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Black History Month Program to Honor V.I. Librarian and Archivist Enid Maria Baa

Feb. 12, 2005 – In a fitting tribute for Black History Month, the African Diaspora Youth Development Foundation will present a program on Feb. 25 in honor and in memory of librarian and archivist Enid Maria Baa — for whom the library on Dronnigens Gade in Charlotte Amalie is named.
The program, the foundation's 23rd annual lecture/plaque presentation, will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Chase Auditorium Room B110, Business Administration Building, at the University of the Virgin Islands. The guest speaker will be her sister, Lorraine Baa-Elisha.
Miss Baa, born Sept. 28, 1911, to Orlando and Sarah Bufford Baa, pioneered librarianship within the Virgin Islands, the Caribbean and internationally. She developed her love of library work from young. As a newly graduated student of the first high school on St. Thomas, she helped establish the first high school library. Her interest and professional ambition led to several advanced degrees, including Hampton Institute and Columbia University.
During and after her studies at Columbia, she held professional positions at Columbia, at the United Nations Library, and at New York Public Library Reference Division.
Appointed Supervising Librarian for the Virgin Islands by Gov. Paul M. Pearson in 1933, she thereby became the first woman to hold a cabinet level office in the V.I. government). Under the Revised Organic Act, she was appointed director of Libraries and Museums under Gov. Archibald Alexander in 1954. Seconded to head the Caribbean Organization's library in Puerto Rico in 1961, she also edited Current Caribbean Bibliography until the organization ended in 1965. She then returned to her post as V.I. director, where she remained until her retirement in 1974. She died in 1992.
In 1955 Miss Baa was awarded the John Hay Whitney Foundation Fellowship based on her dedication to preserve by indexing the Sephardic Jewish records of the Virgin Islands. This archival insight created an invaluable reference source for genealogists seeking the family records of outstanding Sephardim such as Judah Philip Benjamin, Camille Pissarro, the Da Costas, Monsantos, de Castros and other families. Her research interest in the Sephardim continued to the end of her working life.
Initiating and preserving a premier collection of Virgin Islands materials at the library, she designated that collection the Von Scholten Collection in 1960. She is included in numerous professional biographical publications. Recipient of many awards and honors for her achievements and publications in librarianship, archives and bibliography, she also was honored by Denmark's Queen Margrethe II in 1976 and by the V.I. Legislature in 1972 and 1975. The St. Thomas public library was renamed the Enid M. Baa Library and Archives in her honor by Act 3668 in 1975, and the institution was so dedicated on March 20, 1978.

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