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Record the Old Mele

Image: Masthead of Ka Hae Hawaii published on March 21, 1860.

Newspapers were used to record traditions that were fading from memory. As people left the countryside for the excitement of town, their connections to the older generations and the old traditions lessened.

The following call by S. C. Armstrong for people to send in mele is perhaps an important reason why there are the great number of compositions remaining in the newspapers today. Soon after his announcement begins running, people like S. M. Kamakau and J. H. Kanepuu submit traditional mele.

Image: Limaikaika, S. C. “No na Mele!” Ka Hae Hawaii, March 21, 1860, p. 203.

Pertaining to Mele!

O PEOPLE WHO KNOW FINE MELE AND Ancient Mele, I want you to send those Mele to me, and some will be printed in the Hae; and some will be preserved; because they are valuable. The Philomathian Society1 at Punahou wants the ancient Mele to place in their archives to be looked at in the future.

Editor of the Hae.

(Hae Hawaii, 3/21/1860, p. 203)

1The Philomathian Society of Oʻahu College began on September 20, 1855. Does anyone know more about this organization and if their records still exist somewhere?

Image: Studio portrait of General Samuel Chapman Armstrong (1839-1893); Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo by Broadbent and Phillips, Bishop Museum Archives. SP 215957

This post is part of He Aupuni Palapala: Preserving and Digitizing the Hawaiian Language Newspapers, a partnership between Bishop Museum and Awaiaulu with assistance from Kamehameha Schools. Mahalo nui loa to Hawaii Tourism Authority for their support. Learn more about this project here.

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