Monday, February 11, 2013

New Online Records: St Croix and St Thomas

This week I ran across three new resources for VI research that should be of considerable help to island researchers. These include an indexed collection, a new entry to Ancestry’s offerings, and a secret back-door entry into some census records from the Danish Archives.

NARA Publication M-1883 on

imageLongtime readers and other VI researchers are probably aware that NARA has two microfilm publications of interest to Virgin Island genealogy researchers.  These are referred to as M-1883 and M-1884.  The smaller set, M-1883 comprises 11 rolls of microfilm and contains information that focuses on slavery and emancipation, although there are other materials in the collection.  Fold3 (formerly has had the full collection available as part of their subscription offering for some time.  I had a subscription to Fold3 for a year, but since that was the only collection of interest to my research, I let it expire.

On January 31, posted the collection, listed as U.S. Virgin Islands, Danish West Indies Slave Records, 1672-1917.
The collection is not indexed, but it is organized to follow NARA’s organization on the films.  The beginning of each roll, in a section entitled “Introductory Material” is a set of pages that include a full listing of the records in the collection, as well as some general information regarding the records themselves and a brief timeline of the islands and the records.

Some of the records I have found most useful are:
  • Census fragments from 1835 and 1847
  • Registers of Free Colored Inhabitants
  • Emancipation Records and Lists of Slaves
  • Baptisms and other records of Colored Persons
  • Register of Black Communicants 1819-1835
This last set is marked “Provenance Unknown” but appears to be mostly a listing of members of the Lutheran Mission Church in Christiansted.  I have found several family members in that list.

Indexed M-1883 Free Colored Registers at

While it is contained in the set above, is hosting the St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, Free Colored Censuses, 1815-1832 which have been indexed by VISHA.  This set is made up of the special censuses of free coloreds on St Croix that were taken in 1831-1832 as well as registers of free status compiled from 1815-1830 on St Croix.  The collections cover the cities and plantations in the Christiansted jurisdiction (Eastern part) and Frederiksted jurisdiction (Western part) and are organized registers for Men, Women, and Children.  The addition of the VISHA index makes this collection truly valuable, as searches can be done by name, birth date, keyword, and other fields. 

imageOne particularly useful feature of the search is that you can locate individuals by other listed information.  For example, I did a search on my 4th great grandmother Grace Welcom, whom I had not located in the collection.  While I didn’t find her listed, I did find an entry for Rebecca Tennant, born 1816, who listed Grace Welcom as her mother.  In my research I had located a baptismal record for a Rebecca born to Grace Welcom in 1816, but had no last name listed.  In all of my times looking at the collection, I had not seen this record before.

1880 Danish West Indies Censuses at Arkivalieronline

This week I got an email from a genea-friend in Denmark when he ran across a van Beverhoudt entry in a resource from Arkivalieronline.  While the person he found is unknown to me, I was particularly excited to see a page from the 1880 St Thomas census.  Until now, I have not been able to find any St Thomas censuses online, and I have family who lived there at that time.

Those who have taken their research from the Danish West Indies to Denmark are certainly familiar with the Danish Archives online site, Arkivalieronline (AO).  This site holds a great many census images and church registers across Denmark and many territories.  While the site is in Danish, it has some English help so it isn’t too hard to use.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t really hold much for the Vestindiske ­Øer (Westindian Islands).  Apparently, however, there is more on the site than I knew. 

An enterprising Dane, named John Nielsen has constructed an index for many of their online holdings and has posted a page entitled AO-Rebus (  About halfway down the page he has links for the 1880 St Thomas, St John, and St Croix censuses.  The census images are organized by street or region and consist of a .jnlp file.  When you open them you get a Java-based browser to page through the images that are downloaded from AO.
Images can be saved as .tiff files, but only a page at a time.  The .jnlp files are simply references to the locations at AO, so you will have to browse, street by street, line by line.  Not real different than microfilm.

All three of these collections are welcome additions to the on-line resources we have available.  Nice to know that not everyone completely ignores the islands.

Special thanks to George Tyson and VISHA for releasing their index.  I know they work very hard on these records and do so with very limited funds.


  1. Thanks for the info. I've had a look at the 1880 Census for St. Thomas and it's not bad going through it.Of course it would help if I had a closer idea of what street I need in Charlotte Amelia but since there is so little info online for St. Thomas I'll take what I can get and try to find that needle in the haystack. Thanks for always looking out for these new tidbits!

  2. Dave,
    After seeing these documents on line this morning, it reminded me of the pride and gratitude that was felt when first launched the St. Croix population database in 2009. As one who has worked with the Visha Group, on the St. Croix African Project; all I wanted to do today was to remain home, and scroll through the documents over and over again. Thank you for your post, thank you for acknowledging George Tyson, and the Visha Group for their hard work with limited funds.

  3. I really like the looks of your blog. Would you be willing to tell me how you set up partial posts on your home page, so that you can see a little bit of a few posts. I noticed it says you are on Blogger, that is what I am on and I don't see anything to set it up this way.

    Thank you


  4. Dave,
    Check out this article from Denmark: