Other collections

Today the great majority of historical documents about the Danish era in the West Indies are located in the Danish National Archives. However, significant collections that communicate the history of the Danish West Indies can also be found elsewhere.

Below is an overview of the most important libraries, museums, literature, and websites.

National Library of Denmark (The Royal Library)

The Manuscript Department of the National Library of Denmark contains several relevant documents, e.g., Company Bookkeeper Peder Mariager’s account of the history of the Danish West India and Guinea Company 1671-1753.

In addition, the Royal Library has digitized all newspapers from the Danish West Indies held in its collections. They can be searched and read online via Mediastream.


The Maritime Museum of Denmark in Elsinore has several important collections, including objects from the colony and a substantial collection of images in the form of photographs, drawings and paintings as well as some manuscripts, e.g., logbooks and reports. The Maritime Museum of Denmark is housed in the old dry dock at the former Shipyard of Elsinore close by Kronborg, Hamlet’s Castle.

The collections of the National Museum of Denmark include the colonial period in the West Indies, primarily archaeological finds from pre-historic Indian settlements at Salt River on St. Croix, Danish West Indian coins, furniture, paintings, and other objects. There are also some written sources, e.g., letters, maps, drawings, photos, surveys and documentation of buildings and furniture, as well as copies of gravestones.

In this connection, the Plantation Museum at Whim on St. Croix is the most important museum on the islands, where it is possible to gain an impression of what a sugar plantation looked like and how it worked. The local archives of the island and a collection of historical literature can also be found here.


The following is a small selection of recent literature on the history of the Danish West Indies.

Karen Fog Olwig, Cultural adaptation and resistance on St. John, three centuries of Afro-Caribbean life (Gainesville, FL.: University of Florida Press, 1985)

Neville A. T. Hall, Slave society in the Danish West Indies, St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix (Mona: University of the West Indies Press, 1992)

Peter Hoxcer Jensen, From serfdom to fireburn and strike, the history of black labor in the Danish West Indies 1848-1916 (Christiansted, St. Croix: Antilles Press, 1998)

Arnold R. Highfield and George F. Tyson, eds., Negotiating Enslavement: Perspectives on Slavery in the Danish West Indies (St. Croix. Antilles Press, 2009)

Niklas Thode Jensen, For the health of the enslaved, slaves, medicine and power in the Danish West Indies, 1803-1848 (Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 2012)

Erik Gøbel , The Danish Slave Trade and Its Abolition (Leiden: Brill, 2016)

Niklas Thode Jensen & Vibe M. Martens (eds.), Slavery, Servitude and Freedom: New Perspectives on Life in the Danish-Norwegian West Indies, 1672-1848, Special Issue of Scandinavian Journal of History, Volume 41, issue 4-5, 2016.

C.G.A. Oldendorp, C.G.A. Oldendorp’s history of the mission of the Evangelical Brethren on the Caribbean Islands of St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John (Ann Arbor, Mich.: Karoma Publ. 1987)

Arnold R. Highfield, ed., Hans West’s accounts of St. Croix in the West Indies (St. Thomas: Virgin Islands Humanities Council, 2004)


For more material, see the electronic version of Erik Gøbel: A Guide to Sources for the History of the Danish West Indies (U. S. Virgin Islands), 1671-1917 (2002), which provides an overview of both unprinted archival material and printed literature about the history of the islands.