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American Folklife Center Collections: Hawai`i

This guide provides access to ethnographic resources documenting expressive culture in the state of Hawai`i at the Library of Congress.


American Folklife Center collections from Hawai`i document the diversity of its expressive culture. Collections include recordings of Native Hawaiian music collected on wax cylinders by Kenneth Emory and Helen Roberts; commercial recordings of the Royal Hawaiian Troubadours; a series of radio broadcasts on Hawaiian music by KCCN; recordings of cowboys (na paniolo) and immigrant ethnic cultural groups; and recordings and photographs from a collecting trip to the Pacific by folklorist Bess Lomax Hawes.

Unukupukupu is the traditional Halau Hula (Hula School) of Hawai`i Community College, Hilo, Hawai`i. Here ancient dances and songs, rooted in the sacred `Aiha`a Pele (Ritual Dance of Volcanic Phenomena) intermingle with the rigor of academic inquiry.

A note on searching: The spelling of Hawai`i was written without the glottal stop when "Hawaii" became the 50th state in 1959. The `okina, the consonant that represents the glottal stop, was not used. This changed the pronunciation as well, as non-Hawaiian speakers were not familiar with the way that Hawaiians say the name. There is a current effort to restore Hawai`i's accurate name and pronunciation. The spelling with `okina is increasingly used in the state. It is the spelling used in many publications about Hawai`i as well. It is not yet the official name for the state as used by the federal government. Variations in the state's name have consequences for search engines. Since historic documents will retain the spelling "Hawaii" even if the official name is eventually changed, these differences will persist in Library of Congress collections. Searches on "Hawai`i" or "Hawaii" may call up items with both spellings, but results will vary and results may be prioritized differently. Experimenting with both spellings may be useful.

Collections of Interest

The following materials link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to digital content are provided when available.

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Ledward "Led" Kaapana is a master of the two leading string instruments in Hawai`i: the Hawaiian ukulele and ki ho`alu, the slack key guitar, a fingerstyle guitar art form that originated in Hawai`i. This talent, combined with his vocal skills in the baritone and leo ki`eki`e (falsetto) range, have made him a legendary performer who has been entertaining audiences in Hawai`i and abroad for more than 40 years.  He was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2011.

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