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In recent years, a variety of novel digital data sources, colloquially referred to as “big data,” have taken the popular imagination by storm. These data sources include, but are not limited to, digitized administrative records, activity on and contents of social media and internet platforms, and readings from sensors that track physical and environmental conditions. Some have argued that such data sets have the potential to transform our understanding of human behavior and society, constituting a meta-field known as computational social science. Criminology and criminal justice are no exception to this excitement. Although researchers in these areas have long used administrative records, in recent years they have increasingly looked to the most recent versions of these data, as well as other novel resources, to pursue new questions and tools.

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From the 1670s to 1917, Denmark (until 1814 Denmark–Norway) maintained colonies in the eastern Caribbean. The island of St. Thomas was colonized in 1672, St. John in 1718, and St. Croix was bought from the French in 1733. Racial slavery soon came to dominate the Danish islands and was only abolished in 1848. Most people arrived to the islands as captive Africans, while most Europeans were of either Dutch or British origin. In 1917, the islands, constituting the Danish West Indies, were sold to the United States of America and became the US Virgin Islands. As part of the centennial of 2017, commemorating the transfer of the Virgin Islands to the United States of America, major Danish cultural institutions, such as the National Archives, the Royal Library, and the National Museum, digitized large collections concerning Danish activities and Danish rule in the Caribbean, including the archive of the Danish West India and Guinea Company, the archives of local government agencies in the Caribbean, large collections of photos, drawings, and maps, as well as a significant part of the written works concerning the Danish West Indies published prior to 1917. In combination with older digital platforms, new online resources facilitate the triangulation of many different kinds of evidence, which in turn promises to generate fascinating new histories of the people who lived in the US Virgin Islands while they were under Danish rule.