Getting started with Marshall Islands research
Although the Marshall Islands were settled by Micronesians in the 2nd millennium BC, little is known of the early history of the islands. Spanish explorer Alonso de Salazar was the first European to sight the Marshall Islands in 1526, but the islands remained virtually unvisited by Europeans for several more centuries, before the arrival of British Captain John Marshall in 1788. The islands owe their name to him.
Pacific Island Guide Micronesia Marshall Islands
Burial ground at Majuro, Marshall Islands.
The easternmost part of the Micronesia area, the Marshall Islands are an independent nation located between Hawaii and Papua New Guinea, north of Fiji. The islands are composed of 29 coral atolls and 5 small low-lying islands in the central Pacific. The Ratak chain on the east is made up of 15 atolls, and the Ralik chain has 16 atolls. There a over 1,000 island in these two chains. The Marshall Islands have a population of around 50,000. English is the official language. Marshallese and Japanese are also spoken.
500 B.C.First Micronesian navigators arrive in the Marshalls, calling the atolls Aelon Kien Ad (Our Islands).
1494 All of Micronesia is ceded to Spain
1529 Spaniard Alvaro Saavedra discovers the Marshalls.
1788 British Naval Captain William Marshall sails through the area while transporting convicts and names it.
1857 Reverend Hiram Bingham, Jr. of the American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions creates a missionary outpost on Ebon.
1860s Adolph Capelle builds the first trading company in the Marshalls. Other German trading firms come.
1878 Germans establish a calling station and start coconut plantations to produce copra. Captain von Werner of the German Navy grants trade privileges to natives of the Ralik chain.
1885 German government annexes the Marshalls and pays Spain $4.5 milllion.
1886 Germany establishes a protectorate over the Marshalls.
1887 The Jaluit Company, a German entity entrusted with governance of the Marshalls, is formed.
1898 Germany receives ownership of Ujelang and Enewetok atolls as a result of the Spanish American war
1914 The Marshalls are captured from Germany by the Japanese.
1920 The League of Nations grants a mandate to Japan to administer the Marshalls.
1934 Japan builds defenses in the Marshalls.
1943 Allied invasion of the Marshalls begins and occupation results in 1943.
1945 End of World War II grants control of the Marshall to the U.S.A.
1946 U.S.A. begins testing nuclear bombs. Bikini atoll is evacuated for the first tests.
1947 Marshall Islands become part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands established by the United Nations.
1948 U.S. nuclear testing expands to Enewetok atoll.
1951 U.S. Dept. of the Interior assumes responsibility within the U.S. Government from the Dept. of the Navy.
1952 U.S. tests the first hydrogen bomb on Enewetak.
1954 U.S. nuclear hydrogen bomb on Bikini atoll and radiation from the test forces evacuation of all people on Rongelap, Rongerik, Utirik, and Ailinginae. The Rongleapese return and leave again years later.
1965 Congress of Micronesia is formed.
1978 Marshall Islands Constitutional convention adopts the first constitution.
1979 The country becomes self-governing.
1982 It is renamed the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI)
1983 Voters in the RMI approve the Compact of Free Association with the USA. The USA gives $183 million to the Marshalls for damages caused by the nuclear bomb tests.
1991 The Republic of the Marshall Islands becomes a member of the United Nations.
2008 memebership in the LDS Church in the Marshall Islands was 4,623.
Go to the Internet at familysearch.org and click on the Library. From that tab, click on the Family History Library Catalog and then Click on Place,and then type in Marshall Islands and press enter.
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Where to write for vital records starting 12 November 1952 in the Marshall Islands (RMI)
- Registrar’s Office
- PO Box 546
- Majuro, Marshall Islands 96960
The National Archives (see below) also has birth and death certificates in its collection.
- Alele Museum of the Marshall Islands
- Library and National Archives
- PO Box 629
- Majuro, Marshall Islands 96960
- Telepone 011-692-625-3660
- Hours: Monday-Friday 9:00am to 4:00pm
- Archives website
Another possiblity is:
- Embassy of the Marshall Islands
- 2433 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
- Washington, DC 20008
- Telephone 202-234-5414