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Duke Kahanamoku: Topics in Chronicling America

Hawaiian native Duke Kahanamoku was a champion swimmer, film actor, and popularized the sport of surfing. This guide provides access to material related to "Duke Kahanamoku" in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


"Win or Lose Kahanamoku Wears Smile." December 25, 1915. Iron County news (Hurley, WI), Image 6. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

Native Hawaiian Duke Kahanamoku (1890-1968) was Hawaii's first Olympian and first Olympic champion. He participated in the 1912, 1920, and 1924 Olympics and was a five-time Olympic medalist in swimming. With his accomplishments, Kahanamoku broke racial barriers in sports.

Afterwards, Kahanamoku became an actor and popularized the sport of surfing. He was a pioneer in surfing and often referred to as "the father of surfing." In 1935, Kahanamoku became Sheriff of Honolulu, a position where he was re-elected 13 times. Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.

July 10, 1912 At the Stockholm Olympics, Duke won a gold medal in the 100-meter freestyle.
December 24, 1914 He performed a surfing exhibition at Freshwater Beach in Australia, which is credited with introducing the sport to that nation.

August 29, 1920 At the Antwerp Olympics, he won a second gold medal in the 100-meter freestyle and breaks his own world record.
July 20, 1924 At the Paris Olympics, he placed second to Johnny Weissmuller in the 100-meter freestyle.
June 14, 1925 While working as a lifeguard in Newport Beach CA, he saved 8 people from a capsized boat using a surf board.
January 3, 1935 He was elected as the sheriff of Honolulu; he would be reelected 13 times.
February 24, 1944 He arrested Lloyd C. Duncan for assaulting two Marine sentries. The case ended up in the U.S. Supreme Court in 1946 as Duncan v. Kahanamoku.