University of Hawaii at Manoa Library

Nikkei Legacy Project

Romanzo Adams Social Research Laboratory (RASRL)


The arrival of Dr. Romanzo Adams in 1920 marked the beginning of the academic study of sociology in Hawai'i. Dr. Adams encouraged his students to consider Hawai'i as a laboratory, a location in which to observe and learn; the research covered over forty years of social history in Hawai'i and the primary focus of the research program of RASRL has always been race relations. Since race relations is a factor in all facets of society, the RASRL research program has addressed many related topics: population, cultural conflict, the impact of the war on territorial Hawai'i society, industrial relations, the changing family, and social disorganization. The records of RASRL cover the years 1922 through 1966.

About the RASRL

RASRL grew out of the research conducted by students and faculty of the Department of Sociology at the University of Hawai'i. The laboratory was known as Social Research Laboratory in the 1930s. Students wrote about the experiences of people around them, their communities, and their families. After Dr. Adams retired in 1934, Dr. Andrew Lind took over the direction of the Laboratory of the sociology program at the University.

During World War II the University Board of Regents formalized the conversion of the laboratory to the War Research Laboratory. During this period of time, the Laboratory was involved with the military government in Hawai'i on several issues such as morale, race relations, labor, etc. After the War the focus of the lab shifted back from the war-related research, and the lab was renamed the Hawai'i Social Research Laboratory.

In 1955, the organization was named the Romanzo Adams Social Research Laboratory in memorial to him. Dr. Lind retired in December 1967. In the meantime, the Romanzo Adams Social Research Laboratory was overshadowed by the organization of an interdisciplinary institute at the University, the Social Science Research Institute, organized in 1960.

Scope and Content

The Romanzo Adams Social Research Laboratory Records came to the Archives in two accessions, in 1979 and 1989. Each accession included several series. The materials range in date from the mid-1920s to the late 1960s when RASRL was disorganized.

The series in the 1979 accession are:
  • General Files
  • The records from War Research Laboratory which RASRL became during World War II
  • Clipping Files
  • Student Papers
  • Frances Harr Photographs
  • Romanzo Adams Papers
  • Maps
  • Resource Files

The 1989 accession includes materials merged into the previous series plus unique series:
  • Confidential Research Files
  • War Brides Interview Project, 1953-1957
  • Andrew Lind Papers

Finding Aids for Nekkei Studies

The primary focus of the research program of RASRL has always been race relations. In the unique geographic and cultural landscape of Hawai'i, Japanese Americans experiences were significantly evident in the research of RASRL in the relations to population, cultural conflict, the impact of war on territorial Hawai'i society, industrial relations, the changing family, and social organization. Those topics and materials related to Nikkei experiences can be found mainly from RASRL's four subseries: 1. Student Papers, c 1928-1955, 2. Confidential Research Files, 1942-1957, 3. War Brides Interview Project, 1953-1956, 4. Clipping Files.

Student Papers: Student Papers written for several sociology classes documenting various aspects of life in Hawai'i over the decades, covering race and ethnic relations, inter-generational relations, cultural /social organizations and other sociological topics. The first subseries was arranged alphabetically by the surname of the student writer. It covers approximately three decades, beginning in the mid 1920s and extending into the mid 1950s. Later subseries were grouped by topic, by semester, by ethnicity of writer, and/or by format. Use your browser's search tools to find all occurrences of a name within the finding aid.

Confidential Research Files, 1942-1957 The Confidential Research Files came to the University Archives within an accession received in 1989 from Mrs. Andrew Lind. It covers the years 1932 to 1959 with the bulk of the records falling in the range 1940-1950. This collection is particularly rich in materials that reflect the rapid social and societal changes of the 1940's and post-War period.

It includes term papers, excerpts from journals and diaries, interviews, and summaries of discussions with individuals, as well as newspaper clippings and documentation on political, industrial, and community groups. The distinction from another series of RASRL files appears to be that field workers preserved the anonymity of sources contributing to the Confidential Research Files.

The major component of the Confidential Research Files covers the period 1941-1959 and this series are maintained alphabetically by subject. For example, for Nikkei studies, the section on AJAs (Americans of Japanese Ancestry) including letters and transcripted conversations of members of the U.S. Army 442nd Battalion and other AJAs about their experiences during the War would be very useful materials.

War Brides Interview Project, 1953-1956 This project includes interviews by RASRL staff of war brides living in Hawai'i. The subjects were, primarily, brides who married husbands met during World War II. Most, if not all, the couples consist of one spouse from the Allied and one spouse from the Axis countries. The project has been broken down into groups according the ethnicity of the woman and her husband.

Clipping Files The Clipping files of the RASRL are merely one aspect of a vital sociology program at the University of Hawai'i. The research Dr. Adams and his students collected included clippings from the Honolulu newspapers on numerous aspects of life in the Territory, reports and statistical information. Paper finding aid is available in Archive Reading Room.

These clippings were stored in the Archives fill four four-drawer file cabinets, approximately forty-eight linear feet. They occur in four sequences, here called series, of widely varying size. The earliest series contains one folder dating from 1924, but the bulk of the clippings in the series begin in 1927. It focuses primarily on the general aspects of Hawai'i with extensive attention on economic concerns. It extends to the beginning of the War. Series two focuses heavily on ethnic groups in Hawai'i and covers essentially the same years as series one, 1925-1945. The shortest series concerns a group of sensational criminal cases which disturbed the Islands during the late 1920s and 1930s plus some files on the resultant use of censorship and on citizen morale. This series covers 1928-1945.

The fourth series takes up more than series 1-3 combined, in addition to the bulk of its clippings, has two subseries. This series combines the ethnic focus on the second series, the economic focus of the first series and a wide breadth approach attempting to analyze all aspects of life in Hawai'i. While some of files have little material, others extend to numerous folders. The two subseries consist of files of clippings printed in Japanese characters: one subseries has translations - or at least summaries - of the clippings in English; the other subseries is untranslated. The subseries uses the same folder designations as the main section of series four. Some files in series four begin as early as 1945 though most being later in the 1940s or in the early 1950s. With a few exceptions primarily in the Japanese language clippings, the files end during the 1950s; these few extend to 1962. Finally a fifth series has been located and almost totally inventoried. The fifth series follows similar organization, depth and breadth as the fourth series.

The series 2 and 4 would be useful for the Nikkei study.

Series 2: Japanese: history in Hawai'i, Language Schools, Loyalty to U.S., Japanese-Migration, Nationalism, Japanese-New Americans, Japanese-newspaper, Okinawans, Japanese-Organizations, 2nd generation, Politics, Recreation, Philanthropy, Professions.

Series 4: WWII, Internment, Citizenship, Japanese Attitudes, Attitudes of non-Japanese Toward Japanese, Japanese Cultural Practices, Education, Nisei in Japan.

Restrictions on Access

Advanced appointment necessary. Please contact University Archivist

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