AHA Collaborates with Hale Noelo for First Genealogy Workshop

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By Nicki Garces

Historically, the Association of Hawaiʻi Archivists (AHA) provide free workshops to the public on archiving and preserving family history. This time, due to growing community requests, AHA decided to offer workshops on genealogy research. The first genealogy workshop was held on October 14, 2017 in collaboration with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ Hale Noelo Research and Technology Center. Due to limited capacity, community members had an opportunity to sign up for a morning or afternoon session held at Hale Noelo, a hidden gem located at the back of the Nā Lama Kukui building in Iwilei. The objective to these sessions was to have the attendees be introduced to and try out the free services offered at the Center.

Project Manager Kale Hannahs gave a thorough introduction on Hale Noelo, including the Center’s own “genealogy.” The Center was a natural progression of the Papakilo database, a public access digital repository of data pertaining to the history, culture and geography of Hawaiʻi. Known as “the database of databases,” Papakilo was created in 2011 from the growing collection of data OHA acquired from mandated environmental and cultural compliance reviews for development projects.  It contains OHA’s report database, historical land records and the SHPD Index database. OHA funds the project which also builds on partnerships. Papakilo also includes digitized collections from institutions such as Bishop Museum, Hula Preservation Society, Kauaʻi Historical Society, Kawaiahaʻo Church, Kamakakuokalani, the Hawaiʻi State Archives, Ulukau and ʻUluʻulu. Through Hale Noelo, institutions with restricted resources are able to protect their collections through digitization and preservation  and extend online access to the general public. Kipuka database is the younger sibling of Papakilo that uses GPS mapping. Search for area maps can be done via tax map key or word search.

With the success of Papakilo, OHA further planned to include the community, not only to access the records and other materials on the database, but to also help families preserve their own family histories. Hence, Hale Noelo was born and launched on April 18, 2016. Hale Noelo offers four types of services:

1) Digitization and preservation: Hale Noelo has equipment to digitize microfilm, oversized materials such as large maps, and bound materials such as scrapbooks. The Center prioritizes educating the public on how to best preserve family collections. As it is not a requirement, individuals who utilize the center’s digitization services has the option to include the digitized items on Papakilo. Those who comply, sign an agreement form.

2) Genealogy technical assistance: Luci Meyer is the in-house professional genealogist who assists clients on how to do genealogy research. This includes verification and research regarding kuleana tax exemptions.

3) Subscriptions to e-resources: As subscription databases are expensive, Hale Noelo subscribes to ancestry.com, EBSCOHost research databases, and other newspaper, journal and periodical databases that have information about Hawaiʻi. These resources are for the community to use free of charge at the Center.

4) “Recordation” services: Hale Noelo has a meeting room and equipment to record and videotape oral history. It has partnered with the Library of Congress and NPR’s StoryCorps that broadcasts interviews on Hawaiian cultural practitioners. It also does intergenerational collaborations such as their project with Nanakuli Library that engages elders and youth.

After the in-depth presentation, the Saturday attendees were able to try out the different subscription databases, Papakilo, and Kipuka, as well as have their documents digitized. Professional genealogist Ami Mulligan and researcher Sarah Tamashiro, who will be the facilitators for the next AHA genealogy workshop, were guests at the morning session. During the hands-on activities, they assisted the attendees with their genealogy research. The attendees were grateful for Ami’s and Sarah’s help as they uncovered more information on their ancestors.  

The community members who came to the workshop had various degrees of genealogy experience. Some have not done genealogy before. One attendee has 40 years of doing genealogy, and was impressed with Hale Noelo’s services. A grandmother came with her granddaughter and great grandson. The family had done genealogy for their other ethnic backgrounds; this was their first time researching their Hawaiian roots. Kale helped them find information about a Hawaiian ancestor and they were blown away with his progeny. The granddaughter said that she is interested in her genealogy because she wants to be ready to answer her son when he has questions about his family. As each session was only 2 ½ hours long, most of the attendees mentioned that they will schedule one-on-one appointments with Hale Noelo.

The next AHA genealogy workshop will be on January 13, 2018 at the University of Hawaiʻi Mānoa Hamilton Library. Ami and Sarah will focus on genealogy research and will provide case studies on overcoming barriers. Registration information will be available shortly.

For more information about Hale Noelo and to schedule an appointment, visit their webpage at www.oha.org/halenoelo. The Papakilo database is found at www.papakilodatabase.com and the Kipuka database is found at www.kipukadatabase.com. Both databases are remotely accessible and free to the public.                      

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