American Samoa Church Records

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For information about records for non-Christian religions in American Samoa, go to the Religious Records page.

History[edit | edit source]

Major Christian denominations on the island include the Congregational Christian Church in American Samoa, the Catholic Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Methodist Church of Samoa. Collectively, these churches account for the vast majority of the population.

J. Gordon Melton in his book claims that the Methodists, Congregationalists with the London Missionary Society, and Roman Catholics led the first Christian missions to the islands. Other denominations arrived later, beginning in 1895 with the Seventh-day Adventists, various Pentecostals (including the Assemblies of God), Church of the Nazarene, Jehovah's Witnesses and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

According to Pew Research Center, 98.3% of the total population is Christian. Among Christians, 59.5% are Protestant, 19.7% are Roman Catholic and 19.2% are other Christians. A major Protestant church on the island, gathering a substantial part of the local Protestant population, is the Congregational Christian Church in American Samoa, a Reformed denomination in the Congregationalist tradition. As of August 2017, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints website claims membership of 16,180 or one-quarter of the whole population, with 41 congregations, and 4 family history centers in American Samoa. Jehovah's Witnesses claim 210 "ministers of the word" and 3 congregations.[1]

Information Recorded in the Records[edit | edit source]

Different denominations, different time periods, and practices of different record keepers will effect how much information can be found in the records. This outline will show the types of details which might be found (best case scenario):

Baptisms[edit | edit source]

In Catholic and Anglican records, children were usually baptized a few days after birth, and therefore, the baptism record proves date of birth. Other religions, such as Baptists, baptized at other points in the member's life. Baptism registers might give:

  • baptism date
  • the infant's name
  • parents' names
  • father's occupation
  • status of legitimacy
  • occasionally, names of grandparents
  • names of witnesses or godparents, who may be relatives
  • birth date and place
  • the family's place of residence
  • death information, as an added note or signified by a cross

Marriages[edit | edit source]

Marriage registers can give:

  • the marriage date
  • the names of the bride and groom
  • indicate whether the bride and groom were single or widowed
  • their ages
  • birth dates and places for the bride and groom
  • their residences
  • their occupations
  • birthplaces of the bride and groom
  • parents' names (after 1800)
  • the names of previous spouses and their death dates
  • names of witnesses, who might be relatives.

Burials[edit | edit source]

Burial registers may give:

  • the name of the deceased
  • the date and place of death or burial
  • the deceased's age
  • place of residence
  • cause of death
  • the names of survivors, especially a widow or widower
  • deceased's birth date and place
  • parents' names, or at least the father's name

How to Find Records[edit | edit source]

Digital Copies of Church Records in the FamilySearch Catalog[edit | edit source]

Watch for digitized copies of church records to be added to the collection of the FamilySearch Library. Some records might have viewing restrictions, and can only be viewed at a Family History Center near you, and/or by members of supporting organizations. To find records:

a. Click on the records of American Samoa.
b. Click on Places within American Samoa and a list of towns will appear.
c. Click on your town if it appears, or the location which you believe was the parish which served your town or village.
d. Click on the "Church records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
e. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the listing for the record. FHL icons.png. The magnifying glass indicates that the record is indexed. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the records.

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

You will probably need to write to or email the national archives, the diocese, or local parish priests to find records. See the Letter Writing Guide for Genealogy for help with composing letters.

Catholic Records[edit | edit source]

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

Earlier records can be held at the diocese, with more recent records still kept in the local parish. To locate the mailing address or e-mail address for a diocese or local parish, consult:

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

  • The First Catholic missionaries, Marists, landed in Samoa in 1845.[2]
  • The tiny Diocese of Samoa–Pago Pago is arguably the smallest, most remote and exotically located grantee of Catholic Missions. It covers five islands and two coral atolls in American Samoa, an unincorporated territory of the United States in the South Pacific Ocean. There are seventeen parishes on Tutuila, a narrow, tropical island that is the population center of the territory. The diocese also has a small mission on the island of Manu’a, which is reached by a five-hour boat ride from Tutuila. Catholics comprise about one-quarter of the total population of 66,000 people. Parishes vary in size and accessibility. Tutuila’s main road does not provide access to the entire volcanic island and parishes off the main road are hard to reach without a good SUV. The parish on Manu’a is composed of only four families led by a catechist.[3]

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Records[edit | edit source]

Online Records[edit | edit source]

Online information is available to current members, for deceased members and immediate family members who are still living. Sign in to FamilySearch and then select Family Tree in the drop-down menu.

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

In May 1843, 13 years after The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized in the United States, four men were sent to be missionaries in the islands of the Pacific.

Elder Joseph H. Dean and his wife, Florence Ridges Dean, arrived in Samoa in 1888. Missionaries were again sent to Tutuila. By 1891 the mission in Samoa, with headquarters near Apia, was developing steadily. The first branch (a small congregation) was started in Pago Pago on May 27, 1893, and before the turn of the century, 11 branches had been organized on the island.

Membership in 1990 was 7,500, increasing to about 12,000 in 1994. Today, more than one in four American Samoans are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.[4]

Congregational Christian Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

Write to of email the mail office:

CCCAS Main Office
P.O. Box 1537
Pago Pago, AS 96799

+1 (684) 699-9810

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

The Congregational Christian Church in Samoa traces its beginnings to the arrival in 1830 of missionaries sent by the London Missionary Society, accompanied by missionary teachers from Tahiti and the Cook Islands and a Samoan couple from Tonga. They arrived at a time of fierce warfare and fighting between local chiefs, and the people who were weary of violence and bloodshed readily received the missionary's gospel of peace.

When a renowned paramount chief of a much respected family lineage officially accepted the new religion, all his followers and kinsfolk immediately followed suit. Within a few years, virtually the whole of Samoa was converted to Christianity. A burning zeal for the gospel was engendered within the spirit of the newly converted nation.

Within the first years of their work, the LMS missionaries developed a Samoan alphabet and put the language into written form. The setting-up of the first printing press in Samoa (1839), only the second in the Pacific region, was a mark of the missionary zeal to bring the people to understand the gospel through the written word. By 1855 the whole Bible was translated into Samoan. By the end of the 19th century, a pattern of ministry had emerged. It was modeled on the Samoan village structural organization and aimed at preserving, as much as possible, the value systems of the Samoan way of life. The church community functions in the same way as the village, where five main groups - matais (titled men), spouses of matais, untitled men, unmarried women, and children - each have their own individual and corporate roles and responsibilities for the maintenance of order and welfare. The village congregation is the basic unit of the CCCS with the pastor as the spiritual leader.[5]

Methodist Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

Malaeloa Methodist Church
96799 Malaeloa/Aitulagi
American Samoa

Iesu Le Sulu Moni Methodist Church
American Samoa

Vatia Methodist Church Vatia
American Samoa

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

When the first missionary arrived in 1835, some 2,000 Samoans were already following Lotu Tonga (Tongan religion). They worshipped in rough chapels, observing a few basic Christian practices taught them by a Samoan chief who had embraced Christianity in Tonga and on his return had become a missionary to his own country. In 1839, it was ordered that Methodism be abandoned, and the missionary left the country. But Methodism survived, and for 18 years it was served by Tongan and Samoan teachers. In 1856 the conference in Australia decided to resume the work in Samoa.[6]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "America Samoa Religion", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 20 February 2020.
  2. Catholic Encyclopedia, "Samoa",, accessed 21 February 2020.
  3. Beth Griffin, "Small Islands, Big Faith", Catholic Home Missions Newsletter, Fall, 2014., accessed 21 February 2020.
  4. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, "Facts and Statistics: American Samoa",, accessed 21 February 2020.
  5. World Council of Churches, "Congregational Christian Church in Samoa',, accessed 21 February 2020.
  6. World Council of Churches, "Methodist Church of Samoa",, accessed 21 February 2020.