Creation of the Trust Territory Archives

With the emergence of the new entities, in the early 1980s the United States began to close down operations in the region. Sam McPhetres, a member of the High Commissioner's staff, devised a program to preserve the records of the Trust Territory Government. In collaboration with the University of Hawaii Library, all government files on Saipan were surveyed. The materials were microfilmed and concurrently, Mr. McPhetres and his staff created a computer index to the records. Over 2,000 reels of microfilm were sent the University of Hawaii Library, where the Pacific Collection produced another negative set (a user positive set) and coordinated duplication of all the microfilm for the Micronesian governments through funds provided by the Department of the Interior.

At the end of the project, the University of Hawaii Library sent complete sets of all microfilm to archives in Saipan, Palau, Pohnpei, and Majuro, as well as to the U.S. National Archives in Washington D.C. The Trust Territory Government donated to the University of Hawaii Library the photograph collection; a small collection of films, videotapes and audiocassettes; and a large map collection. This project, huge in scope, had achieved a unique goal by putting on microfilm nearly all Trust Territory Government files. The photograph, audiovisual, and map collections added a special dimension to the holdings at the University of Hawaii Library. In 1988, the Trust Territory of the Pacific Index database was made accessible online via the Library's first automated system. (Today, the TTPI Voyager Database can be freely searched worldwide via the Internet.)

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.