The collection - work in progress

Jeannette Ehlers & La Vaughn Belle: I Am Queen Mary, 2018. Copenhagen.

Courtesy of the artists

                         Photo: Helle Stenum

What is the FIREBURN

In 1849, in the colony Danish West Indies, slavery was replaced with a repressive, unfair system in order to continue control of plantation workers. The pay was low, mobility was restricted and

conditions were harsh. 1st October 1878, the plantation workers on St. Croix rebelled and

burned down many plantations, opened up greathouses and forced planters to flee.


After the Danish state sold Virgin Islands to the US in 1917, the archives of more than 200 years of colonial administration were brought to Denmark. In 2017, the Danish National Archives scanned many of the documents - including those relating to the Fireburn uprising - and made them digitally accessible.

However, the documents are handwritten in old Danish language style, and thus only

a limited group of people has practical access to their contents.

FIREBURN FILES aims to make the archive accesible to a broader group of people by transcribing and translating the archival documents - and creating an online collection where research, accounts,

photos, drawings, oral history, educational material, documentaries, performances and a person

database accompany the written documents.


Records from trials, court sentences, prison files, news clippings and much more

Person database

An expanding database of the persons involved in the Fireburn uprising

Oral history

Accounts from those who played a role in Fireburn and their descendants


Creative interpretations of Fireburn and its historical and contemporary implications 


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History does not merely refer or even principally to the past. On the contrary, the great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all we do

James Baldwin