuel Benjamin Oliver was born on May 29, 1876, in Monserrat. He moved to St. Croix around 1897 to teach at Reverend Paul’s School, a private school. On St. Croix he served for many years as a teacher, and later as a principal at the St. Croix Dane School, and the Frederiksted School. In 1919 he got married to Maud, and they moved to St. Thomas. He worked as a public-school teacher on St. Thomas. In 1927 he was appointed principal of the Abraham Lincoln School (later called J. Antonio Jarvis School). He initiated a night school, teacher training program. He taught at the night school. When Mr. Oliver retired from public service in 1942, he started the Goodwill School, a private school for grades 1-9. He taught at and ran the private school until his death. He died on January 31, 1948. He was honored in February 1948 by the Municipal Council of St. Thomas and St. John in recognition of his dedicated services. In 1975 an elementary school in Tutu, St. Thomas was named in his honor. The E. Benjamin Oliver School ranked top among best designed schools in the nation at that time. The school has been closed since 2017. (Sources: “Profiles of Outstanding Virgin Islanders”, Project Introspection, 1972 and “Brief Historical Notes on Schools of the Virgin Islands”, Project Introspection, 1982)
In this activity, students will analyze E. Benjamin Oliver's Identity Card for Insular Travel from 1920. They will determine the types of information one can gather about individuals from early 20th century travel documents. They will also compare the information asked for in 1920, to the information asked for on today’s passport application. They will learn that E. Benjamin Oliver was an educator in the US Virgin Islands.
Primary Sources in this Activity
Suggested Teaching Instructions
Analyze the Primary Source
You may load the Analyze a Document worksheet on the smart board or on computers so that you can lead students through answering the questions, print the worksheet and distribute to your students, or adapt the questions from the worksheet to create your own. Primary Source Analysis Worksheets
Have students complete the Analyze a Written Document worksheet individually, in small groups, or as a class. Help students as needed to complete the worksheets. Review their answers and the observations as a class.
How do the questions and details provided on E. Benjamin Oliver’s Identity Card for Insular Travel from 1920, compare to a Passport Application from today’s State Department? See today’s passport application. What details have change? What details have remained the same?