Introducing Donovan Balderama

Donovan Balderama

Greetings, my name is Donovan Balderama. I am incredibly grateful to announce to you that I am the new student worker here at the Hawaiʻi Congressional Papers Collection at UH Mānoa, recently hired by the Congressional Papers Archivist, Dawn Sueoka. A bit about me; I am a second year MLIS student in the archives pathway and have been profoundly interested in archival work since finishing up my undergraduate degree in American History. It was during my undergraduate degree in history that I had been introduced and exposed to the profession through primary source research and speaking with interesting archivists from different places with different backgrounds in the field. As I continue into my third week working at the Congressional Papers Collection, I am realizing more and more, that this profession is undoubtedly something that I would love to pursue in the long-term as a career.

Currently, I am in charge of working with three separate archival collections. However, in this blog, I will be writing about different themes or topics related to the Senator Daniel K. Inouye Papers. I found the Senator’s collection to be particularly intriguing because of the vastness and subject diversity of his collection, as well as the high level correspondence between his office, various federal government departments, communities, and individuals, of which pivotal information about both Hawaiʻi and the U.S as a whole is presented. He was an essential force in change and reform during his years as a senator, and a supreme force of good for the many different communities that he served. I find working on it to be interesting as well as a great experience to help me get familiarized with the overall collection.

The Senator Inouye Papers: Topic searched

For this blog post, I delved into some of the Senator’s documents related to the tragic event of the September 11 attack on the New York World Trade Centers. I figured that the Inouye collection would be an excellent place to look for 9-11 related materials because as we sometimes forget, along with witnessing 9-11, he also experienced a terror attack in his lifetime which caused massive hysteria in the United States; that being the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

In order to search for related materials, I used the database that we use called ArchivesSpace to search for resources in the Inouye collection. In his main collection, you can find the different series and subseries that that relate to various topics. After opening different file locations, I found that the best way to find related material was to look for the exact date or dates around September of 2001. I instantly found many related materials this way through both doing a text search and manually browsing the different folders I thought were related to the subject.

What I discovered

In the Staff Files series, I was able to find a lot of correspondence regarding post 9-11. For example, I found a correspondence letter from a student from Kīhei High School in Maui, who reached out to both Congresswoman Patsy Mink and Senator Inouye on a proposal to introduce a bill that would mint a coin in tribute to the victims on 9-11. It turns out they were both supportive of the proposal and introduced it in Congress sometime later. I also found an interesting news article mentioning the student’s efforts.

I was also able to find in the same folder, a letter from a man who was concerned about the recent racial profiling at airports by authorities and airline staff (this was before TSA), and compared it to the racial profiling and the surveillance on Japanese-American citizens during WWII with the FBI enemy lists. Attached in this finding is Senator Inouye’s response that mentions the Reasonable Search Standards Act, S.799, which was introduced in April 2001, only five months before the tragedy. Senator Inouye mentions his concern about recent policies being changed and assures the man that he would keep this in mind.

From a couple from Kāneʻohe, there was a letter addressed to Daniel Inouye regarding their frustration with the U.S government’s administrative handling of events post 9-11. They mention their dismay with the Bush administration by listing legislation such as the $25 billion hand out to non-anti-terror-related corporations for a federal counterterror fund; ineffective and “heavy-handed” airport security; and the FBI wire and email taps that have been monitoring “suspected terrorists.”

Overall, these documents certainly helped me to further understand the sentiment and opinions of people of various backgrounds relating to the tragedy during this time. These documents showed me that there were people around the nation and the world that observed and felt empathy, dismay, fear, frustration, and a whole array of other emotions; which naturally come with  historical calamities of such magnitudes. I believe the reason so many people such as students, politicians, foreign diplomats, and other individuals / groups addressed Daniel Inouye specifically, was because they felt that they could truly confide in the Senator, based on his own experience and track record for positive change. These people believed that, as a dignified, righteous, scrupulous, and steadfast American, he would listen and tend to the grievances that our democratic republic has allowed us to address for years despite the occasional setbacks.


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