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23 May 2012

U.S. Virgin Islands census records

Much has been made on this blog of the influence the Caribbean Islands have had on early American Jewish communities. With so many people using the Caribbean as their destination after leaving Amsterdam and London, it is an important place to research in building those early families.
A very valuable source in locating these families are the census records from the U.S. Virgin Islands. These records, which are on microfilm in the collection of the Family History Library, date from 1841 to 1911. Unlike the census records from the British Isles, which were taken every 10 years, this collection is taken more often, usually about every five years. There are some censuses taken more often such as 1855 and 1857 followed by 1860.
The records are very nice and identify the families by religion. The record below is of the De Leon family living in Christiansted on the Island of St. Croix, this is taken from the 1841 census (FHL Film #39201)


This record shows how this family is very much like many of the families. The father was born in Amsterdam, the first child in St. Thomas and the rest in St. Croix. All 10 members of the family are listed as being part of the Israelite religion.
The record below, also from Christiansted is from the 1846 Census (FHL Film #39305). The head of the family is Sarah Amalia Coopmann who like all the family was born in St. Croix.


An interesting point from this is under the heading of religion it states; Jewish Church. Not exactly a way I have ever seen the Jewish religion referred to.
These census records, which in whole covers 71 rolls of microfilm, are a valuable source for anyone researching ancestors who either lived in the Caribbean or found themselves in early U.S. communities. and may have passed through.

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