Historical scenes from American Samoa's first Flag Day of April 17th 1900...
ASG Archives and Records Center
American Samoa's Office of Archives and Records Management (OARM) is part of the Executive Branch under the Dept. of Administrative Services. While primarily a records management service for government offices, we also help the general public with government archives and records copy needs. For example, One U.S. National Parent Law archival evidence researches are often conducted on Censuses, Passenger Lists and Tax lists. OARM therefore provides certified legal information for the public from various archives and records.
We also guide local and national researchers to various holdings, such as High Court Matai and Land Title cases and/or public government files and media from the Executive, Legislative and Judicial Branches. Research about American Samoa's indigenous language and culture is also available. Practical advice on how to recover and conserve archives and records after disasters is also offered.
Regular guidance to government offices about creating, controlling, storing and preserving archives and destroying temporary records and non-records is also done in accordance with local and national laws. Visit us in Tafuna, Tutuila, American Samoa or call for an appointment at 684-699-6848.
Territorial Archivist of American Samoa Himphill James B., CA
ASG Archives and Records document 5 of Samoa's 31 centuries...
On March 2nd, 1606, Spanish Explorer Fernando Quiros chanced upon an atoll while exploring the Southwest Pacific. Indigenous Tokelauans welcomed their discovery and in the following centuries gradually became accustomed to Western Religion and Culture. American Samoa's written history therefore dates from it's rediscovery by European explorers during the 17th Century. The Tokelau atoll mentioned here was eventually destined to become Swains Island in 1929, a part of today's American Samoa. Dutch Explorers also discovered the nearby Tonga and Futuna islands during those initial contact times. OARM keeps copies of several 17th century Spanish and Dutch Explorers journals and prints, along with later publications about the earliest visits.
Derived from the nearby Fiji and Tonga islander archipelagos, the Samoans are rich in historical myths, legends, traditional customs, material culture and language. Family chief titles have resided continuously in their villages for over three millennia. American Samoa is the eastern region of the Samoan Island archipelago. In the Eighteenth Century, the Dutch Admiral Roggeveen became the first to anchor at easternmost Samoa in 1722. French Admirals Bougainville and L'Perouse followed to map and explore island waters in 1768 and 1787. Famed British Captain Vancouver also stopped at Samoa during a search for the Tahitian Mutiny on the Bounty mutineers in 1791. The twentieth century French trading card shown above illustrates an infamous attack on the first 1787 French Explorers ashore at Tutuila, Am. Samoa. OARM's retains copies of this and other various Eighteenth century manuscripts and publications written by the early European Explorers, along with prints and references detailing 18th Century Samoan Culture.
Samoa was once so faraway and isolated from Western "Civilization" that Whaleboat Deserters and Australian Convicts soon began hiding there during the early 1800s. The skills and tools of these foreigners were novel and soon adopted by Samoans. The Samoans also encountered the Russian Von Kotzbue Expedition of 1817 and other French Explorers in 1826. Rudimentary knowledge of European languages and Christianity therefore grew and in 1836, the first group of missionaries arrived. These British London Missionary Society missionaries from Tahiti soon established churches and mission schools on each island. Literacy and social and technological innovations quickly advanced, as depicted above in a c1837 image of an annual Church feast. American Explorer Captain Charles Wilkes followed to survey the islands in 1839 and, created the first U.S. Commercial trade agent. Britain and German trade agents soon followed, along with mercantile firms from their home countries. The popularity of religion, education, and foreign goods eventually led to the first western style Samoan Government in 1875. Resultant local and international politics caused strife however and due to resultant civil warfares and a revolution, the Samoan Islands were divided and annexed by the German, British and American powers on Dec. 2nd, 1899 in order to establish peace, law and order. OARM's 19th Century microfilm archives are mostly comprised of International Consulate and Church records c1839-1899, along with the first Samoan Government records from 1875-1899. OARM also holds reference copies of numerous articles, newspapers and publications written about Samoa by many transient visitors and authors, such as Robert Louis Stevenson and Lauli'i Willis.
On April 17th, 1900 at Sogelau, Tutuila (above) the Eastern Samoan Island Chiefs of Tutuila and Manu'a accepted the 1899 American Annexation after the Western Samoans had accepted their German Annexation. Old Glory was raised on a hill overlooking the new Pago Pago Harbor U.S. Naval Station Wharf constructions (above). German Samoa subsequently developed the western islands until the first World War of 1914, when it changed into New Zealand's British Samoa. After WWII in 1945, British Samoa affiliated with the United Nations to become self governing and the Independent Nation of Western Samoa then regained it's own Flag 17 yrs. later in 1962. In contrast, the American Samoans of the Eastern Islands have preferred an American economy and lifestyle since 1900. Their history is one of being a U.S. Naval Station until WWII. This was followed by a Presidential transfer to the civilian Department of Interior in 1951. The development of a Legislature and Judicial System then occured during the late 1940s and 1950s, when their Constitution was written. The creation of an electorate and quasi Self Government then came about by referendum in 1978, when a Governor and Congressional Representative were elected to be by popular vote. OARM's Twentieth Century records are primarily on microfilm along with a small quantity of extant files, photos, publications, film and audiotape holdings. Earlier American Samoa Archives prior to 1978 are held at several U.S. National Archives facilities.
Access to the majority of OARM's Twentieth and Twenty-First Century inactive records remain with originating ASG agencies. Researchers requesting information or copies from 1995-2020 must obtain authorization from the originating agency. In this regard, OARM generally follows the federal 25 year guideline and restrictions for any release of information. However, public archives more than 90 yrs. old and ASG publications and Finding Guides are essentially open if not otherwise restricted.
HISTORY OF THE ASG ARCHIVES AND RECORDS CENTER
Prior to 1978, the U.S. Navy and Dept. of Interior had not established a local archives dept. or records building in American Samoa. In 1969, the majority of local government archives were sent to the U.S. National Archives in San Francisco by DOI Governor Owen Aspinal. With the start of a local Am. Samoa Government electorate in 1978, remaining government archives were recognized and stored at several intermediate locations. These included the Fagatogo and Utulei administrative buildings, a Samoana High School WWII era quonset hut, an old Naval Station warehouse in Fagatogo, and a prior Tafuna Air Force Housing cafeteria. The need for local Archives and Records Management laws and regulations was then acknowledged and created by the Am. Samoa Legislature in 1984 and placed under the Executive Branch. An initial Records Management Office was subsequently transferred to the Dept. of Administrative Services by Executive Order in 1985 after a permanent staff and location were established. The first ASG Archives Office occupied a renovated 1908 Naval Station Jail with the Territorial Registrar Office. In 1991 the Territorial Registrar was transferred to the Office of the Attorney General and became a separate facility. A new Records Center named after Governor Peter Tali Coleman was then built and dedicated at Tafuna in 1991. The National Historical Registry Naval Station Jail Archives was afterwards consolidated and moved into the new Tafuna Records Center in 1998. The current Office of Archives and Records Management (OARM) is therefore staffed by a Territorial Archivist, Division Head, Senior Adm. Asst and four Adm. Assistants to serve your information needs. OARM functions under ASCA Title 4 Ch 12 and ASAC Title 2 Ch 3 regulations.
Policies and Procedures
and Judicial Branch:
Policies and Procedures
ASCA Regulations and
Policies and Record Schedule
Record Transfer Destruction
Instructions Permission form.
T27 U.S. Consuls Samoa microfilms
T1182 Am. Samoa Govt. microfilms
Matai and Land Title microfilms
ASG Record Groups list
T27 T1182 Matai Land T802
T802 Microfilm link:
Genealogy Finding Guide 2021!
Museum of American Samoa
Feleti Barstow Library
Am. Samoa Historical Preservation Office
DHS Office of Vital Statistics
Am. Samoa Community College
Amerika Samoa Arts Council
Amerika Samoa Humanities Council
U.S. National Archives
Council of State and Territorial Archivists