New Year, New Projects

With classes back in session, the workroom in the University Archives and Manuscripts Department is once again bustling with activity.  We have two students and three volunteers continuing work on ongoing projects, nine volunteers and two students who’ve started new projects in the past month, and two student positions we are in the processing of filling.

The students and volunteers are busy processing new accessions and additions to existing collections, digitizing documents for wider access, helping curate and prepare exhibits, and more.  Among the materials they are working with are the:

  • Senator Daniel K. Inouye papers
  • Papers of former UH theatre professor James R. Brandon
  • WWII Counter Intelligence Corps veteran William T. Hiraoka’s papers
  • Records from the Catholic Action/Peace Education Center
  • Governor Neil Abercrombie papers
  • Records from former the Peace Corps Training Center in Hilo
  • Documents from the National Archives collected by the 442nd Veterans Club
  • University Archives & Manuscripts Department’s own archival records
  • University Photographer Robert Chinn photographs

All in all, it looks like the department is off to a productive start for the 2017/2018 academic year.  We’ll keep you posted on the projects as they progress!


Hello and Welcome!

Hello all, I’m Leilani Dawson, the new Manuscripts Collections Archivist here at Hamilton Library’s Archives and Manuscripts Department.  I have oversight of the collections that don’t fall under the purviews of my colleagues Asako, the Archivist for University records, or Rachael, the Congressional Papers Archivist.   For the most part, this means that I am working with the materials in the Japanese American Veterans Collection, the Hawai’i War Records Depository, and collections related to the struggle for marriage equality in the state.

I am delighted to be here working with these collections; in many ways this is a dream come true for me!  My maternal grandmother, Viola Furumoto, was for many years a librarian in the Sci-Tech Department here.  (That link goes to a history of the department; my grandmother is featured in the section on the 1970s-1980s, pages 39-48).   The entire library ohana has been incredibly welcoming, and it’s been a particular treat to get to know colleagues who worked with my grandmother before she retired.

Furthermore, my maternal grandfather, Howard Furumoto, served in the Military Intelligence Service [M.I.S.] during the Second World War.  The M.I.S., along with the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, Hawai’i Territorial Guard, Varsity Victory Volunteers, and 1399th Engineers, was one of the units of Nisei soldiers whose stories and documents form the core of our Japanese American Veterans Collection [JAVC].  Part of my preparations for assuming stewardship of these materials has been to get to know the resources offered by related organizations; it was through these efforts that I discovered a profile of my grandfather and his military service on the Discover Nikkei website, and an oral history of him in the  Densho Archives.  I’ve also been exploring UH-produced materials related to JAVC, such as our own oral history archives project, the Hawai’i Nisei Story site.  As I’ve started delving into our collections, resources such as these have been invaluable sources of both general background knowledge and specific information on the individual veterans represented in our collections.

Finally, I want to close this post with a few images from a new JAVC collection that just came to the Library last month.  At only a single folder, the Henry Adams Papers is one of the smallest sub-collections in JAVC.   Nevertheless it is particularly relevant now as Memorial Day approaches since Adams–in his role as Entertainment Director of the District Special Services Office at the Army base in Hilo–seems to have had some responsibility for organizing and attending memorial services for soldiers from the area who had been killed in action overseas.   The photograph below depicts Adams at such a service, and the letter is a thank-you note addressed to Adams from the parents of one of these servicemen, Yoshitaka Kataoka.

Henry “Hank” Adams at a memorial service, circa 1943-1945

Henry “Hank” Adams at a memorial service, circa 1943-1945


Page 1 of June 17, 1944 letter from Mr. & Mrs. Kataoka to Adams

Page 1 of letter from Mr. & Mrs. Kataoka to Adams

Page 2 of letter from Mr. & Mrs. Kataoka to Adams

Page 2 of letter from Mr. & Mrs. Kataoka to Adams

Moir Reading Room Interim Hours

Due to staffing shortages during the holidays the Moir Reading Room will be open by appointment only December 24 and December 28-31. Normal reference hours (10 AM-4 PM) will be held December 22 and 23. To make an appointment send an email to or call (808) 956-6047.

Happy Holidays from the University Archives & Manuscripts Staff!

Aloha Dainan!

Dainan's Speech

Dainan had just a few words to say Friday… [Photograph Courtesy of Elva Young]

On Friday we said farewell to Dainan Skeem, our Archivist for Manuscripts, who is going to be starting a new position as the 21st Century Mormon and Western Manuscripts Curator at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. We wish him all the best in the next phase of his career and are thankful for his four dedicated years in the University Archives and Manuscripts Department.

We will miss you Dainan-see you at SAA!

New Romanzo Adams Social Research Laboratory Database

With contribution from the Hawai’i Council for the Humanities and the staff and researchers of the Archives and Manuscripts Department there is a new online database dedicated to the RASRL (Romanzo Adams Social Research Laboratory) Collection. This is an exciting opportunity for users to search by topic through the many papers in the collection. New ones will constantly be added to the database, providing access to a treasure trove of student research papers covering over fifty years (1920s – 1970s) of personal observations of family, community and workplace relations throughout Hawaii.

The database delivers a wide range of  keywords one can utilize to search the topics discussed in the papers, all related to intimate stories that retell the diverse history of communities found in the Hawaiian islands. The professors of the Sociology Department at the University of Hawaii asked students to look at the world around them and to examine the changes taking place through the lens of sociology. The students went out into the field as interviewers and observers, and their fresh and firsthand perspectives provide details about life – social, on-the-ground history. Race relations, urbanization, autobiographies and generational change are topics that were often discussed in the papers.

Here are just a few examples of subject terms used:

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Through….informal get-togethers people began to realize that they agreed on a lot of things and the other person was a very nice neighbor. Common needs, common sufferings, and similar worries tended to knit these people closer together and made a primary group out of the members of the neighborhood. 
(Hatsune Koto “The Neighborhood”)

Tips to dig into the RASRL database:

  • Browse the subject terms to get a better idea of what topics are being discussed in the papers.
  • Papers have not been scanned but we welcome you to see them in the Hamilton Library Moir Reading Room (Tues – Friday 10AM – 4PM) or by appointment.
  • To see a paper send an email with the call no., title or author of item to

Archives staff member publishes article on the Hawaii War Records Depository


Jack Kormos of the Archives & Manuscripts Department recently published an article in the Society of American Archivists newsletter about one of the Archives’ most prized collections – the Hawaii War Records Depository. You can view the article here:

The Hawaii War Records Depository collection was created after World War II began in order to document the special role that Hawaii was playing in that war. University administration saw the need to preserve records that told the story of wartime life in the Islands, in part so that University faculty could use the materials to research and write publications about the part that Hawaii played in the war.

As a result, archives staff were hired to begin soliciting materials from government agencies, businesses, and the general public. Collecting went on for several years, and eventually the collection grew to over 250 linear feet of materials, from diaries, to student posters, to state agency reports, to photographs of peoples’ experiences during the war. The project eventually ran out of funding and its staff subsequently disbanded, but the resulting collection remains one of the most heavily-used resources in the Archives to this day.


Work begins on the Senator Daniel K. Inouye papers

Late last year, we received 1,237 records boxes of the late Sen. Daniel K. Inouye’s congressional papers, the largest of our 11 congressional collections. These represent his work in the U.S. House for over 3 years upon statehood and the almost 50 years he was in the U.S. Senate.

These papers will form the basis for UH’s wider program related to Sen. Inouye that will also include scholar exchanges, a speaker series, oral histories, civic education and exhibits. 

Sen. Inouye’s family worked with the Hawaii Community Foundation to raise funds to support the processing of the papers. The most immediate result of this effort was the hiring of two archives technicians who are processing the papers under the supervision of our archivist for congressional papers. We expect to add UH Manoa student workers and library school graduate assistants to the work force; they will help in digitizing significant portions of the papers.


Jack Kormos


Charise Michelsen

‘Ulu‘ulu: The Henry Kuʻualoha Giugni Moving Image Archive of Hawaiʻi on the campus of UH-West Oahu is the repository for all moving images and audio material in the Sen. Inouye Papers. The items will be preserved and digitized by ‘Ulu‘ulu’s expert staff.