© 2023 Hawaiʻi Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Oʻahu’s oldest Christian church has begun digitizing over 200 years of documents

Daniel Ramirez
CC BY 2.0 / Flickr

Oʻahu’s oldest Christian church has begun to digitize more than 200 years of church documents. Those include church administration records as well as documentation of baptisms, marriages, and funerals.

Kawaiahaʻo Church in Honolulu received a $98,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to digitize these records and make them available to the public online.

Kawaiahaʻo was established in 1820 and soon became the primary place of worship for Hawaiian royalty. But many of the church’s records remained in filing cabinets in the basement.

Kenneth Makuakane, the senior pastor at Kawaiahaʻo, says the church often receives requests from individuals hoping to scour the archives to aid in their family’s genealogy research.

"So the idea is to digitize them with metatags so that when people come into the site, all they have to do is just go through the search engine and put whatever kupuna name they want, and all of these documents will be immediately made available to them — and it would have documents such as baptisms, marriages, births," Makuakane said.

"There’s also meetings by the congregation, by the board, and so that you can see how people lived, how they commune together, what they thought about how they wanted to affect the community outside of them," Makuakane told Hawaiʻi Public Radio.

Makuakane says they’ve begun digitizing the oldest records from 1820 to 1830. They’ve also hired an archivist to survey the entire collection and create a library system for the online archive.

Kuʻuwehi Hiraishi is a general assignment reporter at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Her commitment to her Native Hawaiian community and her fluency in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi has led her to build a de facto ʻōiwi beat at the news station. Send your story ideas to her at khiraishi@hawaiipublicradio.org.
Related Stories