The Archives of the Museum includes historical documents, books, maps, ephemera, and photographic collections.   Contact print books of many of the photographs, arranged very generally by theme, are available for your use.  Staff can also search for photographs in our database by keyword.  We encourage patrons to utilize public libraries for browsing or general research.  If you cannot locate the book you seek elsewhere and if we have it in our collection, we will gladly work with you to make an appointment to use it.  If you are interested in using the Lyman Museum Archives and Research Collection please fill out the Research Request Form and the Archivist will contact you to confirm your appointment date and time.

Archives Directory:

Archives FAQ

Research Collections

Research Room Guidelines

Archives Services and Fees

Services and Fees (Download and Print Form)

Research Request (Form)

Pierce Photo ID Project


Frequently Asked Questions (Archives)

What documents are in the Lyman Museum?

The Archives contains many local history documents.  The collection includes papers of kanaka maoli (the Hawaiian people), Christian missionaries, and immigrant families as well as records of Hawaiʻi Island businesses, organizations, and schools.  The items also include books, maps, moving images and photographs.  The materials represent 240 years and span more than 500 linear feet. 

Does the Museum have information about my family? 

Many local families have donated personal papers and photographs to the Museum.  We can search for individual people and family information within the collection.  Because the archives does not focus on genealogy, you may also want to check with other organizations for your family history.

Can I come look at old photos?

The Archives contains approximately 40,000 images in a wide variety of formats as well a small number of moving images. Not all images are available for viewing. Staff can assist you in researching images on a particular person, place or topic. Many negatives, photographs and moving images are already digitized. More are in the process of being digitized.

Do you have land records and other government documents?

The Archives does not actively collect government records. A few government documents are contained in specific collections.  For example, some land documents and maps are part of sugar company records. Those do not represent all parts of the island. If you are searching for information about your own property or ancestors, also check with county, state or federal government agencies.

When can I come see the Archives?

Research requests and appointments must be made prior to your visit. Walk-in requests are not accepted.  Please plan ahead.  Submit your research request form at least two weeks in advance and wait for a reply.  Be specific and include any relevant names and subjects.  Materials are viewed under staff supervision.  Please submit a “Research Request Form.”

Research Room Guidelines

Research Room Guidelines

These procedures allow the Lyman Museum to assist researchers and protect rare, fragile, and unique materials. Preserving these irreplaceable items is a responsibility shared by Museum staff and researchers.  Before you first visit to the Archives, please complete a research request form, make an appointment with the archivist and read through these guidelines:

  • Prepare. Leave behind bags (backpacks, briefcases, etc.) before coming into the building. Inform museum staff of research appointment, pay admission and sign-in.
  • Viewing Limited. Materials may be used one at a time in the archives under staff supervision. The stacks are closed for browsing.  Materials may not be borrowed from our collections. There are no exceptions.
  • Collections Care and Security. Bring supplies such as pencils, paper for taking notes and electronic devices.  No pens, markers, or ink of any kind.  No food, drink, candy or tobacco products. Keep all materials in the order in which you find them. Do not lean on, fold, trace, or make marks on any materials. Follow directions for handling.
  • Photography Limited. Ask to use your camera or scanner. They may be used for research purposes at a flat rate of $10 per Restrictions may apply.
  • Reproductions: The Museum will reproduce documents, photographs for a fee if the condition of the material warrants it. The use of such reproductions requires written permission from the Museum. A commercial use fee is required. The researcher is responsible for complying with copyright law.

Research Checklists (with above information)

Before Your Visit

On The Day of Your Visit

  • Leave behind bags (backpacks, briefcases, etc.) before coming into the building.
  • Bring your supplies such as pencils, paper for taking notes and electronic devices.
  • Check-in at front desk
  • Pay any admission fee at the time of sign-in. Inform the staff if you are a Museum member.