Research Collections

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The Lyman Museum Archives preserves historic documents of the Hawaiian people, personal papers of Christian missionaries and other families as well as records of Hawaiʻi Island businesses, organizations and schools. The collections exemplify 240 years and span more than 485 linear feet. Researchers may choose to explore Hawaiian culture, agriculture, education, immigration, Hilo development, missionaries, post-statehood Hawaiʻi or tsunami damage.


Kohala Sugar Company, 1857-1973: Rev. Elias Bond and Dr. James Wight established the company on the Island of Hawaiʻi in 1862; it closed in 1973. The records consist of 6 series: administration, history, financial, maps and charts, personnel policies, and production.  Other records are from the Hawaiʻi Railroad Company, the Homestead Plantation, Kehena Water, Kohala Ditch, Kohala Pineapple, Māhukona Terminal and Pacific Sugar. Size: 6 linear ft. Photos.

Wishard Family Papers, 1877-1981: The Wishard and Renton families owned and managed Union Mill in Kohala. The papers include personal items, blueprints, cattle brand registry, contracts and correspondence. Size: 6 linear ft. Photos.

Hāmākua Sugar Company, 1899-1990: The company consolidated 7 original plantations: Hāmākua, Honokaʻa, Kaiwiki, Kūkaʻiau, Laupāhoehoe, Pāʻauhau and Pacific.  The Hāmākua records are divided into the following categories: administration, corporate, correspondence, equipment, payroll, personnel, and production. Size: 250 linear ft. Photos.

C. Brewer and Company, 1900-1996: James Hunnewell and Henry A. Peirce began the company in 1826. The company expanded from a general trading company to sugar plantations in 1826. The records contain information about the Hawaiian Agriculture Company, Kaʻū Agribusiness, Hutchison Mill, and the Hilo, Onomea, Pepeʻekeo, Honomū, and Hakalau sugar companies. They are arranged into 7 series: administration, land, financial, payroll, personnel, production and other companies. Size: 155 linear ft. Photos.

Hilo Coast Processing Company, 1910-1972: The records of Hilo Coast Processing Company include items mostly from predecessor companies: Pepeʻekeo Sugar Company, Hakalau Plantation Company and other businesses. The records contain handwritten log books from the 1920s to the 1950s, labor agreements from as early as 1910, and agreements between sugar companies and other corporations. Size: 2 linear ft.

Hawaii Macadamia Nut Industry Records, 1914-1998: The records are arranged into 3 series: macadamia nut operations of Keaʻau Orchard; records from the Hawaiʻi Macadamia Producers Association and publications of other macadamia companies and associations. Size: 15 linear ft. Photos.


Hilo Boarding School Records, 1831-1968: In 1836 Rev. David and Sarah Lyman established the first vocational school for native Hawaiian boys in Hilo, Hawaiʻi. The files are arranged in 11 series: historical; charters of incorporation, by-laws; Board of Trustee minutes; correspondence; departmental; education; financial; legal and litigation; Lyman Hall; Hilo Center and scrapbooks. Size: 13 linear ft.


Hilo Medical Center Records, 1936-1950, 1973-2003: This collection preserves some of the history of health care on Hawai‘i Island specifically the records of Puumaile Hospital and Hilo Hospital, which later merged together. Newspaper articles, photographs and documents reflect some of the changes in these two health organizations over a sixty-seven year period. There is a limited collection of other statewide hospitals. Size: 2.9 linear feet.

Hilo Drug Company Ledgers, 1896-1950: The pharmacy ledgers include handwritten and typewritten prescriptions. The orders include alcohol, cocaine, castor oil and quinine, as well as synthetic medicines. The museum balances data confidentiality and availability. When using the materials in-house, researchers are asked to assume responsibility for the privacy of protected health information. In this ongoing project, digital records will be publicly released on a yearly schedule. Size: 13 oversize ledgers, limited digital images. Click on the year to see the records: 1896, 1897, 1898.


Spinola-Carvalho de Mello Family Papers, 1893-1978: Michael de F. and Alice C. Spinola, a Portuguese Catholic couple served in business and education roles in Hilo. The collection documents the family’s genealogy, personal life and church activities. Size: 2 cubic ft. Photos.

Kubo Family Papers, 1910-1978: Personal papers of Masao Kubo, a Japanese Nisei (second generation) and prominent dentist, and Florence Standring Kubo, an immigrant woman who chose higher education. The papers show the dramatic changes of Americanization to local culture. They highlight the social activities and community advocacy of this interracial couple during Hawaii’s territorial years. The family collection includes extensive correspondence, professional and community related documents, hundreds of photographs and architectural drawings. Size: 3.3 linear feet. Photos.

Young Family Papers, 1919-1953: Papers of Young Chung, Young Eliza Choy Yee Chun and their large family. The documents illuminate the life of this Chinese immigrant family and owners of the Ah Mai Store, also known as Young’s Store. This family collection includes papers related to support of the Chinese democratic revolution and more than 130 photographs. Size: 0.4 linear feet. Photos.

United Chinese Club of Kohala Records, 1922-1990: This collection includes records of a fraternal, social and mutual-assistance organization formed by Chinese immigrants in 1922. It consists of 6 series: history, minutes, blueprints, correspondence, membership and financial records and mementos. Size: 0.4 linear ft.

Missionaries and Families

Missionary Papers, 1823-1951: American missionaries and their descendants exerted tremendous influence in Hawaiʻi.  Some individuals later chose government service, business or medicine. The papers are from 17 missionary families: Alexander, Anderson, Armstrong, Beckwith, Bingham, Castle, Chamberlain, Coan, Cooke, Dibble, Emerson, Hitchcock, Loomis, Lyons, Paris, Shipman and Wetmore as well as records of religious agencies. Size: 4 linear ft.

Rev. David and Sarah Lyman Papers, 1831-1885: The Lymans arrived on Hawaiʻi Island in 1832.  The collection consists of genealogy; records, letters and journals of Rev. Lyman; letters, journals and diaries of Sarah Lyman and memorabilia. Size: 2.5 linear ft.

Papers of Subsequent Generations of Lymans, 1845-1986: Papers of the children of David and Sarah Lyman, Hawaiian descendants and other generations. Size: 4.4 linear ft. Photos.

Orlando Hammond Lyman Papers, 1851-1988: Personal items of subsequent generations of the family, especially Orlando Lyman, who served as an Agronomist for the Hawaiian Sugar Planters Association, a businessman, mineral collector and director of the Lyman Museum. Size: 23 linear ft.

Other Collections

Books and Ephemera, 1783-present: The earliest publication is An Authentic Narrative of a Voyage Performed by Captain Cook and Captain Clerke (1783). The diverse works emphasize the subjects of religion (missions and the Bible), social sciences, language (Hawaiian), pure science, technology (agriculture), arts, recreation (hymnals and music), literature, history and geography, biographies and periodicals. Size: more than 5000 titles.

Historical Archives, 1777-1991: This group is assembled from a variety of donors. The papers are arranged into 10 major series: business, education, ethnic groups, government activities, Hawaiʻi Island, the Severance family and publications about Hawaiʻi, religions, royalty and science. Size: 4 linear ft.

Maps and Architectural Drawings, 1784-present: The maps and architectural drawings include examples from the 9 districts of Hawaii Island. They document geology, tourism, rainfall, roads, steamship routes, sugar land,topography and development proposals. Size: more than 850 documents.

Moving Images, 1924-1974: In cooperation with ʻUluʻulu: the Henry Kuʻualoha Giugni Moving Image Archives of Hawaiʻi a group of 16 mm films from the Lyman Museum collection have been preserved. They feature celebrations, parades, Paniolo, royal courts, Portuguese bread making and volcanic eruptions. Size: 45 moving images.

Photographs, 1848-present: The collection illustrates agriculture, business, cultural activities, education, ethnic culture, geography, government and politics, people, recreation, royalty and transportation of Hawaiʻi Island. More than 700 images of the Hilo Boarding School document its long history. Nearly 20,000 images by John Howard Pierce, a donation from Kona Historical Society, stand as a remarkable record of people, places, events, construction, and development during the period 1959-1972. Size: more than 40,000 images.