NARA Publication M-1883 on Ancestry.comLongtime 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 Footnote.com) 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, Ancestry.com 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
Indexed M-1883 Free Colored Registers at Ancestry.comWhile it is contained in the set above, Ancestry.com 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.
One 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 ArkivalieronlineThis 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 (http://www.denjyskekirkebog.dk/Div/AO-Rebus.htm). 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.