Introducing our new student assistant

The Archives & Manuscripts Department welcomes a new addition to their staff.  Karen Kadohiro Lauer was hired as a student assistant this past December and plans to remain here until she graduates this fall with a master’s degree in Library and Information Science (LIS).  In addition to her studies in LIS, Karen is also working on earning a master’s degree in Anthropology.  She believes these fields are related as they both aspire to preserve historical and cultural information.  Our department has been keeping Karen busy inventorying shelves and reorganizing cabinets and files. She will soon begin processing the recently acquired Richard Sakakida Collection.  Please check back for more information on this new collection.



University Lab School children visit the Archives

The Archives was awash with activity on Monday, December 2nd. Twenty grade schoolers, grades 4 and 5, visited the normally-quiet reading room. Their excitement and energy filled the room as they looked at the Children’s Posters from the Hawaiʻi War Records Depository. For many of them, it was hard to contain their enthusiasm and remain quiet as they tried to interpret the meanings that these children, now the age of their grandparents and great-grandparents, painted into their posters. For those of us who have been in the field for a while, it was amazing to see so much excitement about looking at archival material.


The 4th and 5th graders arrive with their teacher, Erin Watanabe, in the lead.

Our exhibit, “War Through a Child’s Eyes: World War II Children’s Victory Posters from the Hawaiʻi War Records Depository” had already come to a close and been taken down. However, one of the children from the class, whose mother works here in Hamilton Library, had seen the exhibit just before it came down. He was excited about the exhibit due to his class studying about World War II and being assigned to interview a family member who had lived through the war. His grandfather had told him about being a child close to his age and remembering his class drawing and painting posters in support of the war. So he was able to convince his teacher to bring the entire class into the Library to see the posters.



In the end, they seemed to enjoy the experience, learned a few new things, and even taught the archivist a thing or two. Their thank you cards even incorporated many of the images we saw and discussed during their visit. Smart kids!



Hiraoka Papers Now Available

A recent addition to our Japanese American Veterans Collection, the William T. Hiraoka Papers are an expansive assemblage of documents, publications, photographs and artifacts belonging to Mr. Hiraoka and donated to our archive by his daughter, Nancy, in the summer of 2012.  Mr. Hiraoka was born in Waikiki in 1917, graduated from the University of Hawaii in 1939 with a degree in Business and Economics, and was drafted into the United States Army on November 14, 1941.  As a member of the Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC), he worked as an investigator on the internal security of Hawaii, and in 1942 was sent as a Special Agent-In-Charge to Australia.  In 1944, Mr. Hiraoka attended Officer Candidate School (OCS) and was sent to Hollandia, Dutch New Guinea, and later to Leyte Island in the Philippines; he then rotated Japan in 1945 as part of the occupation force after the empire’s surrender.  During the Allied Occupation of Japan, Mr. Hiraoka was the only Nisei-American to be present at the arrest of General Hideki Tojo, former Prime Minister of Japan who was directly responsible for the bombing of Pearl Harbor. When the Korean War broke out, Mr. Hiraoka worked as a civil administration officer with the U.S. Civil Administration on Ishigaki Island in Okinawa.  He returned to Hawaii where he continued to serve in the Army Reserves until his retirement in 1962 as a Lieutenant Colonel.  Upon his return from Okinawa, Mr. Hiraoka began his professional career in the insurance business, where he later became the president of Island Insurance in 1968, and ultimately president of National Mortgage Finance Company in 1978.

Mr. Hiraoka married Ruth Nakamoto in 1946, and the couple adopted two children, John and Nancy.  William T. Hiraoka died on October 27, 2006 at the age of 89.

The Hiraoka Papers encompasses Mr. Hiraoka’s military and professional life.  Highlights of the collection include his personal correspondence during WWII, photographs of his training and travels while in the military, military publications from the War, and artifacts that Mr. Hiraoka collected at his various duty locations.

To learn more about the William T. Hiraoka Papers, view its finding at


Introducing our new intern and collection

Ashley Hartwell recently joined our Archives & Manuscripts Department as an intern for the Fall 2013 semester.  Ashley is obtaining her Masters of Larchive-ashleyibrary and Information Science degree here at UH, and anticipates graduating this December.  She first became interested in archives while taking Introduction to Archival Management, taught in part by our head archivist, Dainan Skeem.  Her interest lead her to focus her studies on archives, and lead the Student Chapter of the Society of American Archivists for one year.  Prior to starting her graduate studies, Ashley served as an active duty officer in the United States Army for almost ten years; she continues to serve by working part-time in the Hawaii National Guard now.  Her military experience has already proven to be an asset to our department’s numerous military collections, which she has eagerly delved into.

Ashley has begun processing the Kintaro Hamashige Collection, a collection donated by the Hamashige family consisting largely of programs, newsletters, and pamphlets from the many Japanese American veterans associations that Mr. Kintaro Hamashige belongs to.  Mr. Hamashige was raised on Oahu, and after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, volunteered to serve in the United States Army’s Military Intelligence Service as a Japanese interpreter.  Many of the professional organizations that Mr. Hamashige has participated in over the years have advocated strongly for recognition of Japanese American contributions during WWII, as well as recompense for the Japanese internment during that time.  One of the most fascinating aspects of the new Collection is the many black and white photographs that Mr. Hamashige brought back from his time as a young Solider in Japan immediately after the signing of the surrender documents.Hamashige

McBee Keysort

We have a large collection of materials called the Hawaii War Records Depository that was donated during World War II by individuals, organizations, and corporations in an effort to document the war experience in Hawaii. It’s been stored in filing cabinets since it came here and have been damaged with the opening and closing the of the drawers. I figured it was time to get them out of the cabinets and into archival boxes. So, in doing this, I found a fun artifact that I learned more about today.



This is a McBee keysort. The papers inside the box have holes all along the sides, each hole representing a specific piece of information. In this case, the papers have employee’s names and addresses on it. The key assigns places to the numbers so that you can quickly filter out everyone who lives in Honolulu (or wherever you are interested in). How do you sort? Here’s a photo:


You put a metal rod through the hole you want and when you pull it up, only the ones you want come out on the rod. Brilliant! So if you are looking for those employees who live in Honolulu, you insert into the right numbered hole and pull out all your employees whose cards are not punched out. Of course, it makes me appreciate computers and databases more.

New exhibit in the Moir Reading Room


Our newest exhibit is now available for viewing by the public. Come see “War Through a Child’s Eyes: World War II Children’s Victory Posters from the Hawaiʻi War Records Depository.” During the war, in an effort to boost morale and support, the public education system had children create Victory Posters. Students in grade school all the way up to high school participated, giving a unique perspective to the war. Come see the exhibit; you might find a student or teacher with which you have a connection, as several students and staff have already done.

Location: Hamilton Library, Moir Reading Room, A550
Exhibit hours: Tuesday-Friday 10:00am-4:00pm

Varsity Victory Volunteers panel, Bishop Museum

On March 16, 2013, I was able to attend the Varsity Victory Volunteer panel that was held at Bishop Museum in conjunction with the Congressional Gold Medal Exhibit. Ted Tsukiyama, an important donor to the UH Archives’ Japanese American Veterans Collection, led the panel with Yoshiaki Fujitani and Akira Otani as panelists. I was able to record parts of their presentations. I didn’t think about needing a tripod, unfortunately, so I hope it’s not too shaky.