Jack Kormos, University Of Hawaii At Manoa 2014-12-02 11:14:18
The Territory of Hawaii experienced World War II more profoundly than any state in the United States, largely because the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. As a result of the bombing, martial law was enforced for the next three years, dramatically affecting life on the islands and Hawaii’s citizens, many of whom were of Japanese descent and living under extreme scrutiny for being possible traitors and sympathetic to the Japanese cause. The War Records Committee On March 27, 1943, an editorial in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin urged that immediate provision be made to write a history of this special role that Hawaii was playing in the war.1 Gregg Sinclair, then president of the University of Hawaii, sympathized with this editorial,2 as well as other similar discussions that were taking place in the community at that time, and on April 9, 1943, he convened the Committee on Collection of War Documents (later War Records Committee), for the purpose of documenting Hawaii’s record in the war. One of the committee’s members, Professor Ralph S. Kuykendall— who is still considered to be one of the preeminent scholars of Hawaiiana—noted that his work on the history of Hawaii’s part in World War I was greatly handicapped by a four-year delay in the collection of research materials that he needed to write it.3 He suggested that if the university were going to undertake a history of Hawaii in World War II, it would be highly desirable for the territorial legislature to give the regents of the university official responsibility and authority to collect materials necessary to write the history.4 President Sinclair took Kuykendall’s advice, and presented the idea To members of the legislature, which, in “record time,” passed Joint Resolution 6.5 The resolution provided for “the collecting and preservation of material relating to Hawaii’s part in the present war between the United States and Germany, Japan, and Italy, and designating the University of Hawaii as the depository for such material.”6 The legislature appropriated $10,000 for the project. Building the Depository At the second meeting of the War Records Committee on May 25, 1943, an executive committee was established that would direct the work of collecting documents, with Kuykendall as chair. The project was named the “Hawaii War Records Depository,” which would be housed in the University library (there was not an archives on campus at that time).7 A part-time archivist was also hired. Unfortunately, the project got off to a lessthan- desirable start. Although the archivist worked to build ties in the community and devised a classification scheme by which to organize and catalog the materials, she resigned after only eight months due to health concerns. The newspapers expressed concern, claiming that without replacing the archivist as soon as possible, the project Would not be able to “catch up on the fast-receding past and keep abreast of the current tremendous flow of events and their documentary evidence.”8 Reporters also pointed out that the project began a year and a half after the war started, and that the $10,000 appropriated by the legislature was insufficient to cover the costs of the project. Fortunately, this concern was heard. Dual Senate and House holdover committees investigated the Hawaii War Records Depository and concluded that it was far too understaffed and established salaries were too low to attract qualified persons to take on the responsibilities of an archivist.9 The committees requested that an additional $9,105 Two mothers and their children practice safety measures to prepare for a gas attack. The two toddlers are wearing “bunny masks.” Courtesy of the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Be made available to the depository for the purpose of funding a staff of four permanent full-time employees (director, archivist, stenographer, and library assistant). Territorial Governor Stainback approved this request, and the depository finally had the resources it needed to carry out its charge. Collecting Materials Full-page ads ran in local papers soliciting “letters, diaries, photographs, poems, posters, pamphlets, published articles, radio scripts, etc.”10 Staff members were interviewed on radio programs, where they made pleas for materials. Postcards were sent in the mail, and placards were placed around town. Individuals and businesses were interviewed about the parts that they were playing in the war, and how their lives were being affected by it. And depository staff succeeded in convincing the U.S. Army to contribute to the collection, which it did by issuing an order to furnish the depository with orders, memoranda, reports, maps, and photographs that were considered to be of interest to the university.11 This effort produced very tangible results. In January 1947 the chairman of the executive Committee that provided oversight to the collection claimed that “in quantity of material and importance of subject matter, [the depository] surpasses similar collections being made in most of the states. This is no idle statement, but is based on my personal knowledge and travel in connection with such work on the mainland.”12 The depository received materials as varied as correspondence and reports from governmental agencies, church bulletins, and sugar company documentation, to radio program scripts, personal scrapbooks and diaries, and posters made by grade school students on subjects relating to the war. And if donors wanted to keep the materials themselves, the depository would microfilm them and return them when done. Leaving Memories The progress with the depository was successful enough that in May 1947 the territorial legislature approved an act to “provide for the preparation, publication and distribution of a history of Hawaii’s part in the Second World War, a memorial, and a series of monographs relating thereto, and making an appropriation therefor.”13 The First priority of the depository was to produce the memorial volume of all Hawaiians who had served and died in the war. Staff members collected the deceased’s names and distributed questionnaires to the next of kin, requesting photographs and biographical information about the deceased. The returned questionnaires and photographs remain in the collection and were ultimately compiled to create the volume In Freedom’s Cause,14 published in 1949. The history, for which the depository project was conceived in the first place, was written and published under the title Hawaii’s War Years: 1941–1945.15 Once the collecting had been done and the monographs written, funding was no longer provided for the project, and the Hawaii War Records Depository ultimately disbanded. But the collection remains intact, and in fact the original joint resolution of 1943 that created the depository carried over into the Hawaii state statutes upon Hawaii’s joining the union,16 so that the University of Hawaii is still charged with collecting and preserving materials relating to Hawaii’s part in the Second World War. At approximately 250 cubic feet of material, the collection is one of the most heavily used archival collections at the University of Hawaii to this day. Notes 1 “Hawaii in World War II,” Honolulu Star-Bulletin (Honolulu, HI), March 27, 1943. 2 Committee on Collection of War Documents meeting notes, April 9, 1943 (Hawaii War Records Depository, administrative files, box 4 folder 6). 3 Memorandum from Kuykendall to Sinclair, regarding historical records of Hawaii’s part in World War II, April 10, 1943 (Hawaii War Records Depository, administrative files, box 4 folder 6). 4 Ibid. 5 Report of Hawaii War Records Committee, May 25, 1943 (Hawaii War Records Depository, administrative files, box 4 folder 6). 6 Joint Resolution 6, Laws of the Territory of Hawaii, passed by the 22nd Legislature, regular session, 1943. 7 Report of Hawaii War Records Committee, May 25, 1943 (Hawaii War Records Depository, administrative files, box 4 folder 6). 8 Riley H. Allen, “Getting Behind in History,” Honolulu Star-Bulletin (Honolulu, HI), April 11, 1944. 9 “Added Funds for Isle War Records Depository Asked,” Honolulu Star-Bulletin (Honolulu, HI), April 19, 1944. 10 For example, Honolulu Star-Bulletin (Honolulu, HI), September 30, 1944. 11 “Hawaii’s Part in the Present War,” staff memorandum no. 48, United States Army Forces, Central Pacific Area (copy is in Hawaii War Records Depository, administrative files, box 7 folder titled “History War Documents Folder”). 12 Draft of talk given by Dr. Thomas D. Murphy on radio stations for publicity, January 1947 (Hawaii War Records Depository, administrative files, box 7 folder 38). 13 Act 136, Laws of the Territory of Hawaii, passed by the 24th Legislature, regular session, 1947. 14 Lloyd L. Lee, In Freedom’s Cause (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1949). 15 Gwenfread E. Allen, Hawaii’s War Years: 1941–1945 (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1950). 16 “Depository of War Records,” Section 304A-115, Hawaii Revised Statutes.
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