Spanish Archives Yields New Insights into History of Virgin Islands National Park

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The history of any national park includes stories of people, places and even empires that predate the parks themselves. Virgin Islands National Park's history involves international politics from centuries past, and a trip to the Spanish archives by the park historian yielded some important new insights.

Thanks to funds provided by the Friends of Virgin Islands National Park, Park Historian Milagro Flores traveled to Spain last summer to conduct research and compile documentation from the Spanish archives relating to the parks history and cultural resources. Flores served as the principal investigator for the project, assisted by Doris M. Diaz, an intern (history graduate student) from the Friends of VINP intern program.

Why the Spanish archives? Information from the park notes, "After the discovery of the New World by the Europeans in 1492, Spain maintained control over the new possessions until a few decades later when the English and French began to take control of Spain’s Caribbean colonies, including the Danish settlement on the islands of St. John and St. Thomas during 17th century."

"While the Danish history of St. John is currently being studied, limited research has been conducted within these Spanish repositories regarding the numerous Spanish expeditions that mapped and recorded every move by the English, French and Danish voyagers in order to keep any founding colonies from becoming a threat to Spanish territories in the New World. The purpose of the research project was to try to find information about the Spanish impact on the history of St. John."...

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