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U.S. Virgin Islands Church Records

U.S. Virgin Islands Wiki Topics
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Beginning Research
Record Types
Country Background
Local Research Resources

For information about records for non-Christian religions in the United States Virgin Islands, go to the Religious Records page.


Online Resources and Websites

Ancestry.com, findmypast.com, and MyHeritage.com can be searched free of charge at your local family history center or the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Historical Background

Christianity is the dominant religion in the U.S. Virgin Islands. According to Pew Research Center, 94.8% of the population was Christian in 2010. The largest Christian denominations in the 2010 census were Baptist, Roman Catholic, and Episcopalian.

Owing to both their Danish past and American present, Protestantism on the islands has long been widespread. It was first introduced when Lutheranism was brought to the islands in the Danish colonization. The Danish crown also allowed other religious traditions on the islands including Anglicanism, Roman Catholicism, the Moravian Church and other Protestant groups. Historically, St. Thomas and St. Croix are known for missionary efforts undertaken by the Moravian missionaries. They were allowed on the islands by the Danish royal court, but came under scrutiny when they denounced slavery.A number of neo-Protestant traditions including Pentecostalism, various evangelical Protestants and the Seventh-day Adventists arrived later with the switch of allegiance from Denmark to the United States.[1]

As in most Caribbean countries, Christianity is the dominant religion in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Protestantism is most prevalent, reflecting the territory's Danish colonial heritage. There is also a strong Roman Catholic presence. Protestants makes up 59% (Baptist 42%, Episcopalian 17%) of the total religious population on the islands. Roman Catholics are 34% of the religious population.[2]

Information Recorded in the Records

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

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

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

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

Digital Copies of Church Records in the FamilySearch Catalog

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 the Virgin Islands (U.S.).
b. Click on Places within the Virgin Islands (U.S.) 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

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



Anglican (Episcopal) Church Records

Writing for Records

Historical Background

The Episcopal Diocese of the Virgin Islands is a diocese of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America (ECUSA) which includes both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands. The cathedral church of the diocese is the Cathedral Church of All Saints, Charlotte Amalie. The diocese currently comprises 14 churches. [3]

Baptist Church Records

Writing for Records



Catholic Church Records

Writing to a Local Parish

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

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Saint Thomas in the Virgin Islands is a diocese of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church in the Caribbean. The diocese comprises the overseas dependency of the U.S. Virgin Islands, specifically the islands Saint Thomas, Saint Croix and Saint John. The Diocese of Saint Thomas was erected as the Territorial Prelature of the Virgin Islands on April 30, 1960. Its name was changed and was elevated to a diocese on April 20, 1977. It is the only suffragan see of the Archdiocese of Washington. [4]

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Records

Online Records

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

The first missionaries called to St. Croix arrived 28 January 1981. They held meetings in the home of a member, with about 15 attending. A branch (a small congregation) was organized 8 February 1981. A meetinghouse was later built on the island. Branches have been established also on St. John and St. Thomas. The St. Thomas Branch was created 13 December 1977. The first missionaries came to the island in June 1978. The first branch meetinghouse was opened 16 July 1978. Total Church Membership: 561. Congregations: 2. [5]

Lutheran Church Records

Writing for Records

Historical Background

The initial congregation was founded in 1666 by Danish minister Kjeld Jensen who arrived on St. Thomas on an expedition to colonize the island. The first services were held in homes of planters and soldiers, and later in the confines of Fort Christian. The original sanctuary opened in 1793. It replaced two earlier buildings that were destroyed by fire. [6]

Moravian Church Records

Writing for Records

Historical Background

The Moravians were the first Protestants to send missionaries to the West Indies and were in the Danish Islands as early as 1732. They were the only church allowed to minister to the slaves, and were instrumental in establishing Dutch Creole as the language spoken between planters and the enslaved Africans. [7]

Pentecostal Church Records

Writing for Records



Seventh-day Adventist Church Records

Writing for Records



References

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "United States Virgin Islands", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Virgin_Islands, accessed 14 March 2020.
  2. Wikipedia contributors, "Religion in United States Virgin Islands", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_United_States_Virgin Islands, accessed 17 March 2020.
  3. Wikipedia contributors, "Episcopal Diocese of the Virgin Islands", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Episcopal_Diocese_of_the_Virgin_Islands, accessed 17 March 2020.
  4. Wikipedia contributors, "Roman Catholic Diocese of Saint Thomas", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Catholic_Diocese_of_Saint_Thomas, accessed 17 March 2020.
  5. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, "Facts and Statistics: United States Virgin Islands, https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/facts-and-statistics/country/virgin-islands, accessed 17 March 2020.
  6. "Lutheran Church", at VI Now, https://www.vinow.com/stt/stt-a/charlotte-amalie/lutheran-church/, accessed by 17 March 2020.
  7. "The Emmaus Moravian Church and Manse', https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/prvi/pr39.htm, accessed 17 March 2020.