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Revision as of 03:10, 30 January 2013

United States Gotoarrow.png American Samoa

American Samoa Wiki Topics
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Beginning Research
Record Types
American Samoa Background
Local Research Resources
{| class="FCK__ShowTableBorders" border="0" cellspacing="1" cellpadding="2" width="75%" |- | style="text-align: center; font-family: verdana; color: rgb(0,51,102); font-size: 150%" height="30" valign="bottom" colspan="2" align="center" | Welcome to American Samoa |-


American Samoa flag.png

Six Polynesian Islands

American (Amerika) Samoa is a group of Polynesian islands in the South Pacific. Fourteen degrees below the equator, it is the United States' southern-most territory. It is known as the heart of Polynesia. If you drew a triangle from Hawaii, New Zealand and Tahiti you would find Samoa in the middle. Western Samoa is a neighboring independent country that shares the same culture. American Samoa became an unorganized U.S. territory in 1900.

The Samoans arguably represent the largest population of Polynesian people and they take pride in a strong culture that has survived outside incursions amazingly well. For more information about Samoa see Samoa (Western and American).

American Samoa is the southernmost unincorporated territory of the United States. It is west of the Cook Islands and north of Tonga and southeast of the Independent State of Samoa (formerly known as Western Samoa). Made up of a chain of five islands and two atolls, the American Samoa territory includes Tutuila, the Manu'a Islands, Rose Atoll, and Swains Island. There are more than 55,000 people living in the 76.1 square miles of American Samoa.

The history of American Samoa begins long before the first European contact, a Dutchman named Jacob Roggeveen (1659-1729). The first European explorer was Louis-Antone de Bougainville (1729-1811) from France, and he named the islands the "Navigator Islands" in 1768. It was not until the 1830's that English missionaries and traders began arriving, beginning with John Williams of the London Missionary Society. The Samoans ferociously battled the explorers and visitors, culminating in a battle at Massacre Bay that left them with the reputation of being savage and warlike. Despite the violent altercations between the native Somoans and the European visitors, American Samoa quickly became a refueling station for French, British, German, and American vessels.

Although the French and British were soon pushed out by the Germans and Americans, these international visitors shared the resources found in the Islands until 1889, when a German naval force invaded a village and in process destroyed some American property. This led to declarations of war, which was averted by a typhone that wrecked both countries' ships. The rivalry was settled in 1899 by the Tripartite Convention, which divided the islands into two parts: the eastern islands now known as American Samoa became a territory of America, and the Germans took the western islands.

The American refueling station became an official naval station when the United States began to formally occupy the territory. The Navy secured deeds of the land in 1900 (Cession of Tutuila) and 1904 (Cession of Manu'a). The area was officially renamed "American Samoa" in 1911. The Swain Island was annexed in 1925. The US Department of Interior attempted to incorporate American Somoa in 1949, but this was defeated by the efforts of Samoan chiefs (led by Tuiasosopo Mariota). These chiefs created a local legislature in Fagatogo, which is now considered the territory's captial (though the US lists Pago Pago as the capital because that is where they had the naval base). American Samoa's own consistution, confirming the status as self-governing, became effective in 1967. However, the UN lists American Somoa as a "Non-Self-Governing Territory", to which the local leaders protest and dispute. The Governor of American Samoa is the head of government, and is elected by popular vote for four year-terms.

People born in American Samoa are American nationals, but not American citizens unless a parent is a citizen. This means they have unrestricted entry into the United States, but cannot vote in presidential elections. They do have one non-voting delegate to the United States House of Representatives.

American Samoa is divided into three districts: Eastern, Western, and Manu'a. It also has two unorganized atolls, Swains Island and Rose Atoll (which is uninhabited). These districts and atolls are divided into 74 villages. The language is Samoan, closely related to the Hawaiian language. More than 91% of the people are native Somoans, as well as 3% Asian, 1% Caucasian, and 4% mixed. Most of these people identify as Christian (50% Christian Congregationalist, 20% Roman Catholic, 30% Protestant), and of these about one in four belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Family History Centers

Pago Pago American Samoa Central
Pago Samoa Central Stake Center
Pago Pago, American Samoa
Hours: T-F 5pm-7pm,

Pago Pago American Samoa Mapusaga
Pago Samoa Stake Center
Pago Pago, American Samoa
Hours: Tues-Fri 4-7

Pago Pago American Samoa West
Pago Samoa Stake Center
Pago Pago, American Samoa
Phone: 1-684-699-7726
Hours: Tues-Fri 3:00-6:00; Sat 7:30-2:30

Pago Pago Samoa
Pago Samoa Stake Center
Pago Pago, American Samoa
Phone: 1-684-633-2480
Hours: Tues-Sat 3-6

Featured Content

Wiki articles describing online collections are found at:

Research Tools

  • Pacific Island Guide to Family History Research (Wiki article)
  • The Cole Jensen Collection:  An important collection of compiled genealogies from Samoa is found in the Cole Jensen Collection: Oral Genealogies and Genealogical Information Collected from the Polynesian Peoples and from the Pacific Islands. These records were collected by William Cole and Elwin Jensen over a period of 50 years and microfilmed by the Genealogical Department of the LDS Church in 1984. The original collection consisted of 51 binders. The original materials no longer exist as an intact collection. However, there are nine microfilms (1358001-1358009) available at various family History centers. This collection has family group records, pedigree charts, oral genealogies, and other genealogical materials collected from the islands of Hawaii, New Zealand, Samoa, Tonga, Niue, Cook Islands, and Frenach Polynesia, including the Society, Marquesas, Austral Islands, and the Tuamotu Archipelago.  Microfilms with information from Samoa are:
  • 1358004: Samoan genealogy, Woolley Collection, Volume 1: Mata'upu , Alisa Toelupe O Maga, Selele or Aiaifua, Laula lula'a Johnson, Gafa o Frank Burgess of Neiafu Book, and Burgess in a collection from the courthouse in Pago Pago. .
  • 1358005: The entire microfilm is of the Polynesian Genealogies; Gafa Samoa from the F. Wooley Collection
  • 1358006: Samoan family group records, pedigree charts, and other misc. records with names, dtes, and places.
  • 1358007: Family pedigree charts of Polynesian families of Samoa, Hawaii, New Aealand, Tahiti, and Philipines. (the charts are not in alphabetical order).
  • 1358008: Samoan genealogy records from the Wooley Collection of Pedigree Charts and Llineages of Samoa with a 45 page index, 258 pedigree charts in alphabetical order.

FamilySearch Resources

  • The FamilySearch Wiki article on Saman (Western and American) is HERE.
  • Collectively, the Samoan records (baptisms and deaths) online thus far are HERE.
  • The Family History Library includes THIS BOOK of related genealogy directories.
  • Check out the FamilySearch American Samoa FACEBOOK PAGE!

Website Resources

  • For information (mailing address and cost) about obtaining birth, marriage, and death records from American Samoa, SEE HERE.
  • To contact the American Samoa Government in regards to vital records, SEE HERE.
  • For American Samoa death records and certificates, SEE HERE.
  • For many links and resources for American Samoa, see KINDRED TRAILS.
  • For more genealogy resources for American Samoa, see GENWEB.
  • Ancestry's American Samoa resources are HERE.
  • This blogger shares many American Samoa resources!

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