Exploring Space and Place in the Hawaiʻi Congressional Papers Collection

Guest post by Meagan Harden, 2022-2023 HCPC graduate student fellow

As a geographer, I’m constantly paying attention to space and place. Space refers to a general location – for example, “the ocean” could be a space, as could Campus Center or Hamilton Library. Place, on the other hand, contains the meanings that people attach to particular spaces, transforming a space from a physical area into somewhere imbued with stories, experiences, or memories. “The ocean” becomes the place where people swim or pick ʻopihi; Campus Center becomes the place where students meet for coffee between classes; Hamilton Library becomes the place where I spend hours combing through documents for my dissertation.

What happens when a space contains different meanings for different people? This question guided my research as I entered the Hawaiʻi Congressional Papers Collection. As part of my dissertation, this research sought insight into how U.S. government officials have perceived and represented the thousands of islands included in the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, a post-
World War II political entity in the Western Pacific Ocean that consisted of what are today the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia (including Yap, Kosrae, Chuuk, and Pohnpei), Palau, and the Marshall Islands.

From reading books such as David Hanlon’s (1998) Remaking Micronesia: Discourses Over Development in a Pacific Territory, 1944-1982, the Teaching Oceania series from the Center for Pacific Island Studies, and especially watching Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner’s Lessons from Hawaii spoken word performance, I knew that U.S. governmental representations of the Trust Territory might be radically different from how local people understand the places they call home. For people living on any of these islands, the places themselves are layered with memories – perhaps a particular stretch of coast marks a favorite family picnic spot, or the monthly craft market, or the birthplace of an archipelago where one’s ancestors first fished islands out of the sea. However, because the United States’ main interest in the Trust Territory was driven by military strategy, I expected the federal government’s place-making representations to focus on characteristics such as a harbor’s suitability for war ships or an island’s proximity to enemy forces.

My foray into the Congressional Papers of Senators Daniel Inouye and Hiram Fong confirmed these suspicions, with added layers of complexity. For example, officials from the U.S. Departments of the Interior, State, and Defense tend to represent the islands as remote, minuscule, and utterly dependent on the benevolence of American government; in contrast, while legislators from Hawaiʻi do still represent the Trust Territory as distant and small, they are much more openly critical of the shortcomings of American governance that harmed the islands physically, economically, and culturally. Rather than one homogenous representation of the islands, then, the Hawaiʻi Congressional Papers Collection reveals a range of perspectives that, at times, challenge one another.

Furthermore, the perspectives coming from the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands differ even more significantly from outsider representations. Whereas U.S. Senator Spiro Agnew (R – Maryland) describes the region as lacking in natural resources, Congress of Micronesia Senator Wilfred Kendall (from the Marshall Islands) argues that “our islands have the capacity to provide for the body and spirit in abundance.” Similarly, a U.S. document pertaining to political status negotiations with the Northern Mariana Islands calls the island of Farallon de Medinilla “a target area,” reducing the island to a military strategy point; however, as experts from the Northern Mariana Islands point out, Farallon de Medinilla has historically provided a safe haven for migratory birds, while abundant coral reefs have made it hospitable for all kinds of marine life (Hofschneider, 2016).

Excerpt from remarks by Congress of Micronesia Senator Wilfred Kendall to the United Nations Trusteeship Council on June 3, 1975. Senator Daniel K. Inouye Papers, Hawaiʻi Congressional Papers Collection, University Archives & Manuscripts Department, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Library.

So, why is it important to look at these representations of space and place? If we read these archival documents alongside current events, we can start to connect military-oriented representations with pressing environmental and cultural issues. If an island is represented as nothing more than a target for weapons, it becomes easier to ignore the flora, fauna, and spiritual importance of the island, as we see happening at Farallon de Medinilla. If an entire region is depicted as lacking natural resources, we overlook the local sustainable food systems that have nourished islanders for thousands of years; this contributes to the impression that islanders require outside assistance to sustain themselves, which in turn facilitates dependence on imported processed foods (Heaton, 2021).

How we represent space matters because it informs how we think about places, which in turn guides our actions toward or within those places. Places like Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, where the U.S. conducts military testing (Downey, 2019), or the island of Peleliu in Palau, where unexploded ordnance from World War II threatens local lives (Island Times, 2021), have been homelands for much longer than they’ve been military sites. Perhaps re-presenting them as such can offer hope for a brighter, safer future for all.

About the author

Meagan Harden is a Ph.D. candidate and lecturer in the Department of Geography and Environment at the University of Hawai̒ʻi at Mānoa. Her research examines American imperialism in island spaces, focusing particularly on the production of spatial imaginaries and the ways in which islanders resist, subvert, and/or accommodate them. With an M.A. in International Studies and a graduate certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies from the University of Oklahoma, Meagan aims to use critical feminist and anarchist frameworks to disrupt conventional geopolitical paradigms that represent islands and islanders as peripheral agents in international relations. When she is not teaching, writing, or exploring the archives, Meagan enjoys outrigger canoe paddling, yoga, and reading fiction.

As part of her fellowship research, Meagan also curated this primary source set and presented this talk about Senator Fongʻs and Senator Inouyeʻs 1965 Pacific State Proposal to annex the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands into the state of Hawaiʻi.

National Endowment for the Humanities awards UH Mānoa Library, partners funds to develop online portal for congressional archives

The American Congress Digital Archives Portal Project, led by West Virginia University Libraries, has received a nearly $350,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to expand the American Congress Digital Archives Portal, the first-ever online portal bringing together congressional archives from repositories throughout the United States.

The UH Mānoa Libraryʻs Hawaiʻi Congressional Papers Collection is proud to be a project partner, along with the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center at the University of Oklahoma, the Dirksen Congressional Center, the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas, the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies at University of Georgia.

“The personal papers of members of Congress are vitally important for understanding Congress as an institution, public policy development, and the many diverse stories that comprise the American experience,” Danielle Emerling, Congressional and Political Papers archivist at WVU Libraries and project director, said. “We are honored to have support from the NEH to make more congressional archives available to everyone.” The NEH awarded WVU Libraries the initial grant to launch the project and create the portal in 2021.

The project addresses many practical access barriers to using congressional archives. Unlike presidential papers, which are centralized in one location, congressional collections are geographically dispersed across institutions large and small. For researchers, collections may be difficult to use, both because of a lack of travel funding and varying levels of description in congressional archives.

“This project will specifically address the critical needs of rural and geographically isolated regions of our country to make national records available to all citizens,” Dr. Kelli Nakamura, associate professor of history at the University of Hawai‘i, said. “It will also highlight the connections that exist between members of Congress and illuminate the collaborative efforts that often ensure the successful passage of legislative bills and initiatives.”

The project will include a breadth of materials dating from the mid-nineteenth century to the early twenty-first century and support civic and history education initiatives that help connect the past to the present.

Materials that the Hawaiʻi Congressional Papers Collection will contribute to the portal include all of Senator Daniel K. Inouye’s speeches, materials documenting Senator Hiram L. Fong’s 1959 trip to Asia, Senator Spark M. Matsunaga’s speeches on redress for Japanese Americans incarcerated during WWII, some of Congressman Neil Abercrombie’s materials on the Iraq war, and all of Senator Daniel K. Akaka’s speeches.

Vice President Al Gore, Senator Daniel Inouye, Representative Patsy Mink, Representative Neil Abercrombie, and Senator Daniel Akaka with President Bill Clinton, signing the Apology Resolution. Senator Daniel K. Inouye Papers, Hawai’i Congressional Papers Collection, University Archives & Manuscripts Department, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Library

This grant project builds on an NEH foundations grant awarded in 2021, which resulted in a prototype portal and included archives from WVU Libraries, the Dole Institute of Politics, and the Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education. The project has also received support from LYRASIS and the Association of Centers for the Study of Congress.

The NEH’s Humanities Collections and Reference Resources program supports projects that provide an essential underpinning for scholarship, education, and public programming in the humanities. The project was selected for funding, in part, by a new agency-wide special initiative, “American Tapestry: Weaving Together Past, Present, and Future,” because the project will help emphasize the role of the humanities in tackling contemporary social challenges: strengthening our democracy, advancing equity for all, and addressing our changing climate.

Senator Inouye’s Press Releases (1963-2012) Digitized

It has been 10 years since the passing of U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye. One way to understand the Senator’s legacy is through his Senate press releases, which have recently been digitized by the UH Mānoa Library. The press releases, which document nearly 50 years of the Senator’s steadfast advocacy for Hawaiʻi in the U.S. Congress, add to the 64,000+ pages of archival material on legislative accomplishments, Native Hawaiian issues, Japanese Latin American Internment, and Kahoʻolawe that have already been digitized.

In addition to documenting issues of local, national, and international significance, the press releases are also a great resource for tracking federal funding for Hawaiʻi in sectors such as defense, agriculture, natural resource management, education, healthcare, social services, transportation, shipping, infrastructure, arts and culture, and more.

Below is a selection of press releases from the collection:

One of the most compelling aspects of this collection is its chronological scope. The period between 1963 and 2012 saw tremendous transformation in Hawaiʻi, the nation, and the world. Senator Inouye’s press releases accordingly reflect hope, resolve, disquiet, sometimes frustration–but never despair. The Senator’s commitment to bipartisanship and belief in democracy through these many years are reassuring reminders, especially in these last years when so much has seemed uncertain.

Mahalo to the Daniel K. Inouye Institute and to the library’s current DKI project team: Donovan Balderama, Daniel Ishimitsu, Alisa Kwok, Wen Lin, Jill Seapker, and Dawn Sueoka. 

This effort is part of an ongoing initiative, supported by the Daniel K. Inouye Institute, to digitize portions of the Senator’s archives. In the next few years, we will add to our digital collections Senator Inouye’s newsletters, all of his speeches, and records from the Senator’s years in the U.S. House (1959-1963), which document Hawaiʻi’s transition to statehood.

How to access the press releases

The best way to access the press releases and other digitized material from the Senator Daniel K. Inouye Papers is through the collectionʻs online finding aid. Archival finding aids provide contextual information about a collection and its major “series” (large categories of documents), as well as a hierarchical listing of the collectionʻs contents. The Inouye collection is organized according to the functions of the Senator’s Washington, D.C., and Honolulu offices.

Navigate the collection by exploring the nested list on the right side of the interface. Digitized files will appear as icons in red. Chronological press releases can be found within the Administrative files series; Washington, D.C. office subseries; Public Relations sub-subseries.

Senator Daniel K. Inouye Papers finding aid in ArchivesSpace, showing link to digitized folder.

You can download all press releases at once using the link at the top of this page.

A note on the preparation of the files

In the preparation of these documents, emphasis was placed on enabling researchers to reliably search the content of the press releases themselves. 

Material was digitized at 400 PPI in 24-bit color.

In preparation for OCR correction, PDFs created before September 2022 include image preprocessing such as text straightening and page rotation by ABBYY FineReader. PDFs created after September 2022 have these features turned off.

Document zoning was manually corrected using ABBYY FineReader.

All text was recognized using ABBYY FineReader.

OCR was manually corrected using the ABBYY FineReader Verification function, except in the following cases: 

  • Non-press release material included as attachments, e.g., Congressional Record remarks, newspaper clippings, correspondence, forms was not corrected
  • Text in document headers, footers (e.g., fax transmittal information) was not corrected
  • 1963-1964 folders where pages were too faded or carbon copy text was too blurry to produce editable OCR were not corrected

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.

Commissioning of the USS Daniel Inouye

On December 8, the USS Daniel Inouye (DDG 118) was commissioned at Pearl Harbor. The destroyer, whose motto is “Go For Broke,” honors Senator Inouye’s life and public service.

Left: Daniel Inouye enlisting in the army as a University of Hawaiʻi freshman, ca. January-February 1943. Photo: Ka Leo. Senator Daniel K. Inouye Papers, Hawaiʻi Congressional Papers Collection, University Archives & Manuscripts Department, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Library. Right: The USS Daniel Inouye.

Inouye, a member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, represented Hawaiʻi in the U.S. House from 1959 to 1963, and in the U.S. Senate from 1963 until his death in 2012. The Hawaiʻi Congressional Papers Collection is honored to be the home of Senator Inouye’s papers. The Senator Daniel K. Inouye Papers, consisting of over 1,000 boxes, reflect much of Hawaiʻiʻs development from statehood through the early 2000s. Subjects that are well represented in the collection include land, agriculture, the military, maritime issues, natural resources issues, healthcare, programs and legislation relating to Native Hawaiians, and the effort to obtain redress for Japanese and Japanese Latin Americans interned during World War II.

The late Senator Bob Dole with Senator Inouye, May 9, 1986. As WWII soldiers wounded in Italy a week apart, Dole and Inouye recovered together at what is now known as the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center in Battle Creek, Michigan. U.S. Senate Photograph. Senator Daniel K. Inouye Papers, Hawaiʻi Congressional Papers Collection, University Archives & Manuscripts Department, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Library.

Learn more about the Senator Daniel K. Inouye Papers by exploring the finding aid, which also includes links to material that has been digitized. If you have questions, or would like assistance accessing or navigating the collection, please reach out to Congressional Papers Archivist Dawn Sueoka (sueokad@hawaii.edu).

We look forward to continuing to broaden access to this incredibly significant collection!

In Appreciation of Campaign Volunteers

“This will not be a tea party. It will be a tough, hard fight and none of us can afford to let down for a minute.”

–1962 election speakers’ kit, Senator Daniel K. Inouye Papers

We’re used to seeing candidates on debates, on the news, in commercials, on social media. What’s a lot less visible is the labor of the thousands of volunteers working tirelessly behind the scenes stuffing envelopes, arranging speaking engagements and coffee hours, phone banking, canvassing, coordinating fundraisers, and registering voters. From silk screening T-shirts to repairing torn banners, every contribution matters. “No matter how you spend your day, you can do something to help Sparky!” reported the August 26, 1964, edition of Sparky Re-election Campaign News (Senator Spark M. Matsunaga Papers).

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An Invitation to Celebrate: the 1979 Establishment of Asian Pacific American Heritage Week

Flyers for Asian Pacific American Heritage Week events, May 1979. Senator Daniel K. Inouye Papers. Reports of racism and xenophobia, along with the disproportionate way that COVID-19 has been impacting our communities, are bringing an increased sense of urgency to May 2020’s Asian Pacific American Heritage Month celebrations. They echo some of the reasons for establishing the original designation over 40 years ago. The now month-long event was first celebrated for just a week: the week of May 4, 1979.

Efforts to establish the first Asian Pacific American Heritage Week were coordinated by the Asian Pacific Congressional Staff Caucus and National Coalition for an Asian Pacific American Proclamation, led by Ruby G. Moy, Chief of Staff for Representative Frank Horton (R-NY), and Jeanie Jew, a Capitol Hill staff member whose grandfather, M. Y. Lee, had immigrated to the U.S. from China to help build the transcontinental railroad and was later killed in Oregon during a period of anti-Asian unrest. According to Representative Horton, this inspired Jew’s belief that “not only should Asians understand their own heritage…all Americans must know about the contributions and histories of the Asian-Pacific American experience in the United States” (Rep. Horton (NY). “Asian/Pacific-American Heritage Month,” Congressional Record 138 (4 Oct. 1992) p. 31364–access for UHM users via HeinOnline).

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