University of Hawaii at Manoa Library

Nikkei Legacy Project



The Hawaiian Sugar Planters' Association Plantation Archives is a unique collection of records from plantations on the Hawaiian islands of Kaua'i, O'ahu, Maui and Hawai'i. It is a rich resource, providing detailed insight into plantation life and the sugar industry in Hawai'i, spanning the years 1850 to 1991.

Researchers in the fields of history, business, agriculture, sociology, literature and many others have used the HSPA Plantation Archives for a wide variety of projects.

About the Plantation Archives

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.

A state-wide survey of sugar records was completed in 1979, and in 1981, the Board of Directors of Hawaiian Sugar Planter's Association (HSPA), now known as the Hawai'i Agriculture Research Center (HARC), approved creation of the Plantation Archives. In 1995 the HSPA Board voted to donate the Plantation Archives to the University of Hawaii where they are now managed by the Library's Hawaiian Collection.

Scope and Content

The Archives holds business records from some sugar companies including: Hamakua Sugar Company, Hilo Coast Processing Company, Honokaa Sugar Company, Kau Sugar Company, Kekaha Sugar Company, Lihue Plantation Company, Mauna Kea Sugar Company, McBryde Sugar Company, Oahu Sugar Company, Pioneer Mill Company, and Puna Sugar Company. The smallest collection, Apokaa Sugar, occupies one cubic foot; the largest, Puna Sugar, comprises 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, managers' correspondence, miscellaneous correspondence.
Cultivation Contracts: With individual immigrant laborers, labor gangs, independent planters.
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 shipping records.
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' associations.

Finding Aids for Nekkei Studies

Hawaiian sugar plantations are recognized as a major business industry, and also an indicator of the evolving social, cultural, and racial situation in Hawai'i. The Japanese labor force suited the planters' needs, and the Japanese eventually became a major ethnic group in the islands. This collection, therefore, can contribute toward not only a study of Hawai'i's economic and labor history, but also to the study of its social and cultural history, and that of the community in which significant Nikkei experiences could be discovered.

Materials in the Plantation Archives are organized by sugar company. Each sugar company has its own register and finding aid. The register contains a history of the company or companies involved, a scope and contents note describing the strengths and weaknesses of that group, and a general outline summarizing the records in each series. The finding aid provides a more detailed listing of the contents of the sugar company's archive. This detailed listing provides information at the folder or volume level. See Plantations and Finding Aids for a list of the sugar companies covered in the Plantation Archive, and for access to each sugar company's register and finding aid.

A keyword (URL) index searchable on the web is also available, and supplements each company's finding aid. For example, the keyword "Japanese" takes you to some specific materials that might be pertinent to Nikkei studies.

A paper copy of the Plantation Archives registers and finding aids is available in the Special Collections reading room. These paper finding aids also provide brief summaries of the content of the records series that are useful in locating specific topics and materials related to Nikkei experience.

Use and Access

The HSPA Plantation Archives is available for use by UHM students, faculty and staff, and the general public. Access to the Plantation Archives is by appointment only. For planning purposes, note that the Plantation Archives is available for use in the reading room of the UHM Library's Special Collections, generally within the hours of 10:00 am to 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday. Before submitting requests, see Use and Access for HSPA Plantation Archives. Also, be sure to check the Hawaiian/Pacific Collections web pages for exceptions to these hours, and to check the UHM Library's web pages for building hours during holidays and interim periods.

University of Hawai'i at Mänoa Library
Hawaiian Collection / Special Collections
2550 McCarthy Mall
Honolulu, HI 96822

Telephone: (808) 956-8264
Fax: (808) 965-5968

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