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The West Indies

This is where you will find sources for the history of the Danish colony in the West Indies. The colony consisted of the islands of St. Thomas, St. John (St. Jan) and St. Croix and belonged to Denmark between 1672 and 1917. They were then sold to the USA and were given their present name, the US Virgin Islands. The history of the Danish West Indies differs from that of the rest of Denmark in many ways; for example some of the sources are in English and Dutch.

Name Description Read more about
Accounts (West Indies) This contains information about all types of accounts and auditing concerning the Danish West Indies. The material consists of e.g. tax, duties, excise, payroll, revenues from the sale of goods or property, statements to do with municipal finances, public and private loans etc.
Census (West Indies) This contains lists of the population of the Danish West Indies with names and other information such as property, age, gender, religion, family, place of birth etc. This includes e.g. actual censuses, but also muster rolls, land registers, church books and reports about births and deaths.
Church and mission (West Indies) This contains information about churches and missions in the Danish West Indies. There were four big church communities: the Lutheran Church, the Reformed Church, the Roman Catholic Church and the Moravian Brothers. The material contains e.g. church books and the special reports about births, confirmations, marriages and deaths.
Crafts and service (West Indies) This contains information about private enterprises in the Danish West Indies that were not directly involved in exporting commodities, i.e. everything from banks to butchers, rum stands and other retail trade.
Defence forces (West Indies) This contains information about the defence forces in the Danish West Indies. There were basically three parts: army with cavalry, infantry and artillery in the garrison in the towns, a naval force that most often consisted of a couple of warships stationed in the biggest towns, and a citizens' militia, that was also centered in in the three towns. The military force was abolished in 1906 and was replaced by the West Indian gendarmerie corps, which also served as a police force.
Foreign relations (West Indies) This contains information about relations with foreign countries in the Danish West Indies. The material consists of e.g. correspondence with foreign govenors and nations and accounts of matters in other places in the Caribbean.
General administration (West Indies) This contains material pertaining to various forms of administrative casework in both the local and the central administration of the Danish West Indies, e.g. correspondence, copybooks, minutes, registers, drafts of letters etc.
Health (West Indies) This contains information about the health system in the Danish West Indies. The material concerns e.g. hospitals, quarantine, vaccination, pharmacies, midwives, the district doctor, garrison surgeons and annual medical reports.
Maps and drawings (West Indies) This contains maps and drawings from the former Danish colonies in the West Indies, Guinea, India and the Nicobar Islands. The collection is divided into two archives; The Chamber of Revenue (maps and drawings predating 1848) and the Central Directorate for the Colonies (maps and drawings postdating 1848). The material includes maps of each of the colonies, town maps, charts (especially for approaching harbors), draughts of coasts, prospects, and building designs for government facilities (for instance fortifications) including designs for building projects that were never carried out. In addition, there are a few photographs.
Muster rolls (West Indies) This contains information about different types of name lists of public employees, soldiers, gendarmes etc. in the Danish West Indies.
Nature (West Indies) This contains information about natural phenomena which interested the authorities in the Danish West Indies. , i.e. the destructive hurricanes and earthquakes and measurements of rainfall, which was often too poor for cultivating sugar.
Persons (West Indies) This contains information about some private persons who for one reason or another were under investigation by the Danish-West Indian authorities. The material is often court cases, personnel cases, probate cases and accounts.
Plantations (West Indies) This contains information about individual plantations which were under investigation by the Danish West Indian authorities for one reason or another. Much of the material concerns plantations owned by the West India company or plantations that went bankrupt and reverted to the state as main creditor. The material is usually accounts, reports, and correspondence.
Police, jails and fire service (West Indies) This contains information about the police, jails and the fire service in the Danish West Indies and includes cases concerning jails, those arrested, the police court, criminal cases and police cases.
Post and telegraph (West Indies) This contains information about the postal service in the Danish West Indies and the telegraph service that was established in 1872.
Property registers (West Indies) This contains information about ownership of land, buildings and slaves as well as land surveys in the Danish West indies. The material is mainly related to land registers, i.e. a list of properties for assessing property and personal tax.
Public works and buildings (West Indies) This contains information about buildings and works related to the Danish West Indies, i.e. concerning construction and maintenance of public buildings (forts, hospitals etc.), production buildings (sugar refineries), streets and roads, bridges, harbours and other works.
Schools (West Indies) This contains information about the educational system in the Danish West Indies.
Shipping (West Indies) This contains information about shipping in the Danish West Indies. The material concerns in particular ships belonging to the trading companies and Danish warships. It consists of e.g. ships' logbooks, inventories, accounts, ships' papers, cases about privateers and piracy, instructions and cases to do with shipyards and pilots.
Slaves (West Indies) This contains information about conditions for slaves in the Danish West Indies. The material in the collection has been selected because it contains particularly much information about slaves and slavery. As slaves were an integrated part of society in the Danish West Indies until 1848, you can also find information about slaves in many other archive series than those mentioned here. The collection contains e.g. slave legislation, narratives by slaves and plantation reports.
Social conditions (West Indies) This contains information about the social system in the Danish West Indies. The material concerns poor relief, support, working conditions and pensions.
The British occupations (West Indies) This contains information related to the two British occupations of the Danish West Indies (1801-02 and 1807-15)
The Gold Coast (West Indies) This contains information about the colony on the Gold Coast (in present-day Ghana). The two colonies were administratively connected because of the trade in slaves from the Gold Coast to the West Indies. Therefore, material from the Gold Coast is also placed here together with the West Indian. The material primarily concerns trade and accounts.
The legal system and legislation (West Indies) This contains information about the legal system in the Danish West Indies. The material concerns both civil and criminal law and the current legislation for the islands (locally and centrally adopted, respectively) and the drafting of such legislation. The material concerns all the different court instances related to the islands: the police court, the probate court, the guest court, the company court etc.
The probate system (West Indies) This contains information about the probate system in the Danish West Indies, including the special military and ecclesiastical probate courts. The material concerns all types of inheritance issues, wills, guardianship issues, registrations and valuations.
Trade (West Indies) This contains material about the Danish trading companies and firms, i.e. correspondence, accounts, lists of goods in the warehouses, ships' cargoes, ships' logbooks, auction lists, payrolls, dividends and much more.
This is where you will find sources for the history of the Danish colony in the West Indies. The colony consisted of the islands of St. Thomas, St. John (St. Jan) and St. Croix and belonged to Denmark between 1672 and 1917. They were then sold to the USA and were given their present name, the US Virgin Islands. The history of the Danish West Indies differs from that of the rest of Denmark in many ways; for example some of the sources are in English and Dutch.