Library's digitization project preserves images of UH Manoa's past

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Dore Minatodani, (808) 956-2852
Librarian and Head of Special Collections, Library Services
Posted: Oct 7, 2015

UH Manoa student Charly Kinoshita, circled, in a 1968 Kappa Epsilon Theta photo in Ka Palapala.
UH Manoa student Charly Kinoshita, circled, in a 1968 Kappa Epsilon Theta photo in Ka Palapala.
CTAHR Associate Dean Charly Kinoshita views Ka Palapala online.
CTAHR Associate Dean Charly Kinoshita views Ka Palapala online.
Ka Palapala annuals on a Hamilton Library bookshelf.
Ka Palapala annuals on a Hamilton Library bookshelf.

(Timely news peg: It's Homecoming Week!)

For those attending the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa before 1968, Ka Palapala was a familiar publication. These bound annuals, similar in format to high school annuals, would memorialize every academic year.

Ka Palapala featured photos of university leaders and instructors, like popular Religion Professor Mits Aoki; sororities including Wakaba Kai and Te Chih Sheh; significant campus happenings like the Vietnam War protests; and even portraits of the Ka Palapala queens, who represented Hawaiʻi’s different ethnic groups.

Previously, if you wanted to look at Ka Palapala, you would venture to Hamilton Library, visit the Hawaiian and Pacific Collections reading room and peruse the bound copies of volumes on the shelves.

But today, courtesy of technology and a new $75,000 scanner, you can view Ka Palapala from the comfort of your own computer.

“About five years ago, the vice chancellor for research approached the library about providing some funding for digitizing research materials,” said Martha Chantiny, department head of Desktop Network Services at the library. “We were able to purchase this $75,000 overhead scanner and we had student workers scan for about two years, doing all of the Ka Palapala issues as well as the Ka Leo newspaper. And they did a terrific job.”

The digitization project is great news for UH Mānoa alumni such as Charly Kinoshita, now associate dean of the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. If Charly wanted to see his picture from, oh, say, 1968, when he was a Kappa Epsilon Theta fraternity brother, he could go online, scroll through the pages of the 1968 Ka Palapala and check it out.

In fact, when he went online recently to view the KEO photo for the first time in decades, the sight of the photo resulted in a flood of memories and made him exclaim with surprise.

This electronic access to Ka Palapala means UH Mānoa alumni, and their families and friends, can go back in time with the click of a mouse.

Said Kapena Shim, Hawaiʻi specialist librarian in the Hawaiian Collection at Library Services, “I strongly believe that libraries connect us, connect us to the legacies we are born into. Ka Palapala is a perfect example of that. Not only is it a great opportunity for our alumni to reconnect with Mānoa, but, more importantly, it’s a great opportunity for their grandkids to reconnect as well, connecting to a family legacy of higher education.”

Thanks to Library Services, viewers can go online to enjoy Ka Palapala’s senior portraits, learn about historic student groups like the Angel Flight sponsors for Air Force ROTC, and remember how it was to cram for finals in the good old days.

The department has also digitized most copies of the student newspaper, Ka Leo O Hawaiʻi, from 1922-1949 and 2002-2010.

Now it’s easy to reminisce via the digitized pages of Ka Palapala and Ka Leo. Just ask Charly. “I had much more hair at the time,” Kinoshita said, examining the photo of himself during his college days. “I gotta say, I actually aged gracefully.”

To browse Ka Palapala online, visit the Ka Palapala website.

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