AHA is pleased to introduce you to another repository featured in the 5th Edition of the Directory of Historical Records Repositories in Hawai’i. This month’s pick is the Lyman Museum Archives. Lyman Archives includes historical documents, books, maps, ephemera, and photographic collections.
Lyman Museum Archivist, Miki Bulos, shared details of the current JOHN HOWARD PIERCE PHOTO IDENTIFICATION PROJECT:
The Pierce Photo Identification Project is an effort currently underway in the Lyman Museum Archives to identify the tens of thousands of photographs in the Pierce Collection.
Pierce, a former Hawaii Tribune-Herald reporter and Lyman Museum curator, was an avid photographer who meticulously documented his beloved home of Hawai‘i Island in the mid-twentieth century, a pivotal period defined and galvanized by the admission of Hawai‘i into the United States in 1959.
The collection contains Pierce’s surviving body of work—an estimated 50,000 photographic prints and negatives, the bulk of which are from the late 1950s through the early 1970s. The collection’s significance lies in the years covered and the variety of subjects captured. As the archives processes the collection, what becomes evident is that during a historically important period of tremendous growth and change—those years around statehood—Pierce and his camera bore witness to nearly all forms of community activity conducted on Hawai’i Island.
It is this expansive and comprehensive view of Hawai‘i Island that makes the collection not only an invaluable contribution to the community’s story, but an invaluable contribution to the state’s historical record. They provide a view to the recent past, revealing a community ambitiously growing, changing, and constructing a new future; remembering and reclaiming its traditions; and savoring the simple pleasures of everyday life.
Unfortunately, almost none of the photos in the collection have any information beyond date, if that. The Photo ID Project is a multi-pronged strategy to recruit community help to solve these mysteries. The recent Pierce Photograph Exhibit was a result of this project—over fifty identified photos were on display.
Unidentified photos have been shared with the public via Hawaii Tribune-Herald and the Kama‘aina Shopper, the Pierce photo exhibit, the Lyman Museum website, museum-hosted Photo ID Days and community outreach. Of the almost 800 photos made available to the public, approximately 450 have been identified (at least partially).