African American Heritage

Black History Guide: The Diaspora

The records in this section concern United States' government interaction with countries that contain peoples of the African diaspora. Included are records relating to the Panama Canal, U.S. involvement in African countries, and governments of Caribbean Nations.

Choose a records type to begin browsing, and click on the National Archives Identifier (NAID) to go to the full records description in the National Archives Catalog:

Textual | Photographic | Motion Pictures | Electronic

Textual Records

Record Group 55 - Records of the Government of the Virgin Islands

William H. Hastie (1904-1976)

The following series relate to William H. Hastie, Governor of the Virgin Islands (1946–1949). He graduated magna cum laude with an A. B. degree from Amherst College in Massachusetts, and received his Bachelor of Laws degree in 1930 and his Doctor of Juridical Science in 1933 from Harvard Law School. Also in 1933, Hastie was appointed as President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Race Relations Advisor and later given the position as Assistant Solicitor of the Department of Interior where he wrote the constitution for the U. S. Virgin Islands. In March 1937, Hastie was appointed as judge of the Federal District Court in the Virgin Islands. He resigned two years later to become the Dean at Howard University School of Law in Washington, D. C.

  • Annual Reports of the Governor and other Officials, 1917-1949
    National Archives Identifier: 4526999

    Extent: 5 linear feet, 3 linear inches
    This series is arranged in two groups. Reports to 1943 are arranged chronologically by date of report, and reports after 1943 are arranged by name of office and thereunder chronologically. It consists of copies of annual reports of the Governor which were sent to the President in the period 1917–1930 and, after 1930, to the Secretary of the Interior; and copies of annual reports of subordinate offices to the Governor.
  • Correspondence of Executive Officials, 1920-1950
    National Archives Identifier: 4527049

    Extent: 7 linear feet, 10 linear inches
    his series is arranged hierarchically by title of official, thereunder chronologically by tenure of each office. It consists of correspondence of Governors Sumner Kittelle (1920–1923); Henry Hough (1922–1923); Martin Trench (1925–1926); Lawrence Cramer (1935–1940); Charles Harwood (1941–1945); and William H. Hastie (1946–1949). Also in this series are correspondence of the Despatching Secretary for the period 1918–1922; Government Secretary Morris de Castro (1947–1950); and of the Executive Assistant during 1942.

Freedom Charters, 1815-1830

National Archives Identifier: 624724
Extent: 2 linear inches
This series is arranged chronologically. It contains a register of free Blacks and the documents proving their status. These records are written in Danish.

General Correspondence [Guvernements Sekretariatet], compiled 1848–1917

National Archives Identifier: 620186

Extent: 152 linear feet, 4 linear inches
This series is unarranged. It contains records of the Colonial Councils; probate records; court records; auction records; public health records; police and legal records; immigration records; school records; law and ordinance records; records concerning foreign consulates; records of government accounts; and some records related to state and private plantations. These records are written in Danish.

Photographic Materials

Record Group 40 - General Records of the Department of Commerce

Photographs Collected by Emmer Lancaster, Advisor on Negro Affairs, Office of the Secretary, 1940-1953

National Archives Identifier: 513467
Local Identifier: 40-NA

Extent: 1 linear foot, 5 linear inches
This series is arranged by subject, thereunder alphabetically by name of business or individual. Because the original arrangement of the photographs in RG 40-NA has been lost, the Still Picture Branch grouped the images into four broad subject categories. The first category contains images from the conferences on the "Negro in Business". This category also includes images of departmental activities of Secretary Charles Sawyer (1948–1952) and Emmer Lancaster, photographed by Commerce Department photographer E. D. Eaton. The second category includes photographs of various black businesses in operation. The third category consists of images on heads of institutions of higher learning and promotional material from West Virginia State College in Institute, West Virginia and Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

The fourth category includes portraits of African American businessmen and women. The photographs in the last three categories appear to have been sent to Lancaster at his request. A substantial proportion of the portraits came from the photo morgue of the Baltimore Afro-American newspaper. Notable persons represented include: actor Paul Robeson, actress Lena Horne, Governor of the Virgin Islands Morris F. DiCastro, Jean H. Brierre, Under Secretary of State for Tourism, Haiti, E. Cris Le Maitre of Trinidad; and West African businessman W. J. Kwesi Mould.

Record Group 55 - Records of the Government of the Virgin Islands

Living Conditions and Public Works in the US Virgin Islands, compiled 1931–1943

National Archives Identifier: 516572
Extent: 1 linear foot, 1 linear inch
The photographs in this series are arranged by subject. They primarily document relief and rehabilitation projects sponsored by the Civil Works Administration (CWA), the Public Works Administration (PWA), the Works Projects Administration (WPA), and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the United States Virgin Islands. These projects, administered by the governor of the Virgin Islands, sought to improve housing, public buildings, parks, roads, health, and general living conditions on St. Thomas and St. Croix. Photographs of road construction, camp facilities, renovations, conservation and construction in progress are included in the series. Other subjects include living conditions of the poor, schools, jails, scenic shots of harbors and the terrain, landmarks, and a leper asylum on St. Croix.

Motion Pictures

Electronic Records