Skip to Main Content

Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands Archives: Introduction

How to access documents, photographs and other material from the records of the former Trust Territory Government (Micronesia).

About the Trust Territories of the Pacific Islands Archives

Photo of man on boat

There are over twenty-one hundred islands that make up the cultural region known as Micronesia (map).  (Culturally, Micronesia includes Kiribati and Nauru, but the separate political history of these countries excludes them from the archives discussed here.)

The islands of Micronesia were colonized in succession by Spain, Germany, and Japan.  After the Second World War, these islands became a United States administered United Nations strategic trusteeship. This new arrangement was named the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI). Initially under Navy control, the islands were transferred to the U.S. Dept. of the Interior in 1951. Administrative headquarters, originally in Honolulu, moved to Guam, and finally to Saipan. For administrative purpose, the TTPI divided the islands of Micronesia into six districts based on earlier colonial precedent: the Marshalls, Ponape, Truk, Marianas, Yap, and Palau, with the later addition of Kosrae.

Beginning in the 1970s the districts began voting to end the trustee relationship with the United States. In 1986 the US notified the UN that its obligations were fulfilled. The UN officially dissolved the Trust Territory in 1990. Palau, the last of the Trust Territory districts, voted to end its trustee status in 1994.

A program to preserve the records of the Trust Territory Government was devised by Sam McPhetres, a member of the High Commissioner's staff.  In collaboration with the University of Hawaiʻi Library, all government files held in Saipan were surveyed. The materials were microfilmed and concurrently, Mr. McPhetres and his staff created a computer index to the records (currently available at the TTPI Voyager Database). At the end of the project the University of Hawaiʻi Library sent complete sets of all microfilm to archives in the former Trust Territories, as well as to the U.S. National Archives in Washington D.C.  In addition, the Trust Territory Government donated its photograph collection, a small collection of films, videotapes and audiocassettes, and a large map collection to the University of Hawaiʻi Library.

The history of the American period in Micronesia, recorded in the Trust Territory Archives, is of vital interest to those studying American diplomatic history, political development, applied anthropology, education in developing areas, Third World health problems, and a host of other topics. It is a particular significance for the United States, as the history of Micronesia involves a major portion of U.S. involvement in the Pacific since World War II. The triumphs and the tragedies of American Policy in Micronesia are contained in the Trust Territory Archives. Never before has a colonial power passed on to newly independent nations and to posterity such a compact, accessible record of activities, policies, and programs. The Photograph Collection adds an invaluable record of the people, places, and events of the American period, thus fleshing out the paper files with the tangible evidence that gives personality and affords further study opportunities for the researcher.

Today the former Trust Territory is comprised of four separate, self-governing districts:

  •  The Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas
  •  The Federated States of Micronesia, (comprised of Kosrae, Pohnpei, Chuuk, and Yap)
  •  The Republic of the Marshall Islands
  •  The Republic of Palau

The Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas is a United States commonwealth and its residents are U.S. citizens. The other three countries have approved compacts of free association with the United States, which provide for full self-government except for defense, which the countries delegate to the U.S.


Click on information button for FAQ answers.

How to access the TTPI Archive

At UH Mānoa

The TTPIA microfilm is accessible on the 1st floor of Hamilton library. After you enter the library, take a left towards the business office, then right past the Microform viewing room and into the microforms room.

UHM TTPIA map   

The call number for the set of microfilms is V10001.

Why are some pages unreadable and/or missing?


The original microfilms were created on-site in Saipan, and were made under less-than-ideal conditions. In some cases, images were over- or under-exposed, and therefore are extremely difficult to read. In these cases, there are no better copies available.

Microfilm-to-digital (PDF)

The quality of the PDF relies on the quality of the microfilm. If a page was over-exposed on the microfilm, it will be white on the PDF.

Some of the PDFs were created via page-by-page scan, adjusting the lighting for each page individually. These will be the best digital version possible. We have a high level of confidence that what is on the PDF matches what is on the microfilm.

Some of the PDFs were created via an automated scan of a whole reel. No adjustments are made if the quality of the pages on the microfilm changed. The results are not optimal. We have a much lower confidence that what is on the PDF matches what is on the microfilm because if the pages are too dark the automated scanning software may have skipped pages entirely.

In all cases we will note how the PDFs were created. 


  • If the contents of the file was a report or a published item, check the UH library catalog to see if there is a print copy available.
  • If it was an automated scan, go back to the original microfilm and scan again, adjusting page-by-page.

Quick links

Subject Guide

Profile Photo
Eleanor Kleiber
Pacific Collection, Hamilton Library

Fifth Floor, Office 509
Hamilton Library
2550 McCarthy Mall
Honolulu. HI 96822
Subjects: Pacific