About Danish West Indies, Denmark, Records of Enslaved People, 1672-1917
This database contains Danish records relating to slavery in what became the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The Danish presence in the Caribbean began in the mid-17th century, and in 1754 the islands of St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John became Danish colonies known as the Danish West Indies. Sugar was an important industry into the 19th century, and slaves were imported to provide labor for the islands’ plantations. Slavery ended in 1848, and the islands were purchased by the United States in 1916 to become the U.S. Virgin Islands in 1917.
What You Can Find in the Records
During Danish rule, officials kept voluminous records, including the slave-related records found in this database. They include the following:
- case papers concerning contested slave ownership
- emancipation records
- registers of free men, women, and children of color
- lists of baptisms, marriages, and burials
- lists of slave owners and former slaves
- mortgages and loans
- slave lists and censuses
- records of Royal Blacks
- compensation agreements
- courts martial
The records can be a valuable source of names, dates, places, and other details. These records have not yet been indexed, but they can be browsed by record type. Most of the records are in Danish.
11 Feb 2020: This collection was previously published as image only. The collection has since been indexed and this update adds 80,184 new records.