Asian American and Pacific Islander Month: United Chinese Club of Kohala

Between 1850 and 1884, more than 18,000 Chinese immigrants arrived in Hawaiʻi – the first group of contract laborers employed by the sugar industry. Those Chinese workers and their children formed their own associations throughout the Islands. In rural North Kohala, Chinese workers formed the social groups Tong Wo Society and Lok Shin Tong.

In 1922, twenty-three young people, mostly second-generation immigrants, formed the United Chinese Club of Kohala to “promote and better the Chinese of Kohala, morally, socially, intellectually and physically” and to “develop and encourage ideas of mutual help and benefit for the Chinese of Kohala.” The small group of women and men hosted monthly meetings and an array of social events for the community. The club was active until 1941.

The Lyman Museum preserves a small collection of the Club’s records as well as documents of other Hawaiʻi Island organizations. The Archives is open for research by appointment. Learn more at

Minutes Book, 1922 to 1935. After an impassioned speech by Ms. Choy Zane the group voted unanimously to form the United Chinese Club. The minutes of the Club include a constitution, by-laws, and rosters of members and officers. In their first year, the group voted to allow 15-year-old students to join.
The records include this Club song. While many young people joined scouting or athletic groups, this rural Club organized picnics, banquets, dances, musical and literary programs. They also assisted some of the older Chinese in the community.
A set of 1926 blueprints is for the construction of the Club building in Hawi, Hawaiʻi. In 1925 the Club bought lot #4 in the Kahei House Lots on the Government Road near the Hawi Jodo Mission. The building is no longer standing.
The Club supported humanitarian aid for refugees and other destitute folks during the Sino-Japanese War of the 1930s and with other Hawaiʻi groups – the China Emergency Medical Relief in 1940.
Looking out a doorway of the Honpa Hongwanji Hilo Betsuin, 1960. A painted sign on the building at 616 Kilauea Avenue reads “1921 Lin Hing Society Established 1653.” Like the Chinese in Kohala, Chinese contract laborers in Hilo formed the Lin Hing Society for social and cooperative reasons.