PICTURES OF CHANGE IN PARADISE At the Turn of the 20th Century in American Samoa has been selected for hard cover binding by the Library of Congress (LOC), in Washington, D.C.  for the public to read and research in the Jefferson and Adams Reading Rooms! 

     The classic artistic charm of Samoa's past can be seen interwoven throughout this transformation in paradise at the turn of the 20th century in PICTURES OF CHANGE IN PARADISE At the Turn of the 20th Century in American Samoa. The Fitafita (on the cover) is a precursor to American Samoa's patriotism as shown by the many Samoans who have served in the United States Armed forces.  In an indigenous Samoan art class at American Samoa Community College taught by Reggie Meredith, Karen Wheat learned about the fine art of siapo (tapa design), Samoan mat making, and Samoan pottery. There is a chapter on siapo design and art included in Karen's book. The Editor, John Enright, was also the American Samoan Historical Preservation Officer(retired) and is an independent established editor and author of both fiction and poetry. Alison Nordstrom PhD, an Independent Scholar of Photographs of all kinds, also contributed to PICTURES OF CHANGE IN PARADISE At the Turn of the 20th Century in American Samoa and both Ms. Nordstom and Mr. Enright wrote contributions within this book. Karen Wheat has been working and researching this finally published project off and on for the past seventeen years, and it has brought her the joy of getting to know the Samoan people, the Samoan culture and the history of the United States Territory of American Samoa.

     ​It is Karen Wheat's hope that the photographs in this book will facilitate the preservation of the fine art of siapo, the weaving of fine mats, siva dancing and music, traditional oratory skills, the kava ceremony, and the patriotism of all those who serve in the United States military. Four of the buildings in the Dwyer Collection are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Two of the historical buildings seen in the collection have been preserved. 

​       A lot of intense research went into this book over the years and she is graciously grateful for this learning and cultural experience. Karen is also thankful for all of the people who helped her along the way and this opportunity to share her family collection of 55 photographs via her newly updated book and Kindle edition.

About the Author​​

        "A recovered family photo album showcases the early days of American Samoa under a naval administration from 1907 to 1913.

        Wheat's debut collection is a passionate combination of the personal and historical, culminating in her investigations into a family album of 52 black-and-white photographs and tales of an "Uncle Dwyer" who spent time in the American Samoa islands. 

        Uncle Dwyer was in fact Joseph L. Dwyer, secretary to the commandant in American Samoa (among other titles) in the early 1900s. He worked closely and respectfully with the Samoan people in the early days of the U.S. territory. Along with Wheat's own thorough yet not overwhelming research, these restored and cleaned images-collected but not taken by Dwyer-present a rare look at a civilization before tremendous change. Samoan chiefs appeared in an amalgamation of native and colonial fashions, their beautiful daughters adorned with handmade jewelry of soapberry and pandanus fruit. Traditional toa warriors still received full-body tattoos to signify rank, only to be contrasted with the Western dress assigned to locals in the Navy-established Fitafita Guard. Despite their age, the black-and-white photos and accompanying captions beautifully depict the Samoan people, figures of interest, dress, activities, and their breathtaking tropical homes. The book provides a concise primer of the islands' history before the territory's creation, detailing the natives' origins, their roles as warriors and sailors, the eventual arrival of Western missionaries, and the warring for the area between the German, British, and American forces. The author comments little on the effects of colonialism, offering only the history, to accentuate but not co-opt the photos with editorializing. Some will find the collection somewhat conservative in the history it chooses to share, yet ultimately that is part of its charm, making this enticing snapshot an excellent starting point for those readers it grabs.

       A simple, uniquely intimate gateway resource into the early history of American Samoa as well as the influences of colonialism." Kirkus Reviews

About the Book:​​​​

​​​​​​​​​​Collection of 55 Rare Historical Photos of American Samoa 

Kirkus Reviews


                    ISBN - 13: 978-0-9979995-0-1

ISBN - 10: 0-9979995-0-0

LCCN#: 2016915985

LC Classification DU819.T8 W44 2016

​Dewey Classification#: 996.1/3




​​At the Turn of the 20th Century in American Samoa©

by Karen Wheat

​Illus. 12. Native Women (c)