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Sam King

Sam King, second from left, during his years in the U.S. Navy during World War II.

A historical archive covering items and papers from the life of the Honorable Samuel P. King, once a Hawaiʻi gubernatorial candidate and a legendary state and federal judge, will be on display in the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa William S. Richardson School of Law Library through December 14 during regular daily library hours.

The new archive is one of two involving federal judges now housed at the UH Law Library. The other archive includes collected papers of the Honorable Myron H. Bright of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

A leading citizen of Hawaiʻi

King’s life alone spanned Hawaiʻi’s pre-statehood and early statehood years through 2010, the year of his death. The archive reflects a leading citizen of Hawaiʻi with a multitude of interests, and includes such things as photos of him as a young World War ll Navy officer, copies of notebooks in which he recorded the 2,200 marriages he performed as a judge, and elaborate diagrams for “Go” strategies. King was an expert at the game and translated the seminal book on the subject from Japanese to English.

“Sam was born in China when his father was stationed on a U.S. gunboat on the Yangtze River,” says Library Director and Associate Professor Victoria Szymczak. “There are even some pictures of him as a baby in China, and one very old photo of his grandmother.”

Memorabilia from Sam King's run for governor.

Memorabilia from Sam King’s run for governor.

The archive begins in 1933 when King won an oratory award in his senior year at Punahou that included a free “reporting” trip to Europe. It extends through his involvement in politics, his role as a pioneering state family court judge and his long history as a federal judge. He was involved as a judge in some of the thorniest issues of the time, including H-3 litigation, a mysterious Palmyra murder case, and even the legal maintenance of the habitat of an endangered native honey-creeper.

The King items on display are just a tiny portion of the thousands of items and documents donated by King’s widow, Anne, and her family, to the UH law library.

“Because of the very close legal community, personal archives have a special place in people’s hearts and are viable research collections as well as historical collections,” Szymczak said.

Said Law Dean Avi Soifer, “Many of us greatly admired Judge King and it has been a treat to get to know the King family better as we arranged for this wonderfully generous gift to the law school.”

Law Professor Randall Roth, an authority on trust law and a close friend of the King family, was instrumental in having the King collection reside at the library. Both Roth and King were involved in developing a document known as “Broken Trust” that helped bring to light some of the questionable operations of the former Bishop Estate in the late 1990s. Its publication played a key role in a change of trustees and a renewal of the mission of what is now known simply as Kamehameha Schools.

The William S. Richardson School of Law Library is a natural repository for the personal and professional papers of significant Hawaiʻi legal and political figures, notes Law Library Director and Associate Professor Victoria Szymczak.

Library hours

Fall hours for the UH Law Library are Sundays to Thursdays, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m, and Fridays and Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The library is closed on state holidays.

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