1930 UH Graduate won first Documentary Film Oscar in 1941

Gladys Li as shown in Ka Palapala

Gladys Li as shown in Ka Palapala

You may have seen the PBS documentary Finding Kukan, about the story of Li Ling-Ai, a female film producer from Hawai‘i who was uncredited for her work on an Oscar-winning documentary about World War II in China called Kukan.  Winning an Honorary Academy Award in 1941—the first instance of an Oscar being bestowed to a documentary before becoming an official category the next year—Kukan introduced audiences to the ethnicities within China and provided the only ground-level footage of the bombing of Chongqing by the Japanese Air Force in World War II.  Finding Kukan producer and director Robin Lung brought to light Ling-Ai’s story, which had gone untold for decades. Both mysteries are unraveled over a seven-year journey in Finding Kukan.

Punahou graduate Li Ling-Ai went by Gladys Ling Oi Li while at UH, where she graduated in Language, Literature, Art.  While a member of a variety of literary and honor societies, it’s interesting to note she did not belong to the Chinese Students’ Alliance.  Her activities at the time of her 1930 graduation included:

  • A. W. – Executive Committee
  • Berndt Stage
  • Cosmopolitan Club
  • Dramatic Nights.
  • Hawaii Quill – President & VP
  • Hawaii Quill Magazine – Staff
  • Hui Po‘okela
  • Ka Leo – Staff
  • Ka Palapala – Staff
  • University Chorus
  • University Press Club

Upon graduation, she made the “Who’s Who.”

Photos of Li and others arrayed as winners of a personality contest judged by Lon Chaney, along with Chaney's letter explaining his judging.

Li’s relationship with Hollywood started in her junior year, as evidenced by the letter from horror star Lon Chaney.


UH and ASUH ownership of the Honolulu Stadium

At one time the University of Hawaiʻi (UH) and the Associated Students of the University of Hawaiʻi (ASUH) were the major shareholders of the Honolulu Stadium located on King and Isenberg Streets.  From 1926 to 1976 the “Termite Palace[1]” hosted thousands of high school and UH football games, was the home of the Triple-A Pacific Coast Leagues’ Hawaii Islanders, and hosted notables such as Elvis, Babe Ruth, Irving Berlin, and Billy Graham, at times exceeding its 26, 000 seat capacity.

Early 20th Century UH cheerleaders lined up on the field of the Honolulu Stadium.

Continue reading

Found in the Archives: 1903 and 1911 Agricultural Federal Bulletins Published in Hawaiian

Established in Hawaiʻi in 1901, one of the services of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Experiment Stations was to assist local farmers on widely cultivated local products. This work was recognized on the national level, “[a]s institutions that could not survive without public support, communication with the main supporting group of the general public, the farmers, was essential (Knoblauch, 1962).” The second Bulletin of the Hawaii Agricultural Experiment Station (HAES), The Root Rot of Taro—written by agriculturist Thomas Sedgwick advocating traditional methods of crop rotation and plant care in 1902—was followed the next year with a Hawaiian language synopsis as Bulletin 4. Continue reading

Announcing the Roger A. Long Papers

This post was written by University Archives & Manuscripts student assistant Sharnelle Renti Cruz.

Headshot of Roger Long

One of the many portrait photos Roger Long used for his actor’s portfolio.

The Roger A. Long Papers contain the research and academic work of Roger Long, the former Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities and Emeritus professor of Asian Theatre at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.  His lifelong passion of Indonesian Wayang Kulit (Javanese Shadow puppetry) is truly preserved and represented in this collection of biographical materials, which include his correspondence, a sampling of materials relating to theatrical productions, audio recordings, scrapbooks about Malaysian theatre, photographs of Southeast Asian theatrical performances, an actor’s portfolio of professional photographs, and both published and unpublished writings. Continue reading

Announcing the James R. Brandon Papers

This post is by Univ. Archives & Manuscripts student assistant Steven Fluckiger, who processed the Brandon Papers.

A new addition to the University Archives, the James R. Brandon Papers contain the research and academic work of Dr. James R. Brandon, former professor of theatre and drama at University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. He is most recognized for his groundbreaking research on kabuki theatre and censorship from the Japanese government and the U.S. military during the twentieth century. Continue reading

Welcome Ashley / Reading Room Reopening!

The University Archives & Manuscripts Department gladly welcomes our newest staff member, Ashley Kajioka!  Ashley has been hired as our Reference Archivist, and thanks to her presence we are able to expand the hours that we are open.

Starting Tuesday, December 6th, our new hours are Tuesday through Friday, 9:30am-3:30pm (with the exception of the last week of the year).   The Moir Reading Room is located on the 5th floor of the Hamilton Library Addition.  (Hamilton Library floor maps here.)

In addition to taking on a good portion of the department’s reference responsibilities, Ashley will also arrange and describe archival materials, starting with the papers of former Bishop Museum Curator and UH Zoology Professor William A. Bryan. Ashley has previously worked with the University Archives & Manuscripts Department as a student assistant, and has also held positions at Sinclair Library and at KCC’s Lama Library.