Aloha kākou! I’m Dawn Sueoka, and I’m delighted to join the UH Mānoa Library’s Archives & Manuscripts Department as the new Congressional Papers Archivist. A little bit about me: my ancestors are originally from Japan; they settled on Kaua‘i—in Kōloa and Kapa‘a—four generations ago. I grew up in Central O‘ahu and on Kaua‘i. (And, in response to one of Hawai‘i’s most ubiquitous and revealing getting-to-know-you questions: Moanalua High School.)
My job as Congressional Papers Archivist is to collect, preserve, promote, and facilitate access to the Hawai‘i Congressional Papers Collection, which comprises the papers of members of Hawai‘i’s Congressional delegation from 1959 to the present. It includes the papers of Senators Hiram Fong, Daniel Inouye, Spark Matsunaga, and Daniel Akaka; as well as the papers of Representatives Thomas Gill, Pat Saiki, Neil Abercrombie, and Ed Case. All together, these collections measure over 4,000 linear feet–that’s almost ¾ mile of Hawai‘i’s 20th and 21st-century political history!
I recognize that this may seem like a strange time for an introduction. The COVID-19 crisis finds me very fortunate to be able to work from home. Though I am not physically in the collection, however, I have been seeing so many connections between the Congressional papers and the (sometimes heated) conversations many of us have been having over the past few weeks: conversations about the economy, about tourism, about healthcare, about immigration, about race, and about the different ways that people respond to (and have historically responded to) anti-Asian racism. To my mind, these echoes and connections speak to the impact and enduring significance of our Congressional delegation’s work.
In addition to my fears and anxieties about COVID-19, there are many things that I am feeling as I step into my role as steward of these collections: I feel great respect for the individuals—and their families and staff—who have dedicated their lives to serving the people of Hawai‘i. I also feel great excitement about the researchers who have and will continue to spend time with these collections, and the insights that will come from their exploration and analysis.
I look forward to promoting these collections, building relationships with donors and with researchers and departments who might work with these collections, and helping folks to engage with the various histories that these collections document. Though all of us exist in different relation to this place, I feel hopeful and proud knowing that we are all–along with our Congressional delegations past and present–deeply committed to its future.