Hamilton Library Excursions

Cover Image: Hamilton Library, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, April 13, 2021.

Image: Team member Kapalaiʻula de Silva, from Kamehameha Schools Hoʻokahua Cultural Vibrancy Group, looks on in admiration at Hamilton Library’s copy of the famed Ka Nupepa Kuokoa color flag edition published on January 1, 1862.

Aloha Nūhou Monday!

Dear Reader, we spent the last couple of months in Hamilton Library at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. We were welcomed by Kapena Shim, Hawaiian Collection Librarian, to catalog the condition of each page of their Hawaiian language newspapers. Although he is on sabbatical, he generously offered to give us access, and we were privileged to see some amazing things!

Hamilton Library’s holdings start at the very first issue of the very first Hawaiian language newspaper, Ka Lama Hawaii, printed at Lahainaluna Seminary on Maui beginning in 1834. The collection continues on until it reaches issues of the last newspaper, Ka Hoku o Hawaii, which was printed in Hilo and had to stop its presses in 1948 due to insufficient funds. Going through the nearly 15,000 pages was not only tedious and hard on the eyes, it felt like it took years off of our lives—turning the oftentimes fragile pages, one by one, most over a hundred years old. The only thing that kept us going, and continues to keep us going, is knowing that it is a step to freely accessible online digital images of the best available pages. And clearer newspaper images will give opportunity for a clearer understanding of history!

 An unexpected part of our time was spent going through newsletters. Kapena brought out ones like Ka Elele Oiaio, published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and Ka Hoaloha, published by the Hawaiian Evangelical Association. There were even more modern ones like Ka Nūhou, composed by earlier generations of the Hui Aloha ʻĀina Tuahine from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. These may not be considered newspapers, but we realized that we need to broaden our scope to include these publications because they indeed represent Hawaiian language newswriting.  

Finally, we would like to send our aloha to Kapena Shim and Hamilton Library and thank them for accommodating us during these very unusual times.

—Post by Bishop Museum Library & Archives Staff

Image: The front page of the color flag edition of Ka Nupepa Kuokoa (January 1, 1862) as seen online at papakilodatabase.com.

Image: The front page of the February 17, 1972 issue of Ka Nūhou, a newsletter of the Hui Aloha ʻĀina Tuahine from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

Image: Our final day at Hamilton Library! Kapena Shim, Hawaiian Collection Librarian stands with He Aupuni Palapala team member Kapalaiʻula de Silva, from Kamehameha Schools Hoʻokahua Cultural Vibrancy Group. These book carts hold just a portion of Hamilton Library’s collection of Hawaiian language newspapers. They are both smiling under their masks!

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