Themes on 20th Century Hawaiʻi

Many of the last themes that we have posted to our website have focused on life in early 20th century Hawaiʻi and practices and traditions that survived from those times. 

ʻUluʻulu is honored to be the repository for so much visual history, and our collection continues to grow in depth and breadth. Our themes aim to showcase the richness of our fascinating resources that are open to anyone to use on their journeys of life-long learning. For more information on how to navigate our themes, check out our blog entry on that here:

Below we’ll detail a little about each of the themes that have recently been posted. You never know when you might find something really special hidden within the short clips; it pays to browse!

And there’s always so much more to learn and see in the footage beyond the clips – don’t forget to reach out to us to see more!

Transportation: Planes, Trains and Waʻa

People have utilized many different forms of transportation to get from place to place on land, across the ocean or through the air. In Hawaiʻi, of course, it’s no different – we’ve used cars, planes, trains and boats of various sorts. But, as usual, we have always done it with a unique sense of flair. 

We had fun pulling together old footage of railroads that ran on many of our islands, the grand, old cars that used to grace the often dirt roads, and scenes of Paniolo working hard on their horses. Tucked away in the frames are the gems that really make these fragments of history so valuable: from the way everyone dressed and behaved during a day out, to seeing the last day of service on the Historic ‘Oahu Railway to catching a glimpse of some of our local heroes in action.

Plantation Life

This theme gives you the opportunity to peek into plantation life as according to footage taken at active plantations over the years and the stories of the people that worked them. While the sugar industry managed to survive in Hawaiʻi until very recently, life in camps has all but disappeared. This theme is an introduction to the years of footage and interviews in our collection with individuals who experienced life in the camps as cane field workers, picture brides, and even labor organizers in major movements that helped form Hawaiʻi’s labor unions. In some cases we were lucky enough to receive footage of life on the plantations, including during strikes, at that time.

Life in the plantations was incredibly difficult. This is a generation that we know we owe a great debt to, and we’re proud to be the caretakers of so many of their stories.

Traditional Arts and Skills

This theme focuses on manual skills that are often associated with working on plantations, as well as, traditional skills that have often been passed down through generations. Some of these skills or arts have been made “obsolete” by modern technology, but nothing can ever really replace the quality and value of the work of a true master.

Armed with foresight, several of the filmmakers who have donated to our archive over the years set out to document the knowledge and stories of Hawaiʻi’s many masters.

See the ‘Ulu’ulu Staff Favorites!

We’re trying some new things on our social media pages. Please keep your eyes open for our new Staff Picks posts. Through these posts, the staff will be sharing some of their favorite clips that are available for everyone to view.

We intend to highlight the great variety of material that is available through our collection from Hawaiian Arts to the numerous cultures that are now part of the make-up of the islands.

Take a look at some of the picks we’ve already shared! Click on the images to see the corresponding clips!

If you want to see the full-length video of any of the Staff Picks, don’t hesitate to contact us and ask to stream the whole thing!

50th Anniversary Tribute to Earth Day!

This essay and the accompanying digital video theme page were written and curated by Sidney Louie and Haunani Haia as part of their Spring 2020 Library and Information Science course called LIS 658 Archival & Special Collections Management. Sidney and Haunani are graduate students in the LIS program at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa and are also Archive Project Assistants at ‘Ulu‘ulu.

“A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children.”  – John James Audubon

When Earth Day was founded on April 22, 1970, environmental issues of pollution, depleting natural resources, and endangered species pervaded the news.  This global movement mobilized earth’s citizens to advocate regulatory legislation within their national and local governments.  Building the next generation of environmental stewards, educators developed curriculum and activities for community transformation.  Fifty years later, environmental protection issues are still being discussed with newer practices of sustainability, climate action, zero waste, and restoration.  

With a threat like the COVID 19 coronavirus pandemic, we are forced to re-evaluate our responsibilities to environmental sustainability. In the midst of this pandemic and enforced lockdowns across the planet we see the effects of less pollution being caused and the earth breathing again. Our connection and impact to the world is more powerful than anything else on earth. Today we see fish returning to the canals of Venice; views of the Himalayan Mountains in India which havenʻt been seen clearly visible in almost 30 years; and clean, clear skies in the U.S. and China. Although our fight for the environment is not over; a crisis like this helps to clear the fog of economic and social development. We all must do our part in protecting the earth and the environment for generations to come. 

The conservation efforts chronicled and recorded by our local filmmakers and videographers are available to view in ‘Uluʻulu’s collections in our Earth Day Theme Page.  These videos represent the wide breadth of Hawaiʻi’s natural resources. They show our interaction with the environment, reflecting Native Hawaiian culture with respect to indigenous plants, animals, land and water.  

May Earth Live : A Journey Through the Hawaiian Forest

The clips that we post are only about 10% of the full-length footage. So, if you find yourself wanting to know just how the rest of an interview or segment went in one of the clips, request the full-length video on the  “Ask an Archivist” button located at the bottom of every page on our website. If you click on that button, you can fill out the form.  Please indicate the title  name and number.  From there, we’ll be able to assist you in getting the full-length footage streamed directly to you.

Exploring Theme Pages

The last several months have been a whirlwind for us all. While the world learns to deal with the concept of “social distancing” we hope that everyone is able to find some bright spots in their abundance of “me time.” The ‘Ulu’ulu staff is largely working from home, at the moment, but there are still parts of our collection that you can access without contacting us directly. For example, if you haven’t gotten a chance to familiarize yourself with our website, please do! The clip collection, in particular, is a feature on our website that is meant to assist anyone interested in searching our collection for research or just for fun. It’s perfect for when you have some extra time on your hands.
Anyone can search the clip collection using the search bar that should be at the top of every page on our website. The clip collection is always growing and we also create themes to pull some of them together by topic. Some topics are entertaining and some are more solemn, but we try to encompass the breadth of our collection in these themes. Past themes have included The Merrie Monarch Festival, Wai (water rights), politicians, women’s history month, paniolo and so much more. We have continued creating theme pages and are aiming to release new ones regularly as more items from our collections are digitized.
theme page
From our home page you can follow the navigation link at the top right hand corner of the page that says “Explore,” and this will take you to the complete collection of Theme Pages. You can browse through all of them and even discover a jumping off point for learning more. The sampling of clips in our themes are not exhaustive, but we hope they are an enlightening introduction to the many facets of Hawai‘i that are preserved in our archive. Below, are the two most recent themes focusing on the Performing Arts in Hawai‘i and Food!

Performing Arts

The performing arts have always been a big part of the cultures of Hawai‘i. From Hula to comedy, everything we do is unique or has a unique spin on it. We thought this would be a terrific opportunity to highlight ‘Ulu’ulu’s growing collection of performing arts materials.
We added a corresponding web theme to share some of the many clips that are available on our website to view. This collection focuses on the performing arts legacy that Hawai‘i and its people have nurtured for generations. Because of its multitude of cultures, Hawai‘i has regularly churned out artists and performances that are distinctly its own. Included here are a combination of clips depicting dance, stage drama, comedy and musical performances.


We updated an older theme on food to include some of our more recently generated clips, as food is one of the most important facets of any group of people. We need it to survive, but we also consume and share certain foods as ways to celebrate life events, comfort ourselves and demonstrate pride in our heritage. Here is our updated, theme page with clips from our numerous collections showing some of the many aspects of food in Hawai’i, from gathering to production to enjoyment.
The clips that we post are only about 10% of the full-length footage. So, if you find yourself wanting to know just how the rest of an interview or segment went in one of the clips, there is the “Ask an Archivist” button the bottom of every page on our website. If you click on that button, you can fill out the form and let us know which clip you want to see more of. Try to give as much information as possible; the title and the title number are particularly helpful. From there, we’ll be able to assist you in getting the full-length footage streamed directly to you.
We hope that this additional knowledge helps boost understanding about the archive and what we do.
Stay safe and healthy, everyone!

A Special Message from the Archive

Aloha everyone,

As we all face the unique challenges that the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has brought to us in recent months ‘Ulu’ulu is doing what we can to adjust so that we can to maintain service and ensure the well-being of our staff, researchers and colleagues. We are monitoring the situation as it swiftly evolves. Please be aware, that as a result, services and response times may be delayed.

To reduce the risk of exposure and transmission, ‘Ulu’ulu has also canceled any existing reservations and visits for the rest of the academic semester, and will not be making any new reservations for the time being.

Mahalo nui for your patience and understanding in this difficult time. Please stay safe, healthy and take care of each other!


The ‘Ulu’ulu Staff

Paid 2020 Summer Roselani Media Preservation Internship


Applications are now being accepted for the 2020 Roselani Media Preservation Internship at ‘Ulu‘ulu Moving Image Archive!

We are pleased to announce an exciting new partnership with the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA). This year, ‘Ulu‘ulu is a host site for AMIA’s Diversity and Inclusion Fellowship Program. AMIA Fellows may complete their internship at ‘Ulu‘ulu if accepted into both programs.

The student selected as the 2020 Roselani Intern must be committed to the preservation of our media history and enrolled in a moving image or archival academic program. Working side-by-side with experienced archivists, the intern will gain practical experience in a moving image archive.

The intern will receive a $4,000 stipend.

Application and information may be downloaded here.

Key dates:
February 1 – March 15: Applications accepted
April 15: Selection made
May – September: Internship takes place over 6-8 consecutive weeks (200 hours)

Interested in what a Roselani Media Preservation Internship is like? Meet some of our former interns:
2019 Roselani Intern
2018 Roselani Intern
2017 Roselani Intern
2016 Roselani Intern
2015 Roselani Intern

‘Ulu‘ulu 2019 Annual Newsletter


From all of us here at ‘Ulu‘ulu to all of you – we wish you the very best in the coming New Year! Since we sent out our last “year ender” two years ago, well, we have much to share.

ʻUluʻulu is not just your typical archive. It preserves, educates and participates. The Academy for Creative Media System concluded an agreement with Disney Animation in the summer of 2017 to translate Disney’s Moana into the Hawaiian language. With ACM System’s Director Chris Lee at the helm, the work continued throughout 2018 culminating with a world premiere on the beach at the ‘Aulani, A DIsney Resort & Spa followed by screenings at the Hawaiʻi International Film Festival 2018 and on the Great Lawn of the Bishop Museum. UHWO ACM partnered with ʻUluʻulu, Awaiaulu, Mele Studios at Honolulu Community College and UH Manoa’s Department of Theater and Dance among others to make this a successful effort.

In 2018, ‘Uluʻulu continued to grow with many new collections. One was the partnership with Bishop Museum, holder of one of the largest film collections in the state. The transfer will take a few years as staff from both institutions work carefully to prepare the thousands of film reels for the move from Kalihi to Kapolei. Within the collection is a small number of nitrate films from the early 1900s. Cellulose nitrate based films were produced in the early 20th century until 1952 and are combustible under certain temperatures and so are a priority for preservation. While attending the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) Conference in November of 2019, Assistant Archivist for Processing Hōkū Kaʻahaʻaina completed the Nitrate Shipping and Packing Workshop and is now the only certified technician in the state that can safely pack and ship these films.

2019 was also a very special year. It marked our ten year anniversary since our first grant award was received to create ‘Uluʻulu. We celebrated with a fabulous “fun-raiser” on the Great Lawn of the Bishop Museum where we honored collection donors and supporters.  Hawaii News Now’s Rick Blangiardi was the Event Chair and ‘Iolani Palace Executive Director Paula Akana was our Emcee. We are grateful for the support of so many including the Hawaiʻi State Legislature who helped to make this incredible educational facility possible.

In terms of special collections in 2019, we were honored to become the official caretakers of the Merrie Monarch Festival video content. We were also the recipient of the cinematic legacy of George Tahara, a prolific filmmaker who directed from the 1930s through the 1970s. His special interest was Hawaiian legends but in his lifetime he produced many projects from his days with the U.S. military producing war bond films during World War II, to educational documentaries that a generation of students watched in Hawai‘i classrooms.

We ended the year with a HIFF 2019 screening of newly transferred 16mm footage about the making of the tapestries which hang on the walls of the Senate and House chambers in the State Capitol.

All of this and more can be found on our website! Be sure to check it out!

We’d like to take a moment to share some of our accomplishments from 2018 and 2019 with you. Click here to view the ‘Ulu‘ulu 2019 Annual Newsletter report on our new collections, digital preservation projects, television and film premieres and more!

Mahalo nui loa for your support!

Introducing our 2019 Roselani Intern

Our 2019 Summer Roselani Intern is Shannon Devlin. Shannon has been working in audiovisual archives for the past two and-a-half years and recently graduated with her Masters of Library Science from Indiana University. Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, Shannon enjoys karaoke, watching movies and reading. She also really loves and misses her cat.

Prior to her time with ‘Ulu’ulu, Shannon had never set foot in Hawai’i! Shannon’s six weeks with us have flown by and are almost over, but we didn’t want to let her go without asking some questions about herself and her time with us, and having the opportunity to share.

What brought you here to ‘Ulu‘ulu? What are some of the things you’re hoping to learn during your internship with us?

I found ‘Ulu’ulu through my boss and professor Andy Uhrich, at the Indiana University Moving Image Archive, as well as a posting on the Association of Moving Image Archivists website. Andy promoted the position in his Intro to Moving Image Archive class, when it came available. I had wanted to apply to the position when it first came available that year, but felt that it may not work for me at the time, but when it came available this past semester, I really wanted to try my luck!

I have learned so much from working at the ‘Ulu’ulu Moving Image Archive, both in working with the newest incoming collections, as well as the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, the Pacific Islanders in Communications collection, and the Juniroa Productions Collection. For me, it has been particularly eye-opening to see the differences that size and budget make in an archive. I think that ‘Ulu’ulu is a great place that is doing so much good work for the Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Island collections that they hold.

What projects are you working on at ‘Ulu‘ulu?

A new incoming collection, which was the film and video collection of a local Hawaii filmmaker. (There’s more exciting news to come concerning this collection!) I have been helping to inventory and inspect the many film and video formats within it. I am also working on the PIFSC collection, for which I have been performing quality control and writing up descriptions of the digitized films for the archives Mavis database, and selecting clips for the ‘Ulu’ulu website. I am also working on cleaning, prepping, and performing quality control on the Juniroa Production materials, and the Pacific Islanders in Communications collection, for which I cleaned up metadata, and have been rehousing and finding new homes for the materials that were previously in boxes in the vault.

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Shannon inspecting videos from an incoming collection.

Is there anything about the videos you are working with that is surprising or unexpected?

I really enjoyed learning about the people living on the island of Lana’i, who were highlighted in part of the Juniroa collection which I QC’d. There was also a whole video I described that had a mama and a baby seal cuddling a beach!

Now that you have worked as a Moving Image Archivist and with Hawaiian cultural materials, what is your favorite aspect of the job and why?

I love inspecting film! It’s still my favorite part of being a Moving Image Archivist. There is something exciting about seeing beautiful images on film, and learning about/seeing interesting film damage.

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Shannon and Processing Archivist, Hoku, inspecting film.

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Receiving a massive collection.

So you’ve been here for a few weeks now, what are you enjoying most about Hawai‘i?

It’s beautiful! I love that I am both near the mountains and the ocean. This is the furthest I’ve ever been from home, and it has been so interesting to both learn about the Hawaiian culture and Hawaiian language, as well as just see the natural beauty that is Hawai’i. Also, everyone I’ve met has been so nice!

Do you have any advice for future Roselani Media Preservation Interns?

Maybe plan out things that you’d like to do in Hawai’i before you get here, as I’m still kind of figuring out what I want to do before I go. I would also recommend having an open mind, being prepared to work with multiple different kinds of materials. Also, be prepared for some weird film decay, if you end up working with film here!

As always, we want to give thanks to the generous support of the Henry Ku‘ualoha & Muriel Roselani Giugni Fund of the Hawai‘i Community Foundation, the Roselani Media Preservation Internship is offered each year at ‘Ulu‘ulu to give a student of merit who is committed to the preservation of our media history the opportunity to acquire practical experience in a moving image archive. 

Spring 2019 Interns Zachary Carlos and Lauren Kato

In this Spring of 2019, we here at ‘Ulu‘ulu are graced with the presence of not only one, but two interns from the Academy for Creative Media Program.  With a few months under each of their belts, they have gotten into the swing of things and have become familiar faces in the archive. During their time at ‘Ulu‘ulu, some of their duties include digital migration of tapes from various collections, setting up the archive exhibits, and verifying collection inventory and item counts. While we can go on and on about the work our interns are doing, we wanted to hear directly from Zach and Lauren about themselves and their experiences.

Could you introduce yourself and tell us what it’s like being a student in the Academy for Creative Media Program?


Zach in front of the digital video rack

Zach: Hi everyone, my name is Zachary Carlos, and I’m a senior at West Oahu’s Academy for Creative Media Program.

Being a student in the CM program is a great experience to be part of. With the classes offered in the program, I am able to further develop more towards my creative side with commercial designing and video gaming designing.


Lauren at the entrance to the archive area

Lauren: Hi, my name is Lauren Kato, I am in my final semester of the Academy for Creative Media Program at UH Manoa. The Creative Media Program is a fun and enjoyable program for people interested in creative media.


Zach scanning news log sheets from the KITV Collection

What brought you to your internship at ‘Ulu‘ulu?

Zach: I wanted to obtain some experience in an archival workplace and to understand the process of how things/materials are recorded and stored for safe keeping and future use. I would use some of the knowledge learned during my internship to be put on my resume, which would help companies I would like to apply for know that I have some knowledge in archiving important documents and such.

Lauren: As this is my last semester from the  Academy for Creative Media Program, I was thinking it would be a good idea to do an internship and my family agreed with me. My family and I were looking at different options, but my father was the one to suggest ‘Ulu‘ulu as a possible internship. With his help, we inquired with ‘Ulu‘ulu and in the end, it worked out and I was able to get an internship at ‘Ulu‘ulu.

Before you began interning at ‘Ulu‘ulu, what kind of image did the word ‘archive’ convey to you?

Zach: The image I envisioned for the word “archive” was like a vast building/collection of old materials: film, pictures, audio records, etc.  


Lauren sitting at the digitizing station

Lauren: Like most people would think, the word archive makes me think of old books, old paper documents, and even old maps.

Has that image changed by starting this internship?

Zach: The image somewhat changed, but not entirely.

Lauren: Yes, it has, the word archive does have many interpretations depending on what it is being preserved for future generations.

Please tell us about a project that you’re currently working on.


Zach digitizing footage from tapes

Zach: The project I’m currently working on is the KGMB Transcodes process. The process is basically re-coding ripped video files to a different source file by using a re-coding program. For the re-coding process, I have a batch of 10 videos to be re-coded, which takes about 20 minutes. After the 10 videos are done, I go to a spreadsheet to check how “damaged” the videos are by conducting quality control checks and damage ratings on the files.

Lauren: At ‘Ulu‘ulu, one of the projects I am helping out with is scanning old catalog index cards from the KITV News station. As for a Creative Media Project, I’m currently doing an interview assignment where I interviewed Janel Quirante about the ‘Ulu‘ulu archive.

Thank you to Lauren and Zach for sharing those thoughts with us. We sincerely appreciate your contribution to the archive and how much it helps the work that we do.  Be proud that you were a part of preserving Hawai‘i’s moving image history!

Paid 2019 Summer Roselani Media Preservation Internship

Applications are now being accepted for the 2019 Roselani Media Preservation Internship at ‘Ulu‘ulu Moving Image Archive!

The student selected as the 2019 Roselani Intern must be committed to the preservation of our media history and enrolled in a moving image or archival academic program. Working side-by-side with experienced archivists, the intern will gain practical experience in a moving image archive.

The intern will receive a $4,000 stipend.

Application Form and Instructions may be downloaded here.

Key dates:
March 1 – April 15: Applications accepted
April 30: Selection made
May – September: Internship takes place over 6-8 consecutive weeks (200 hours)

Interested in what a Roselani Media Preservation Internship is like? Meet some of our former interns:
2018 Roselani Intern
2017 Roselani Intern
2016 Roselani Intern
2015 Roselani Intern