University Archives & Manuscript Collections Dept. Newsletter, Spring 2021

In this issue:

  • Note from the Department Chair
  • Sherman Seki’s 30 year service award
  • Hawai‘i Congressional Papers Collections Update
  • University Archives Update
  • Today I Learned – A reflection from the Manuscript Collections

Note from the Department Chair

Looking back over the past year, the work of my fellow department members over the past year leaves me with a feeling of great gratitude.  It is thanks to all of the efforts of Dawn, Helen, and Sherman that we’ve been able to keep things going amidst all the upheavals we’ve experienced.  As department chair, I’m proud to share a few highlights of their dedication and resilience:

  • Dawn Sueoka’s first day on the job as Congressional Papers Archivist was February 27th, which gave her a total of 18 work days before the UH campus, including Hamilton Library, closed down and transitioned to remote operations.  Dawn quickly adapted ‘learning on the job’ to ‘learning from home’ and is now our resident expert on the Congressional collections.
  • Helen Wong Smith’s response to our changed circumstances proved similarly proactive and determined.  She has maintained her impressive pace of outreach and acquisitions, most recently expanding the University Archives’ collection of materials from the UH radio station, KTUH
  • Sherman Seki, meanwhile, is one of those who never stopped going in to work.  As the department’s assistant, he has remained on-site to receive the mail, check on the physical environment of stack spaces, keep our computers updated with the latest security patches, and perform all the other behind-the-scenes tasks that allow the department to function; without him we wouldn’t be a department.

We’ve all been keeping busy since the Moir Reading Room closed in March.  With the exception of tasks requiring gathering in-person, much of the usual work has continued—some has even ramped up—and we’ve also started tackling some of those ‘rainy day’ projects that tend to get lost in the press of normal operations. 

  • Reference services have been the most affected by the change; while we’ve mostly switched to remote reference (via email, scans, and so on), we know that there’s sometimes no substitute for in-person research.
  • We have continued to populate, correct, and standardize records in our archival collections database, ArchivesSpace.  This includes both transforming our old paper / pdf / excel finding aids and inventories into database entries and creating new data for recently-acquired collections (as well as collections that had never been described).
  • Digitization work has also continued: Dawn has been collaborating with the Library’s D-Lab to digitize selected series from the Senator Daniel Inouye papers, and I have benefitted from the time and energy of several volunteers who have been digitizing selected portions of the 442nd Veterans Club collection.

I am also delighted to announce additions to the department: as the result of a recent reorganization, Malia Van Heukelem, the Library’s Art Archivist, has joined the University Archives & Manuscript Collections, as has her assistant archivist, Ellen Chapman.  Among the materials in Malia’s purview are the Jean Charlot and Vladimir Ossipoff collections; more information on them and the other Hawaiʻi Art and Architecture collections can be found on the Charlot Collection website.

Looking forward, we all hope to resume our regular schedule sometime in the coming year.  The past ten months have proven the truth of adages about ‘best laid plans,’ but nevertheless here are my current expectations for reopening and beyond:

  • In the short term, the status of the UHM campus for Spring 2021 will be more of the same.  Within the Archives we are planning to gradually ramp up our on-site hours so that we may respond more nimbly to requests.
  • We hope to resume in-person reference sometime next year, although details on when are still unclear.  It is almost certain, however, that we will reopen first to UH-affiliated patrons, that we will initially be open by appointment only, and that we will have limits on the number of researchers who may be in the reading room simultaneously.
  • Taking a broader view, the Library as a whole has been observing the UH System and Mānoa Campus’s strategic planning processes with interest.  We expect that these plans will throw light on the University’s hopes and aspirations, and the Library—and our department—will seek to align our own mission and vision with that of our parent institution.

Sherman Sekiʻs 30 year service award bestowed on 12/2/2020

Photo of University Archives & Manuscript Collections Department Library Assistant Sherman Seki posing with his 30 year service award, 2020

Hawai‘i Congressional Papers Collections Update

Daniel K. Inouye Papers digitization: Work continues on our project to broaden access to Senator Inouye’s papers through digitization. In 2020, the library’s digitization lab added another 162 folders and 16,840 pages to the digital collection, bringing our total count to 894 folders and 64,668 pages representing some of the most requested portions of the Inouye collection. Digitized files document the Senator’s campaigns, and his work on issues affecting Native Hawaiians and on obtaining redress for Japanese Latin Americans interned during WWII, among other topics. In 2020, the digitized files were viewed  21,617 times and downloaded 11,386 times by users from Oakland to Jacksonville to Wilmington to Holualoa.

Outreach:  In order to showcase the wealth of material in all of our Hawaiʻi Congressional Papers collections, we’ve started posting quarterly entries on the department’s blog. Among the materials shared so far: Flyers promoting 1979 Asian Pacific American Heritage Week events (like a disco and fun run), and shots of Saiki, Matsunaga, Inouye, and Fong campaign volunteers sign waving, working the buffet line, and preparing scrambled eggs. In order to support our K12 community, we’ve created what will become an annually updated resource to connect students and teachers participating in Hawaiʻi History Day with primary sources from HCPC collections. This year’s installment, relating to the 2021 theme “Communication in History,” highlights speeches from our collections. Finally, we’ve launched a digital image collection featuring some of the most significant and compelling images from our Congressional collections.

Picture of the HI Congressional delegation and others, 1965

Glen Hirabayashi, Senator Hiram Fong, Senator Daniel Inouye, Representative Patsy Mink, Mrs. Julia Stuart, president of the League of Women Voters, Patricia Rezents, Representative Spark Matsunaga, February 2, 1965. Senator Hiram L. Fong Papers, Hawai’i Congressional Papers Collection, University Archives & Manuscripts Department, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Library. From the HCPC Digital Image Collection.

Processing and acquisitions: We are continuing our work to prepare the Representative Neil Abercrombie Papers for researchers. We are also pleased to accept a small collection of electronic records donated by former Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.

Publications: Photographs from HCPC collections were featured in 2020’s Asian Americans, a 5-hour film series showcasing the contributions of and challenges faced by Asian Americans. Photographs were also featured in a national APA Legacy Campaign PSA. In the last few years, scholars Jane H. Hong and Simeon Man, who both conducted research in the Congressional collections, respectively published Opening the Gates to Asia: A Transpacific History of How America Repealed Asian Exclusion (University of North Carolina Press, 2019) and Soldiering through empire: race and the making of the decolonizing Pacific (University of California Press, 2018).

Events of the last year have underscored the enduring significance of the work of Hawaiʻi’s Congressional leaders, and the potential for their papers to contextualize and offer insight on our current challenges. I look forward to promoting, preserving, and providing access to our Congressional collections during what I hope will be a peaceful and safe 2021.

University Archives Update

Efforts continued to increase awareness of the role of the University Archives as the repository for official and unofficial records documenting the history of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, and of state and local history pertaining to the university, despite COVID restrictions. Guidance on assessing records of enduring value—whether they be maintained by the unit or transferred to the University Archives—were provided to the Office of the Provost, Office of the Board of Regents, School of Architecture, Office of Strategic Development and Partnership and KTUH, the campus radio station.

Outreach efforts

Two blog entries highlighting UA collections were posted for 2020.

The first of the newly produced branding posters featuring Chief Justice William Richardson were distributed electronically to repositories across the state providing a list of some of our collections.

University Archives & Manuscript Collections Department poster featuring an image of future HI State Chief Justice William Richardson during his student days, 1940 University Archives & Manuscript Collections Department poster featuring an image of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, 1944 University Archives & Manuscript Collections Department poster featuring an image of a Trainee at UH's Hilo Peace Corps Training Center, 1967 University Archives & Manuscript Collections Department poster featuring an image of people posing inside a geodesic dome at the 1976 Engingeering Open House

Reference and research requests fulfilled:

111: Public = 70 for the public, UHM = 23, 10 = other UH entities, 6 = graduate students, and 2 = undergraduates

Student workers consolidated multiple collections to reflect the evolution of the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources facilitating identification and retrieval of Hawaii Experimental Station Reports and Hawaii Cooperative Extension Service. Continuing the relationship with the Native Hawaiian Student Services who underwrote an undergraduate student to work on the Luciano Minerbi Papers this work was continued by a Library and Information Science graduate student for her practicum whose work can be seen below.

Acquisitions 

  • Miles Jackson Papers 0.75 linear feet.  Joining UHM in 1975 Dr. Jackson was named Dean of the Graduate School of Library Science in 1983 and retired as Dean Emeritus from the School of Library and Information Sciences in 1995. 
  • University of Hawaiʻi Systems Reorganization 0.01 linear foot. Two sets related to West Oʻahu and one for Kauai Community College
  • Yujen Edward and Juliet Wai-Mun Yuen Hsia Papers 3 linear feet. Personal and professional papers of Ted and Juliet Hsia, 1.5LF, Photographs, col. and b&w, .5 LF, Realia (medals and awards) .5 LF, and published works. .5 LF Reminiscences, articles, and Julietʻs obituary sent in electronic format via email after physical collection secured.
  • Beverly Ann Deepe Keever Papers, 1943 – 2013, 0.25 linear feet. Images in three formats, col. photoprints, negatives, and digitized version on compact discs of protests “STOP UARC [University Affiliated Research Center]” and compact disc of work by Anthony Blazejack, student of Keever during the year of UARC activities supplements her existing collection of 6.5 linear feet. Keever, a journalist and professor emeritus of journalism at the University of Hawaiʻ represented a prominent voice of opposition during the mid-2000s debate over whether the University should sign a contract with the U.S. Navy that would make it a University Affiliated Research Center (UARC). Consequently, her papers consist of mixed materials that focus on the UARC debate and protests; records of meetings of the UH Board of Regents and Mānoa Faculty Senate; and news coverage of other developments in the University, Hawaiʻi, and the United States. A related collection is held at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 
  • KTUH, 15 linear feet. This accession includes administrative, correspondence and publications which supplements the existing 12.05 linear feet records covering the University of Hawaiʻiʻs radio station’s 50th anniversary.

Processed

  • Industrial Relations Center (ICS), 1947 – 2018, 25 linear feet. Established in 1948 to promote the understanding of collective bargaining and the agreed-upon determination of wages, hours, benefits and working conditions by labor and management providing “a sound understanding of labor-management problems, labor-management techniques and policies; and to provide for labor, management and the community sources of information in the field of industrial relations, through such medium as…(1) a curriculum for training of young men for industrial relations positions; credit courses for University students and non-credit courses for the general public…(2) a library devoted to maintaining current materials and information in the field of labor-management relations, as well as basic and standard sources…(3) a library reference service for the purpose of making this information available to both labor and management…(4) public lectures, conferences and discussion groups…(5) research studies in basic industrial relations problems.” Harold S. Roberts was the IRC founder and first dean of the College of Business Administration. In 1970, Roberts passed away and was replaced as IRC director by John Ferguson. When Ferguson retired in 1978, Chancellor Wytze Gorter named Joyce M. Najita as director, a position she held for 40 years. IRC was closed in 2019 with the retirement of Najita and selected published material was dispersed to other units of Hamilton Library. 
  • Mistuo Aoki Papers, 1959 – 1995, 5 linear feet. The collection reflects a broad range of Aokiʻs endeavors as theologian, founder of the University of Hawaiʻis Department of Religion, who counseled hundreds on the “living their dying” through his efforts to bring Hospice care to Hawaiʻ classes offered, publications, and the multitude of speeches reflecting his work as a theologian, minister, professor and founder of the University of Hawaii”s Department of Religion. The collection contains his preparation materials for classes taught, his community engagements, both workshops and speeches, and his notes for his publications and articles written about him. 
  • Luciano Minerbi, 1969 – 2018, 57 linear feet. Reflecting his 50 years in the Department of Urban Planning and work in community planning, three series which have been processed are covered in “The Luciano Minerbi Collection: ​50 years of collaborative community activism through urban and ​regional planning,” an online exhibit by LIS student intern Sharnelle Renti-Cruz. They include his notes and products on UHM Research Projects and Practicums, Island Planning Research and Instructional Projects, and Contract projects which includes the projects which Dr. Minerbi was individually or team contracted to do with C.A.N.D.O. (Cultural Advocacy Network Developing Options) team along with Dr. Davianna McGregor and Dr. Jon Matsuoka. Work includes projects such a: The Sāmoa Village Planning project, and the North Kohala Native Hawaiian Cultural Landscape Assessment.
  • Harold S. Roberts Papers, 1917 – 2020, 10.38 linear feet. The IRC records included papers of its first director and first dean of the College of Business Administration, Roberts providing an opportunity to process his collection held in the archives unprocessed for fifty years. Responsible for Roberts’ dictionary of industrial relations, published in 1967 followed by three more editions posthumously, the collection reflects his endeavors at the University, extensive arbitration and mediation work and community including his election to the 1950 Constitutional Convention. Records from Roberts’ role as Administrative Assistant to Governor Oren E. Long, 1950 – 1953 provide insight into the Territorial issues including lobbying for statehood. 

The Archivist for University Records’ professional and community service in 2020  included:

Today I Learned – A reflection from the Manuscript Collections

It goes without saying that part of an archivist’s job is familiarity with the collections that one stewards.  This knowledge lets us answer reference questions, write useful finding aids and descriptive guides, and create meaningful exhibits.  Perhaps not as obvious, however, is the fact that we know some of our collections considerably better than others.  Reference patrons are not equally interested in all of the eras, topics, and people documented in our materials; as a result, our knowledge tends to coalesce around those that are requested time and again.  

Indeed, repeated requests by researchers can spark an archivist’s own interest in a topic!  This explains why there were a few years in the mid-2000s when I—who have attended approximately two whole baseball games in my life—could recite the entire roster of the winning 1955 World Series Team.  (Not-coincidentally, I acquired this knowledge while working at the Brooklyn Historical Society, and I still to this day think of the Los Angeles National League team as the ‘Brooklyn’ Dodgers.) 

This kind of serendipitous learning is one of my favorite things about working as an archivist.  When I was in library school, someone flippantly described archival work as ‘reading dead people’s mail.’  While this certainly describes some of our holdings—and also some of the work involved in making those collections intelligible to researchers interested in a particular topic—I think it can more humanistically be described as becoming familiar with the passions of both our researchers and the people represented in our collections, so that we may connect the former with the latter on matters of mutual concern.    

Getting back to our manuscript collections, this has been my recent experience with the Marjorie Grant Whiting papers.  Thanks to a reference question posed by one of our intrepid patrons, I now know that there are connections between neurodegenerative diseases—including, potentially, ALS—and diet.

Specifically, diets heavy in cycads (plants that often resemble, but are not related to, palms), can contribute to neurodegenerative disease as a result of a protein produced by the cycads’ symbiotic bacteria.  Whiting studied food and medicinal uses of plants, including cycads, in her research in various Asian, Oceanic, and African countries from the 1950s through the 1970s; cycad poisoning was one of the foci of that research.  (Indeed, one of Whiting’s papers is cited in the Wikipedia entry for BMAA, the neurotoxic protein found to be correlated with such diseases.)   

There is a thrill in being able to satisfy an uncommon research request, but archivists can’t collect everything, and furthermore can’t always predict what the ‘just-in-case’ value of a particular collection will be decades into the future.  When collections are rarely—if ever—used, it can lead us to wonder whether the need our predecessors predicted for that collection might have evaporated.  So, when those rarely-used collections do get requested, it reaffirms a more-expansive approach to collecting.  It also brings an opportunity to delve into areas we might otherwise have never thought to explore! 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s