Scattered throughout the Danish and American archives relating to the Virgin Islands are official, government compiled statistics relating to such matters as crop production, overseas trade, and population development. Such documentation generally provides the most reliable economic or social data for a specific period and locale. This document lists the annual amounts of sugar, and its by-products rum and molasses, shipped from the Danish West Indies to Denmark, other European markets, St. Thomas and the United States in the immediate aftermath of emancipation (1848-1863).
In this activity, students will use questions to interpret official statistics from St. Croix’s rum and sugar production industry from 1848-1863, practice reading and retrieving information from a table, and research the significance of the territory's rum industry today.
Primary Sources in this Activity
Suggested Teaching Instructions
Before beginning this activity, help students to understand what a primary source is, have students provide examples of primary sources, help them with examples if needed, and discuss the difference between primary sources and secondary sources.
Load the official statistics document onto an interactive smart board and have students make observations together. If there is not a smart board, students can work in small groups at computers.
Also load the Analyze a Written Document worksheet on the smart board or on computers so that you can lead students through discussing their answers to questions on the worksheet.
Before working with the document and analysis worksheet, lead a class in a discussion about the economy of St. Croix. Discuss what their major exports were during the time, 1863.
The document is written in Danish. The following translations of column headings will be useful.
Translations of the headers of columns:
Top line = EXPORTS OF ST. CROIX PRODUCTS
Next line = Sugar Rum Molasses
Next line= to Denmark | to Foreign European Places | to American places & St. Thomas OFFICIAL STATISTICS: ST. CROIX SUGAR-RUM-MOLASSES PRODUCTION 1848-1863
Analyze the Primary Source
You may load the Analyze a Photograph 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
Independently, with a partner, in small groups or as a class, have the students answer the Analyze a Written Document worksheet questions. Help students as needed to complete the worksheets. Review their answers and the observations as a class.
Make Connections: Research the rum industry in the Virgin Islands today, and write an essay answering: Is the rum industry in the Virgin Islands significant to the territory’s economy and to the government of the Virgin Islands? Explain your answer, and include the sources you used to research the topic.