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Genealogy Exhibit to Help Residents Reclaim Their Ancestry

March 14, 2007 — The St. Croix Educational Complex will be a meeting place to literally bring families together during the V.I. Family Tree and History Exhibit this Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.
Group coordinator Veronica Phillips said that 55 researchers will share their family trees with residents. In total, the exhibit will consist of 60 tables, five of which will offer information on how others can trace their roots.
"People will be able to plug in their names to those family trees," she said of the family tree exhibits to be displayed. Phillips said that people usually meet family members with different surnames and are able to "plug in" to the tree, thus expanding the search.
Phillips said that she founded the group in 2001 as a support group for others who wanted to research their history.
"The purpose of our group is to get people to think about their family history and to document their oral history," she said. "Too many of us are told stories by our elders, and we're not documenting it. If we don't document it, we will lose it."
According to Phillips, many of the researchers also had no family to discuss their family history with, and she added, "We found that with this group we could support one another."
Phillips said that researching family history is a rewarding undertaking.
"The benefit to me is to find the connectedness," she said, explaining that until her group began educating residents on genealogy, many people believed that their DNA came from strictly their mothers and fathers.
"We carry the living DNA of our ancestors," she said. "Sometimes we wonder why we are who we are or where we get our personalities; and this can go as far back as our ancestors and doesn't necessarily have to come from mom and dad," she said.
Phillips is hoping that residents will come share or discover their history on Sunday. This year's theme is "Reclaim and Embrace Our Ancestors."
And, in an effort to get more people interested in tracing their family roots, Phillips is hosting a workshop from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on March 24 at the Florence William Library in Christiansted.
Residents who plan to attend the workshop must reserve a space, she said.
Sign-up sheets will be available Sunday at the exhibit.
For more information, call 692-2383.
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