Research Tips

Written by ASHPO

This page provides tips on how to find sources of information for historical research for American Samoa.

If one lives in American Samoa there are four institutions that hold sources of information on the history of American Samoa, namely, the American Samoa Historic Preservation Office, the Feleti Barstow Public Library, the Office of Archives and Records Management, and the American Samoa Community College Library.

American Samoa Community College (ASCC) Library

The ASCC Library is an academic library with sources geared toward college students and advanced degree studies.  The library houses a Samoan Collection of materials that includes Pacific Journals, such as the Journal of the Polynesian Society, and articles and dissertations that focus on Samoa.  The ASCC website includes a link to the ASCC Library catalogue.  The ASCC website can be found at this URL:  http://www.amsamoa.edu/

American Samoa Historic Preservation Office (ASHPO)

ASHPO is not an archives or library, but ASHPO does hold documents, articles, reports, photographs, and maps related to American Samoa's history that have been gathered during research projects that office has undertaking or funded, as well as archaeological reports that were produced by federal agencies complying with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended. (For an explanation of Section 106 see the "Review and Compliance" section of this website.)

The source materials the ASHPO has are available to the public for review in our offices, and much, though not all, of the material is available for download on this website in the "Download Library" section.  A selection of photographs the office has can be found in the "Photo Gallery" section of our website.

Feleti Barstow Public Library (FBPL)

The FBPL is a general public library that has a wide range of materials.  In addition, to serving the public from a general interest perspective the library also has an extensive Pacific Collection which houses books, articles, and reports relevant to Pacific and Samoan history.   In addition, the FBPL houses a large collection of photographs that are stored in the Polynesian Photo Archive which is a subset of the Pacific Collection.  The FBPL has a website that provides access to their on-line catalogue and a sample of the photographs housed in the Polynesian Photo Archive.  The FBPL website also provides on-line catalogues for ASHPO, the ASCC Library, and the Polynesian Photo Archive.  For more information visit their website at  http://fbpl.org/

Office of Archives and Records Management (OARM)

The American Samoa Government (ASG) Office of Archives and Records Management is a branch of ASG's Department of Administrative Services.  The OARM is the official depository of records of the American Samoa Government.  Records of interest to historians that the OARM houses include census records, records of the Office of the Governor, microfilm copies of records from the Naval Administration Era from 1900-1951, and copies of the Fa'atonu which was the government run newspaper during the Naval Administration.   The phone number for the OARM is (684) 699-5148.

The History of American Samoa: Where do I start?

ASHPO has frequent visitors to our office who seek information on the history of American Samoa.  Most frequently the questions have to do with the history of the Naval Administration Era (1900-1951).  In order to get started on researching this era of American Samoa History we recommend that researchers start with the two books below and the references therein:

Amerika Samoa: A History of American Samoa and Its United States Naval Administration, by Captain J. A. C. Gray (1960) [Note Google Books has a "preview" copy of this book on-line at:  http://books.google.com/books?id=IJ5HAop7ga0C

The Tropical Frontier: America's South Sea Colony by Joseph Kennedy (2009)

I'm interested in Samoan Culture and Traditions; Where do I start?

For those who have more of an interest in the history of the Samoan people and their culture we recommend these books and the references therein as starting points:

The Samoan Islands Volumes I & II  by Augustin Kramer  Translated from the German by Theodore Vehaaren [Volume I contains genealogies, traditional greetings for Samoan villages, and Samoan traditions and legends.  Volume II primarily contains information concerning Samoan material culture, crafts, and flora and fauna.] (1994/1995) [Originally published in German and Samoan in 1901 and 1903]

Samoan Material Culture by Te Rangi Hiroa (Peter Buck) (1930)  This volume contains extensive information on Samoan material culture based on research conducted in the late 1920s.

Samoa: A Hundred Years and Long Before by George Turner (1884) This volume can be found at google books and can be downloaded for free. http://books.google.com/books/about/Samoa_a_hundred_years_ago_and_long_befor.html?id=itaG4-8bglUC

Old Samoa: Flotsam and Jetsam From the Pacific Ocean by Rev. John B. Stair (1897) This volume can be found at google books and can be downloaded for free.  http://books.google.com/books?id=QqATAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=Samoa+stair&hl=en&sa=X&ei=y6_vTpjAAYWPigLbx_GuBA&ved=0CDsQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=Samoa%20stair&f=false

I'm interested in the prehistory/archaeology of Samoa; Where do I start?

Two of the classic references for Samoan and American Samoa prehistory follow:

The Archaeology of Western Samoa. Volumes I & II by Roger C. Green and Janet M. Davidson (1969 and 1974).  (Available for download in the ASHPO Download Library on this website.)

The Toaga Site: Three Millennia of Polynesian Occupation in the Manu'a Islands, American Samoa by Patrick Vinton Kirch and Terry L. Hunt. (1993)

More references can be found on the ASHPO Bibliography page and in the Download Library section of on this website.

Finally, for an extensive collection of articles on Samoan history, culture, and traditions, one can search the Journal of the Polynesian Society's journals on line at  http://www.jps.auckland.ac.nz/