Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Hawaiian & Pacific Collections Department: History of the Hawaiian Collection


COVID-19 Update

The Hawaiian and Pacific Collections reading room is now open to those affiliated with UH and EWC. Our hours are M-F, 10:00am-2:00pm. Requests for HP materials may be submitted through OneSearch.

Please see updates and how to contact us here.

The information provided on our webpages describe our collections and services generally, but may not reflect changes we are making as the situation evolves.

History of the Hawaiian Collection

The Hawaiian Collection of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa began in 1907, a year after the founding of the College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (now the University of Hawaiʻi), when the library purchased $350.00 worth of books about Hawaiʻi from a Honolulu bookstore. In 1927, 1,500 books were set aside into a separate Hawaiian Collection. Janet Bell, a University of Hawaiʻi graduate, became the first Hawaiian Collection librarian in 1935. At her retirement in 1970, the collection had grown to over 50,000 volumes.

As of 2000, the collection numbered 53,896 titles in 133,677 volumes, of which more than 2000 are currently received serials. There are over 90 feet of ephemera, 4,500 videotapes, 3,150 sound recordings, and 12,183 reels of microfilm.

The Hawaiian Collection is the world's most comprehensive library of current and retrospective materials pertaining to Hawaiʻi. All formats, languages, levels and treatment are collected. While all aspects of Hawaiʻi are of interest, special emphasis is placed on acquiring materials on Hawaiian studies (i.e. pertaining to native Hawaiians), ethnic studies of the peoples of Hawaiʻi, the Hawaiian language, and the history of Hawaiʻi. The collection serves the students and faculty of the University of Hawaiʻi, including those participating in University of Hawaiʻi distance education programs, and a growing number of local, national and international users who are researching Hawaiʻi.

The collection supports teaching and research on Hawaiʻi at all levels. Numerous campus departments offer courses on Hawaiʻi. The Center for Hawaiian Studies in the School of Hawaiian, Asian, and Pacific Studies offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in Hawaiian studies. The Department of Hawaiian and Indo-Pacific Languages and Literatures in the College of Languages, Linguistics and Literature offers a Bachelor of Arts in Hawaiian language. Masters and doctoral degrees may be earned in the discipline departments. Collection Development Policy, Hawaiian Collection Page 2 of 6 Both the Center for Hawaiian Studies and the Department of Hawaiian and Indo-Pacific Languages and Literatures are planning masters programs in Hawaiian studies and Hawaiian language, respectively. A growing number of Hawaiian Studies students obtain Master's degrees through the Center for Pacific Islands Studies. At present, in the Center for Hawaiian Studies there are eight faculty members and approximately 84 Hawaiian studies majors. In the Hawaiian language department there are 34 Hawaiian language majors, 20 instructors, 4 native speaker resource persons, and an enrollment in excess of 800 per semester. During fall semester 2000 approximately 45 academic courses on Hawaiʻi were offered on the Mānoa campus in numerous departments.