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Romanzo Adams Social Research Laboratory

Student Papers


RASRL Student Papers

We are proud to launch a searchable database that includes the first round of entries that will make the papers more accessible to our researchers. More will be added throughout the year so check back often.

The database was created with support from a Hawaii Council for the Humanities grant. The project’s humanities scholar Dr. Christine Kirk-Kuwaye inspired the team with her dedication in reading every paper and joyfully sharing new discoveries. The Library project team included Lynn Davis, Dainan Skeem, Charise Michelsen, Sherman Seki and Daniel Ishimitsu. Contact us at if you have questions or if you know one of the students who wrote a paper.


A short history of the Romanzo Adams Social Research Laboratory (RASRL) is on the main page. Most of the faculty of the Department of Sociology at the University of Hawaii followed the philosophies of instruction in sociology established at the University of Chicago. Dr. Romanzo Adams, the first professor of sociology at the University of Hawaii, and later Dr. Andrew Lind both received their PhD from Chicago. These men and later faculty structured their courses so as to foster their students working on research projects within the "laboratory" which was Hawaii. Early, the faculty began saving some student writing to include in resource files for later student use. Evidence of a circulating system for the student papers exists in a notice instructing the students to record their names, dates materials were removed and titles of removed materials; and in a single-sheet list containing surnames of students borrowing some papers.

Student Papers: 1924—1960s

The Romanzo Adams Social Research Laboratory Student Papers echoed the concern of the faculty in the Laboratory to document the variety of sociological phenomena occurring in Hawaii. From the beginning, race relations was one of the primary subjects. Ethnic identities and relations received equal emphasis. Cultural and religious institutions within the various groups and generational conflicts are also widely covered. Though the United states military has wielded immense influence in Hawaii during the twentieth century, during World War II the heavy influx of military personnel and Mainland civilians into Hawaii had a major impact on daily life here, resulting in an increase in student papers on subjects related to haoles, interracial dating and marriage, race relations, and the changing workplace relations. Changing ethnic customs, labor unions, the coming of statehood and politics of the post-World War II period are also covered. The papers offer firsthand accounts of what the people of Hawaii thought and felt over a forty-year period of change, turmoil and progress.

The Student Papers are currently divided into three subseries. The first in time is Subseries A, consisting of student papers in which the author is identified by name. The papers are filed alphabetically by surname. These papers date from as early as 1924 into the 1950s and cover a wide range of topics. The second subseries, without a letter prefix, is by far the largest of the subseries of student papers, containing some 10,000 student papers. Primarily the identities of these students are hidden by codes although some names appear. The codes usually identify the sociology class and section for which the paper was written, the student’s ethnicity and sex. A typical code may be 254-2-j-f-25 referring to Sociology 254, section 2, with the author being a Japanese American or Japanese female, number 25. Other codes include the calendar year and semester of the course. The code system allowed RASRL faculty to make student papers immediately available to other sociology students without endangering the privacy of the writers. Privacy concerns seem to be the major reason for the division of the second series from the first series. The dates of the second subseries overlap somewhat with the first and extend into the late 1960s. This ending date shows the merging that faculty in Sociology made between RASRL and their classes; faculty continued filing student papers from their classes in the RASRL files after RASRL was disorganized in 1964. Third subseries, Subseries J, are student journals, much more abbreviated entries, made over a period of time and documenting concerns of the sociological class(es) being taken by the students. The Journals subseries occurred primarily during World War II and may have been instituted by RASRL faculty because of the need to restrict consumption of paper and other commodities.

Series A has a separate inventory. The main series and the J-series are in one large database. This is a made available in pdf format. If a researcher wishes to have a sorted version, reference staff in Archives & Manuscripts will try to provide this service, but we are short staffed and may not be able to do this quickly.

Finding aids for these series are also available in the Archives Reading Room.


Series A

Main Series and Series J

Hawaiian Fonts

The names of some writers and especially the names of places used in the titles of these essays has created a challenge for archival staff in transferring the finding aid into html code for use on the web.

Additional information on Hawaiian Fonts

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