Researching in Early Hawai'i Newspapers

Until relatively recently, those looking for information in Hawai'i newspapers published before 1929 had limited options. That was the year in which the first indexes for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and Honolulu Advertiser were published; for newspapers prior to that, indexing was at best sporadic (and often non-existent), leaving researchers in many cases to pore over issue after issue of microfilmed paper in search of specific information.

The Ho'olapa'i: Hawaiian Nupepa Collection (a joint venture of Alu Like, Inc., Bishop Museum and UH-Hilo's Hale Kuamo'o) now provides unprecedented online access to Hawaiian-language newspapers published between 1834 and 1948. Meanwhile, two projects being undertaken by the UH-Manoa Library are aiding in access to the early English-language newspapers (which also began publishing in the 1830s).

The Bob Krauss Index: In 2006 the Hawaiian Collection received the private research index created by the late Bob Krauss, longtime columnist for the Honolulu Advertiser. Krauss' wide-ranging interests were legendary, and his index, though not a complete listing of every article published in every paper, covers nearly thirty 19th- and 20th-century publications, including the Polynesian, the Friend, the Hawaiian Star and the Hilo Daily Tribune. At present, there are more than 44,000 index entries in the online database, with more being added on a near daily basis.

National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP): Launched in 2005, the NDNP ultimately aims to digitize several million newspaper pages published between 1836 and 1922, as part of the National Endowment for the Humanities' We The People initiative. Researchers of Hawaiian history will recognize this date span as among the most critically important in Hawaiian history, encompassing a period of intense political and social change. It was also a period of intense media scrutiny, with the first Hawaiian-language newspaper being published in 1834 and the first English paper in 1836.

Since 2008, Hamilton Library has received two separate grants (totalling nearly $350,000) to participate in the NDNP, in partnership with the Hawai‘i State Public Library System and the Hawai'i State Archives. When these grant projects are completed, some 100,000 pages of early, English-language newspapers from Hawai'i will be freely available online at the Library of Congress' Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers website, with every page being full-text searchable.

The Library is currently working to digitize from microfilm the following newspapers: The Independent (May 1, 1895 - June 15, 1895); The Daily Herald (Sept. 1, 1886 - July 30, 1887); The Independent (June 24, 1895 - Oct. 31, 1905); The Hawaiian Gazette (Jan. 21, 1865 - Nov. 29, 1918); and The Honolulu Republican (June 14, 1900 - Jan. 25, 1902). The Library has also received three bound volumes of the Hilo Tribune Herald (Nov. 23, 1895 - June 27, 1917), on loan from the Library of Congress, in order to microfilm and then digitize the issues. These particular volumes are not presently held in complete form anywhere in Hawai'i.

Taken in tandem, the NDNP, Ho'olaupa'i and Krauss Index projects provide an unprecedented level of access into Hawai'i's early newspapers, and could literally help to rewrite history. Last June, the first 12,603 Hawai'i NDNP pages were made publicly accessible. For more information on this project, click here


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