These sources are useful as a first step in identifying biographical writing. Note: Island Lives and the Historical Dictionary of Oceania are both currently available online; Who's Who in Asia and the Pacific is not available online.
OneSearch is the University's "discovery layer," which allows you to search for a variety of materials simultaneously. It does not search through everything that you have access to as a UH-Manoa student, but it is a very good starting point. When doing biographical research, there are three basic steps you should take, which will help you to 1. find materials written by a person; 2. find materials written about a person; and 3. find material about the historical era during which a person lived. For each of the below searches, start in the "advanced search" mode of Onesearch (click here to go there):
Finding material by the person (this includes autobiographies as well as any other writings a person did, which are useful in understanding the times in which the person lived). In advanced search mode, click on the box labelled "Any Field" and change to "Author/Creator." You can leave all the other fields as they are, and then search for your person using their last name followed by their first name (for example, to find works by Selina Tusitala Marsh, search: Marsh, Selina Tusitala). Note: If a person's name is distinctive enough, you can often get away with using only one name ... for instance, searching for Liliuokalani will find all works authored by Lydia Liliʻu Loloku Walania Kamakaʻeha (though you'll also get some false hits, because the Liliuokalani Trust is also considered an "author" of some 20th and 21st century publications). Where a last name is more common, you will need to use both names (for instance, there are several writers with the last name Wendt ... if you're looking for information specific to Albert Wendt, you will need to use both names to avoid many "false hits.")
Finding material about the person (this includes book-length biographies written by others, as well as some chapters in books or scholarly journal articles that include some information about the person). In advanced search mode, click on the box labelled "Any Field" and change to "Subject." You can leave all the other fields as they are, and then search for your person using their last name followed by their first name, as in search number "1" above.
Finding material about the period in which the person lived. In advanced search mode, leave the box labelled "Any Field" just as it is, and leave all other fields as they are as well. Then just type in the name of the person you're looking for (unlike numbers 1 and 2 above, the ordering of the name doesn't matter -- you can search either Selina Tusitala Marsh or Marsh, Selina Tusitala and will get the same results). This searches the entire "universe" of material that OneSearch looks at, for any mention of the person you're looking for. But note that it does not search that entire universe in a uniform way (for more on this, see the "OneSearch versus HathiTrust" box, below).
If you want to browse library sources and don't have a specific person in mind, one simple way is to use OneSearch's "advanced search" mode, with the search filters set to "subject" and "contains" (make sure it's "contains" and not "is" or "begins"), and then combine either a place or region with "women." e.g. Pacific women, Maori women, Vanuatu women and so forth. You can also add "directories" or "biography" (or "biographies") to narrow the results a little, if they seem too broad (Pacific women biography or Maori women biography and so forth). This is an example of a search using the terms Women Pacific Biography.
OneSearch and HathiTrust are both places where you can find electronic books; when you use OneSearch, you are also searching for books within HathiTrust, but there are reasons to search in both places:
OneSearch is a "search aggregator," which means that it searches for a wide variety of resources (books, films, journal articles, audio recordings) in a wide variety of places (within Hamilton library, in various electronic databases, on the open internet and elsewhere). So the advantage of OneSearch over HathiTrust is that it searches a much broader "universe" of information than HathiTrust, and will give you access to electronic books that are not available through HathiTrust.
HathiTrust is also a type of search aggregator, but it is more limited than OneSearch, in that it only searches for electronic books and only searches for those books that are freely available from a select group of libraries that are members of HathiTrust -- so there are electronic books that you will find in OneSearch that you will not find in HathiTrust, because OneSearch also searches for books that the library pays for, and which aren't feely available through HathiTrust. The advantage to searching directly in HathiTrust instead of in OneSearch is that, for the books that are in HathiTrust, HathiTrust can be used to search through the entire text of all the books it holds for the keywords you are using (OneSearch does not search the full-text of electronic books, only the "metadata" -- the title, the author, the publisher and so forth).
While OneSearch is a very useful search tool, it has certain limitations ... one of them is that in most cases it does not search the full-text of books -- often when researching the biographies of Pacific Islanders, you may find that while there are not full-length books about a person, they may well be mentioned in works that relate to the times they live in. In these cases, OneSearch might not find the book because it is not specifically (or substantially) about that individual. In these cases Google Books can be a useful tool: Because it searches the full text of many books (not all books, but many), Google Books goes deeper into the text of books than OneSearch does, and at times will find mentions of people that you wouldn't otherwise find. In most cases, Google Books does not allow you to read the text online; however, it does provide you with the title of the book and the page numbers a given name appears on -- with this information, you can then find the book in OneSearch -- in cases where an electronic version of the book is available, the library will probably have purchased access to it for you; otherwise, if the book is related to Hawaii or the Pacific, the library should own a physical copy of it.
These websites contain useful biographical information.