New online archive spans 177 years of isle newspapers
Thanks to a new partnership between the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and Newspapers.com, readers can now access a fully searchable online archive of the Hawaii newspapers.
Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser!
You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription.
Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story.
The playwright Arthur Miller famously defined a good newspaper as “a nation talking to itself.”
Thanks to a new partnership between the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and Newspapers.com, readers can now access a fully searchable online archive of the Hawaii newspapers The Polynesian, The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, The Daily Bulletin, The Hawaiian Star, The Evening Bulletin, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, The Honolulu Advertiser and the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Spanning some 177 years — from the first edition of The Polynesian on June 6, 1840, to recent editions of the Star-Advertiser — the digital archive expands on the truth of Miller’s definition, presenting an independent nation, a territory and ultimately a state in ongoing conversation with itself.
The database, which is searchable by name, date or subject, is accessible through the new “Archives” section available .
The digitized pages highlight search-term matches and individual articles or sections that can be highlighted and “clipped” for saving, printing, emailing, sharing on social media, or posting on the genealogy site Ancestry.com.
HERE’S HOW IT WORKS
>> Honolulu Star-Advertiser subscribers who have activated their staradvertiser.com accounts can search archives going back two years for free (pages are not available in the archive until 30 days after publication).
>> To access digitized Hawaii newspapers from farther back — all the way to 1840 — subscriptions to staradvertiser.newspapers.com are available for $7.95 a month or $29.95 for six months.
>> Also, subscriptions to newspapers.com, available for $19.90 a month or $74.90 semianually, allow users to search more than 5,550 newspapers from around the world dating back to the 1700s.
The Hawaii newspapers now available in the archive comprise something of a genealogy themselves.
The Polynesian once served as the official voice of the Hawaiian kingdom and was published out of the government printing office, which for a time was helmed by postmaster Henry Whitney.
Whitney would go on to found the Pacific Commercial Advertiser, forebear of the Honolulu Advertiser. After selling the newspaper to James Black and William Ault, Whitney opened a bookstore and began publishing the hand-printed Daily Marine Bulletin, which featured shipping news, mail dispatches and local gossip.
James Robinson later bought the rights to the single-sheet bulletin, which he developed into The Daily Bulletin, Hawaii’s first daily newspaper. The paper changed hands and names several times before finally merging with the rival daily The Hawaiian Star in 1912 to form the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
For most of the next century, the Star-Bulletin and the Advertiser would serve as the primary chroniclers of Hawaii’s modern history. In 2010, the two papers merged to form the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
The depth and breadth of material available through the archive is a boon to teachers and students, history buffs, and everyday investigators of personal and family history. In addition to comprehensive coverage of major historical events like the annexation of Hawaii, the attack on Pearl Harbor and statehood, the archive provides access to in-depth daily reporting on local politics, the economy, crime, sports and other standard newspaper fare. For students of popular culture, the digitized pages are also full of the ephemeral entertainment of the last nine generations, from pole-sitting to pet rocks to “Pokemon Go.”
The easy availability of these newspapers comes as particularly welcome news to researchers in various disciplines.
“Part of the difficulty of doing research with 19th-century and early 20th-century newspapers is that you have to sit in those microfiche labs at Hamilton Library or some other archive to access the material,” said University of Hawaii religion professor and author Marie Alohalani Brown. “Online newspaper archives free up a lot of time and allow for more, quicker and better research.”
Brown spent three work-intensive years, including hundreds of hours combing through physical archives, researching her book “Facing the Spears of Change: The Life and Legacy of John Papa Ii,” which won the 2017 Ka Palapala Pookela award of excellence in Hawaiian language, culture and history. She anticipates that the new Star-Advertiser electronic archive will mean a faster, more efficient process of information gathering for herself and other researchers.
“The more online resources there are, the more that can be done,” Brown said. “This will also open up other areas of research.”
The archive offers readers the ability to add historical context to the most significant events of their lives. Ever wonder what was the front-page news on the day you were born? Want to show your children what life was like when you were a child?
It also allows users to rediscover long-lost clippings — marriage or birth announcements, a loved one’s obituary, a glowing review of the family restaurant, perhaps a photo of that game-winning touchdown back in high school.