The Rotuma Archive
This archive is a repository for basic documents, published and unpublished, concerning the island of Rotuma and its people. Our intent is to make information that may be difficult to obtain widely available to Rotumans and to scholars with a serious interest in Rotuman society, culture, language, history and environment.
Note: These documents should not be taken as accurate copies of the originals. They were digitalized by scanning, a process subject to errors. Scholars intending to use these materials for publication are urged to check originals prior to final submission.
The following documents are now available:
An account by René Lesson, naturalist aboard the French corvette, Coquille, which visited Rotuma in 1824. Lesson's account is entitled, "Observations on Rotuma and its inhabitants."
Peter Dillon arrived at Rotuma in 1827 and wrote an account, Narrative...of a Voyage in the South Seas...
George Bennett, a physician aboard the Sophia, visited Rotuma in 1830. His observations on "The Island of Rótuma" were published in 1831 in the United Services Journal.
Robert Jarman visited Rotuma aboard the whaling ship 'Japan' and wrote an account of his visit in Journal of a Voyage to the South Seas... (1832).
Edward Lucatt's report of a visit to Rotuma in 1841, from his book, Rovings in the Pacific, from 1837 to 1849, published in 1851.
Litton Forbes' account of his visit to Rotuma in 1872, from his book, Two Years in Fiji, published in 1875.
J. W. Boddam-Whetham's account of a short visit to Rotuma in his book, Pearls of the Pacific, published in 1876.
W.L. Allardyce, who was Acting Resident Commissioner on Rotuma for a short period during 1881, the year of Cession, provides a general account of Rotuman society entitled "Rotooma and the Rotoomans," published in 1885-6.
Rev. William Allen was a Methodist missionary on Rotuma from 1881-1886. This account, simply entitled "Rotuma," was a paper read at a meeting of the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science at Brisbane, Australia in January 1895.
J. Stanley Gardiner's "The Natives of Rotuma," which appeared in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute in 1898. Gardiner was a naturalist who visited Rotuma in 1896. His account is the most extensive and valuable record of nineteenth century Rotuma.
Gordon MacGregor's "Field Notes on Rotuma," are housed at Bishop Museum in Honolulu. MacGregor did ethnographic field work on Rotuma in 1932, but did not publish any extensive accounts although he organized his notes systematically. The notes are presented here, edited and with marginal notations by Hans Schmidt and Alan Howard.
W.E. Russell's "Rotuma: Its History, Traditions and Customs," was published in the Journal of the Polynesian Society in December, 1942. Russell was Acting Resident Commissioner on Rotuma during 1926-27. Most of the information in this account is from Frederick Gibson.
Collected Papers of Alan Howard and Jan Rensel
The full texts of thirty-three papers published in professional journals and as chapters in books by Alan Howard and Jan Rensel are available here. The papers were published between 1961 and 1998 and cover various aspects of Rotuman culture and history over a forty-year period.
A comprehensive Bibliography of Rotuma compiled by Antoine N'Yeurt, Will McClatchey and Hans Schmidt is online.