Library digitizes Hawaii’s first “Facebook”
The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Library added the Pacific Commercial Advertiser to the open-access archive of 19th and early 20th century English language newspapers published in Hawaiʻi. The addition offers the public a glimpse into the lives of Hawaiʻi residents more than a century ago.
The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, first published in 1856, began as a bilingual weekly with a Hawaiian section, Ka Hoku Loa O Hawaiʻi (The Morning Star of Hawaiʻi), that ran for five years. The Pacific Commercial Advertiser became a daily in 1882, and eventually merged with the Honolulu Advertiser in 1921.
Of particular interest is the Pacific Commercial Advertiser’s “Local Brevities” column. From 1884, it chronicled the comings and goings, life events, deaths and even musings of people living in Hawaiʻi—a feed of information that was essentially Hawaiʻi’s first Facebook.
There are notices about locals’ health and tidings, want ads and sales, as well as names and activities of guests who had arrived in town. The notices are quite detailed—dates, places, times—and occasionally contain little jokes and bon mots. People with long-established roots in Hawaiʻi may even discover a relative.
The Pacific Commercial Advertiser is the latest newspaper to be covered by the Hawaiʻi Digital Newspaper Project, which has digitized over 200,000 English-language newspaper pages.
On the open-access Chronicling America website, users can browse and search this and other digitized American newspapers and read essays about them.