University of Hawaii at Manoa Library

About the Hawaiian Collection

Back to the Hawaiian Collection.


The Hawaiian Collection is the world's foremost collection of published materials about the Hawaiian Islands from the nineteenth century to the present. It dates from the Spring of 1908, about a year after the founding of the College of Hawaii (later the University of Hawaii), when $350 worth of Hawaiiana books were purchased by the fledgling institution. The Board of Regents decided to "Complete, as far as possible, the books on and about Hawaii now in the College Library."

In 1927, 1,500 books in the University library were recataloged into a separate Hawaiian Collection housed in a special room. While use increased, not until 1935 did the Collection have a full-time librarian in charge. Today the greatly expanded Hawaiian Collection is a major component of the Special Collections Department in UH's Thomas Hale Hamilton Library.

The generosity of private collectors and donors has been central to the growth and reputation of the Hawaiian Collection. Excellence was achieved through private gifts, among the earlier being those from Alatau L.C. Atkinson, Joseph S. Emerson, James Tice Phillips, and William Drake Westervelt.

The primary purpose of the Hawaiian Collection is to support the teaching and research functions of the University. Community members and researchers from all over the world use it heavily as well.

The acquisition policy is comprehensive. All aspects of Hawaii and levels of writing are collected in print and non-print formats. Video and audio recordings and motion pictures are acquired. There are no limitations regarding chronological period, country of origin or language. Manuscripts such as letters, personal papers, and diaries of individuals are sought. Local newsletters, scripts, scrapbooks, sheet music, variant editions, juvenile books, pamphlets, ephemera, and other materials add depth and breadth. A special effort is made to obtain publications in the Hawaiian language and their translations into English.

For more information, please see our Collection Development Policy.

Copyright © 2004. University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. All rights reserved.
Last updated October 2004

Terms of Use  |  UH Mānoa  |  UH System  |  Ask Us
University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Library  |  2550 McCarthy Mall  |  Honolulu, Hawaii 96822 USA
808-956-7214 (Reference)  |  808-956-7203 (Circulation)  |  808-956-7205 (Administration)
808-956-5968 (fax)  |  Email Us