About the Plantation Archives
Use and Access
- Formation of the Plantation Archives
- Users of the Plantation Archives
- Scope and Contents
- For Further Information
and Finding Aids
The HSPA Plantation Archives was
created under the aegis of the Hawaiian Sugar Planters' Association, now
known as the Hawaii Agriculture Research Center. It was donated to the
University of Hawaii at Manoa Library in 1995.
FORMATION OF THE PLANTATION ARCHIVES
Since the first successful commercial plantation was established on Kauai
in 1835, the sugar industry has been a significant part of the Hawaiian
economy and a great influence on the course of Hawaii's history. As the
industry evolved, over 80 sugar companies have come and gone. Plantations
and mills closed or merged, sometimes placing their old business records
at risk for want of resources and a safe place to preserve them. Through
the long efforts of historians and other individuals and groups in the
community, a safe place was finally found.
With a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Hawaiian
Historical Society was able to conduct a state-wide survey of sugar records,
completed in 1979. In 1981, the Board of Directors of the Hawaiian Sugar
Planters' Association (HSPA) approved creation of the Plantation Archives
to provide a repository for the records of plantations that elected to
donate them. A drop in the price of sugar stalled implementation until
1983, when a historian from HSPA visited each participating plantation.
Records were located in all manner of places: attics, vaults, bunkers,
under houses, in spare rooms and in closets. Some were still in very good
condition; others were damp, moldy and insect infested. All were listed,
packed and shipped to HSPA in Aiea, where they were temporarily stored
in two Matson containers.
In 1984, an archivist was hired to begin processing them. Each record
group was fumigated and cleaned. Bound volumes were tagged and papers
were arranged in acid-free folders and boxes. Information about their
contents was entered in the Register and into a computerized database.
The first records processed were from Oahu Sugar Company. The latest records
added, for Apokaa Sugar Company and Ewa Plantation Company, were processed
In 1993, the Plantation Archives was given important supplementary material,
the engineering drawings of Honolulu Iron Works, the key manufacturer
that supplied the sugar mills with uniquely designed or modified equipment
for many years.
As the sugar industry contracts, the resources it provides for research
and related activities have decreased. This resulted in insufficient resources
for HSPA to continue providing the level of accessibility to the Plantation
Archives that was originally intended. By donating the materials to the
University this intent could be maintained. In October, 1995, the HSPA
Board voted to donate the Plantation Archives to the University of Hawaii
at Manoa where it is now managed by the UHM Library's Special Collections
Department and greatly enhances the Library's other sugar-related resources.
USERS OF THE PLANTATION ARCHIVES
The Plantation Archives attracts the interest of many people. Students
and researchers from Hawaii, the United States and around the world have
used the Plantation Archives for all level of research inquiry, including
History Day projects, popular works, and theses, dissertations and other
Not every question can be answered. Every plantation kept its records
in its own way, with differing degrees of detail. Sometimes only a few
examples of certain types of materials have been preserved. Some records
have not survived at all. Some companies elected not to contribute to
the Plantation Archives. Nevertheless, the Plantation Archives provides
primary source documents covering a detailed cross section of Hawaiian
economic, social and agricultural history and offers unique research possibilities.
SCOPE AND CONTENTS OF THE PLANTATION ARCHIVES
The Plantation Archives holds business records from numerous sugar companies.
The smallest collection, Apokaa Sugar, occupies one cubic foot; the largest,
Puna Sugar, requires 287 cubic feet. Generally the record groups contain
similar series of records, though they are not all present or complete
for each company or time period.
CORPORATE RECORDS. Minutes of directors' and stockholders' meetings, annual
reports, land records, stocks and bonds, charters, audits.
CORRESPONDENCE. General correspondence, agency correspondence, HSPA correspondence,
manager's correspondence, miscellaneous correspondence.
CULTIVATION CONTRACTS. With individual immigrant laborers, labor gangs,
FINANCIAL RECORDS. Cash books, journals, ledgers, agents' accounts, planters'
accounts, monthly statements.
PERSONNEL & PAYROLL RECORDS. Payroll records, accident reports, bonus
records, personnel records, turn out records.
PRODUCTION RECORDS. Mill production, field records, sugar and molasses
MISCELLANEOUS RECORDS. Maps, blueprints, posters, insurance records, inventories.
OTHER COMPANY RECORDS. Predecessor companies, plantation stores, hospitals,
electric companies, ice companies, water and irrigation companies, planters'
UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII AT MANOA LIBRARY
The University of Hawaii at Manoa Library is a prominent research library
with particular strength in its Hawaiian, Pacific Islands and Asian holdings.
It is committed to being an institution of value to the University community,
to the people of the State of Hawaii and the Pacific region.
It is the special purpose of university research libraries to collect,
preserve, and share with present and future generations the written, audio
and visual records of our thoughts, perceptions, creative expressions,
and experience. Within this purpose, the UHM Library's collections are
uniquely shaped by the University's programs of instruction and research
especially influenced by the complex history, the rich and diverse
ethnic heritages of the people, and the tropical environment of our island
The Library welcomes financial contributions in support of its collection
building program. Donations of books, private papers, recordings and other
materials that fit within its guidelines for collection development are
deeply appreciated. Especially welcome are further donations that would
enhance its existing resources relating to the place and history of sugar
in agriculture, in plantation life, in industry and business. For further
information, please contact Special Collections, University of Hawaii
at Manoa Library, 2550 McCarthy Mall, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org;
Telephone (808) 956-8264; Fax (808) 956-5968.
The University of Hawaii at Manoa is an equal opportunity/affirmative
Text prepared by UHM Library staff, with contributions from the staff
of the Hawaii Agriculture Research Center. HSPA logo used with permission
of the Hawaii Agriculture Research Center.
Hawaii Agriculture Research Center
University of Hawaii
University of Hawaii
at Manoa Library
UHM Library Special Collections
October 1996, updated August 2004