New Digitization of Ka Hoku o Hawaii Microfilms: 1906–1917

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By Kale Hannahs, OHA Archival Information Specialist

Over the last 10 years, the Papakilo Database has formed many partnerships with various community archive organizations, including the Bishop Museum, in an effort to increase access to various historic collections. The following is from a Bishop Museum blog sharing the value of the Hawaiian Language Newspapers and their re-digitization efforts.

Through digital access on Papakilo Database, information found in nūpepa (Hawaiian language newspapers) has been utilized to enhance, supplement and, in some cases, rewrite histories, scientific findings, cultural practices, and our overall understanding of ʻike Hawaiʻi.

Thanks to the dedication of resource specialists and the Hawaiian community, this knowledge has been interpreted and disseminated widely. There is still much more to explore and understand and, as recent activity at Bishop Museum Library & Archives reminds us, there are still more nūpepa to uncover and share.

During the process of cataloging Bishop Museum’s collection of Hawaiian language newspapers for He Aupuni Palapala: Preserving and Digitizing the Hawaiian Language Newspapers, their project team discovered that the first decade of issues (1906–1917) of the Hilo newspaper Ka Hoku o Hawaii were not yet online!

Microfilm of Ka Hoku o Hawaii, July 2, 1908
Excerpt from “Ke Kumu i Loaa ai o ka Inoa Kualapa” Ka Hoku o Hawaii, July 2, 1908, page 3.

While still in the process of designing an efficient and safe method to digitize fragile original nūpepa, they quickly resolved this using microfilm copy. Newly acquired ScanPro3000 equipment enabled Bishop Museum staff to complete the microfilm scanning of Ka Hoku o Hawaii, and they are now working with Papakilo Database to run the images through Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software for better text searchability. Soon 1,990 pages of previously unavailable nūpepa will be added to Papakilo Database making accessible articles like:

  • The biography of David Waiau written at his death by his wife Kahoopai Waiau. She informs us that he was born in Nāʻālehu, Kaʻū on June 16, 1854, making him 53 years old, 10 months, 4 days, and 4½ hours at his death. He was born of the loins of Kalaualoha (w) and Keanu (k).
  • A story about Pele and her sister Hiʻiakaikapoliopele submitted by William Hyde Rice of Kauaʻi ran from May 21, 1908, to September 10, 1908. It commences with the description of the mating of Haumea with Moemoeʻaʻauliʻi and the births starting with Kamohoaliʻi from the fontanel, all the way to Hiʻiakaikapoliopele from the palms of the hand in the form similar to a chicken egg.
  • An explanation for why Kualapa, Maui, was given its name. The article begins with a man unsure of which akua he was to call out to in order for his desires to be fulfilled, that desire being a desire for fish.

Interested in following the progress of the He Aupuni Palapala project at Bishop Museum? New blog posts are added every Monday at blog.bishopmuseum.org/nupepa.

To learn more about the digital resources provided by Bishop Museum, register for the upcoming Papakilo Webinar Series by logging on to www.oha.org/papakilowebinar.

He Aupuni Palapala: Preserving and Digitizing the Hawaiian Language Newspapers is a collaborative project launched earlier this year by Bishop Museum and Awaiaulu, with contributions from Kamehameha Schools and support from the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority. The aim of the project is to put the best images of historic Hawaiian language newspapers online for free access, by creating new digital images from the original newspapers.