THE KALAUPAPA MEMORIAL
The Kalaupapa Names Project
Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa historian Anwei Law (right) shows ‘Ohana President Boogie Kahilihiwa and Law’s daughter, Lian, the list of names of people sent to Kalaupapa that were digitally compiled.
Photo: Valerie Monson
In preparation for the Kalaupapa Memorial, Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa began compiling the names of the people who were forcibly relocated to Kalaupapa. Such a list has never been completed. By the time Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa has finished compiling the names of everyone sent to Kalaupapa, we will have the entire list for the first time – and we will know the names of all the people whose lives were torn apart by being forced to leave their families for an uncertain future at Kalaupapa.
This project will be a significant document for the descendants of Kalaupapa and the history of Hawai`i.
In the spring of 2007, at the behest of ‘Ohana leader Bernard K. Punikai‘a, the names of the first 5,000 individuals who arrived at Kalaupapa between 1866 and 1896 were transcribed by Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa from records held in trust by the Hawai`i State Archives.
This work was led by ‘Ohana historian and acclaimed Kalaupapa author Anwei Skinsnes Law who first began visiting Kalaupapa in 1968 -- and has been studying the history and interviewing the people ever since. Part of her academic research in the 1980s involved working with the various registers of Kalaupapa.
As she compiled the names from the handwritten records kept in the registers, Anwei also noted the individual’s gender, age upon admittance, date of admittance, hometown and home island and, if listed, date of death. Throughout the process, Hawaiian language specialists were consulted to review the list.
Pi`olani Motta and Ka‘iulani Hess, who both had family at Kalaupapa, look through The Kalaupapa Admissions Register at the Hawai‘i State Archives in Honolulu. This register contains the names of the first 5,000 people sent to Kalaupapa.
Photo: Patrick Downes, Hawai‘i Catholic Herald
Once Anwei had completed digitizing the first 5,000 names, special presentations about the Kalaupapa Names Project were held for Kalaupapa residents, officials and others interested in the Kalaupapa Memorial.
A news article about Anwei’s work on the names appeared soon after in The Hawai`I Catholic Herald. Within a few weeks, letters poured into Ka ‘Ohana’s mailbox at Kalaupapa from family members asking if their relatives were among those names recorded.
This was the unexpected beginning of Ka ‘Ohana’s program, “The Restoration of Family Ties” where families are urged to contact Ka ‘Ohana to see if we have information about their ‘ohana.
Anwei’s work has grown from a list of names to an expansive digital library of information about the people of Kalaupapa, including Admissions Registers, death records, marriage records, birth records, US Census records, Church records, Hawaiian language newspaper articles, letters translated from ‘Olelo Hawai‘i into English and more.
Meanwhile, the families keep reaching out to Ka ‘Ohana in search of their Kalaupapa kupuna. As of mid-2019, Ka ‘Ohana has helped more than 800 descendants learn about the lives of their ancestors when they were at Kalaupapa.
“The Restoration of Family Ties” has been presented with a “Preservation Media Award” by Historic Hawai‘i Foundation.
If you think you had an ancestor at Kalaupapa, please contact Executive Director Valerie Monson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 808-573-2746.