The Family Atlas: Hawaii

The Family Atlas
a monthly column by Jen Baldwin


Maui, Hawaii, Ocean, Pacific Ocean

Hawaii. Immediately images of ocean waves, fragrant blossoms, lush rainforest and 750 miles of gorgeous beaches come to mind. Vacationer’s paradise. The history of the Hawaiian Islands could easily be called one of the most interesting of all the states, and we will spend some time there this month, as we turn the page once again in the Family Atlas.

According to Wikipedia, a large portion of the current population of Hawaii has Asian ancestry, with Filipino and Japanese topping the list at 13.6% and 12.6%.  Although that may be true today, the native Hawaiian people certainly hold the islands and their unique history tightly. One example of the passion put into preserving their heritage can be found through the Native Hawaiian Genealogical Society. With a variety of resources on their site, you can find pre-annexation census information, a surname research index, or work with them to transcribe and index The Hui Aloha 'Āina Anti-Annexation Petitions of 1897-1898. Their site also includes a small list of Hawaii History resources, those that “best represent the story of Hawai`I and it’s people.” (Mo’olelo (History)), Native Hawaiian Genealogy Society.

Looking for an ancestor with a bad reputation? Try the Hawaii Blacksheep Ancestors site. With links to a handful of resources, the one that catches attention is Executions in Hawaii 1856-1944. Although the link leads you to a page on the Wayback Machine, it still gets you the results, and the list includes 49 names, with dates, locations and the crime.

7 December 1941. The attack on Pearl Harbor. In the minds of most American’s this is a day not to be forgotten. Ever. There are numerous online resources focused on this event in our history, so only two will be presented here: Pacific Historic Parks, a non-profit association cooperating with the National Park Service to support and fund four National Park sites in the Pacific, and Battleship USS West Virginia, which includes a full list of casualties from that fateful day, a battle report, and more specific information on the effects of the Japanese movement against the United States.

Immigration searches should start with the Case Files for Early Immigrants to San Francisco and Hawaii, a collaboration between the National Archives and Records Administration and the Institute of Business and Economic Research at UC Berkeley.  The searchable index for records between 1882 and 1955, will give you access to the NARA case number, which can then lead you to the actual record (held at the NARA San Bruno, California location). Carry that through to land and property records using the Waihona `Aina website, which includes four sections: Mahele database, Boundary Commission database, Royal Patent database and a Land Grants database.

The culture of Hawaii deserves your research hours, also, and you can learn a great deal through the Hawaii Alive site, the Bernice Pauahi Biship Museum (they also have an online searchable database), and the Mission Houses Museum, which highlights missionary and other families that came from either the American mainland or Europe.

There is a significant celebration in Hawaii this month. The Hawaiian Kingdom’s last monarch, Queen Liluokalani, was born 2 September 1838, and each year, the date is recognized across the state.  Specialized church services, a Lei Draping Ceremony over her statue, festivals and canoe races all mark this important day.  You can find more information on the many events from just about every source, but start with

Be sure to read through the Honolulu County Genealogical Society Blog, written by members. The site features a variety of organization photographs, reviews on current speakers and events, and several lists of links focusing on several topics.  Our choice for this month’s personal blog?  Hawaiian Roots; Genealogy for Hawaiians by Christine Hitt, who seeks to fill the online gap for Hawaiian genealogy research. She writes on a range of topics, including history, culture, and current events. Her latest posts included a three part series, Hanai Relationships, a case study focusing on adopted relatives.  The Hawaiian Roots project is a non-profit organization, seeking to assist others in their island ancestry. You can also find them on Facebook.

One last, but important mention, for anyone researching on the islands: the Hawaiian language. On her blog, Nutfield Genealogy, Heather Rojo provides a list of Hawaiian Genealogy Words, which provides one of the handiest tools for working your way through the records. Mrs. Rojo has extensively researched her connection to the islands, and her blog is another great read. If you are looking specifically for links back to the state, utilize her keyword “Hawaii” for all the posts that are related.


© Jen Bladwin 2012

This article originally appeared in the September 2012 issue of The In-Depth Genealogist. Receive The In-Depth Genealogist  by subscribing HERE.