The BAAS Founders’ Research Travel Award enabled me to carry out an invaluable archival trip to the University of Hawaii to research United States’ Pacific expansion and the California-Hawaii relationship in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, writes Henry Knight Lozano. The archives reveal how California and Hawaii were tied together in promotional visions from the U.S. acquisition of California in 1848 to the Second World War.
The British Association of American Studies Founders’ Research Travel Award enabled me to carry out an invaluable archival trip to use the Special Collections at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, in June 2016. This two-week trip has formed a vital part of my on-going book project, which seeks to understand a critical element in the United States’ Pacific expansion and identity in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries: the promotional relationship between California and Hawaii. It explores how promotional expansionism and development existed in unstable mix with defensive peril in moulding the California-Hawaii relationship and evolving discourses of “Americanisation” in these Pacific territories. Having previously done extensive archival work at the Huntington Library in Pasadena, California, it was important to delve into a range of materials held at the University of Hawaii to realise the transpacific ambitions of the project.
The project traces a relatively long period of time – nearly a century from the U.S. acquisition of California in 1848 to the Second World War – and this approach made the extensive Special Collections at the University of Hawaii particularly useful. Over the two-week period, I worked with a treasure trove of materials. I was, for instance, able to consult the Sanford Dole Papers, including the private correspondence of the first Provisional Governor of the Territory of Hawaii, who pushed for the Americanisation of Hawaii socially, industrially, and politically, not least through close ties with California. Another Dole – James – owned the Hawaiian Pineapple Company, the records of which provided insights into the rapid expansion of a fruit corporation that took inspiration, in part, from California’s marketing of citrus into a promotional icon.
From a much earlier period, the archive held scores of travelogues written by U.S. authors in California, Hawaii, and the wider Pacific world throughout the nineteenth century. These showed not only the transportation and literary connections that developed between the West Coast and the islands, but also how ideas of Manifest Destiny (and the “inevitable” Americanisation of California and of the Hawaiian Islands) worked to bind the pair together conceptually in the 1840s and 1850s. Materials on the early twentieth century were equally rich, demonstrating how the annexation of Hawaii not only reflected but also fostered significant promotional connections with California. Formed in 1903, for example, the Hawaii Promotion Committee and its records illuminated how island agencies worked closely with Californian counterparts to attract tourist travel and investment and develop an attractive imagery for Hawaii modelled, in part, on the successful promotion of Southern California as an exotic, semitropical U.S. destination. Lastly, and importantly, I was also able to explore the archive’s Hawaiian Collection, which included diaries of Kanaka Maoli leaders and a wealth of sources relating to the islands’ constitutional monarchy (pre-1898), providing insight into how many native Hawaiians resisted the formal Americanization of their homeland in the nineteenth century. In addition to all this, and with the expert guidance of local archivists, I found fascinating materials on the Hawaiian sugar industry, U.S. military development, and the growing Japanese community in the islands either side of 1900, all of which has added to the project’s exploration of the promotional visions and perilous ties that bound California and Hawaii together in this period.
In providing crucial funding that covered my flight to Hawaii, the BAAS Founders’ Research Award made possible this highly productive archival trip and thus helped to carry forward my book project in myriad ways. I am extremely grateful to have received this prestigious and generous award: thank you BAAS!
Henry Knight Lozano is Senior Lecturer in History and American Studies at Northumbria University.