The keeper of public memory
The Hawaii State Archives serves as the keeper of public memory to ensure that notable people and events are never forgotten. HI Now Guest Host Lacy Deniz is with State Archivist Dr. Adam Jansen to learn more about the treasures hidden inside
The Hawaii State Archives is a division under the department of accounting and general services. Within the division is the State Records Center, which stores inactive paper records of government, and the more commonly known Public Archives, which records of permanent value from both government and community are preserved in perpetuity in the Public Trust.
The mission of the Hawaii State Archives is to collect the Public Archives, to arrange, describe and make accessible to the Public these important records of the past.
“It is our duty and our honor to protect and preserve these records from outside influences, whether environmental or political,” Dr. Jansen says.
Dr. Jansen explains that there are over 14,000 boxes and over 1,000 artifacts preserved at the Archives. The largest part of the collection is governmental records, with the oldest dating back to 1790.
“We also have over 500 personal manuscript collections of individuals or organizations that have shaped Hawaii, its history and its people. With the addition of the Star-Advertiser/Bulletin collection, we estimate that there are over 600,000 photographs,” Dr. Jansen says.
There is nothing in the Public Archives that is not accessible to researchers – with a few exceptions required under law to protect privacy interests and medical related records. Additionally, some records are so important, or so fragile, that their loss would be felt at a societal level. Those records can be seen, but by appointment only, and Archives staff will do the handling.