HONOLULU (KHON2) — Music just doesn’t serve as entertainment — it serves as a means of archiving as well, archiving the voices of old and the stories of their time.

One of the largest known collections of Hawaiian music in the world has found a new home at the Hawaiʻi State Archives, and they need your help sorting it out.

Get news on the go with KHON 2GO, KHON’s morning podcast, every morning at 8

Over 20,000 pieces of Hawaiian music live in scores of boxes, just waiting to be organized: 10,000 came from Canada, 10,000 came from Territorial Airwaves and smaller collections came from other donors.  

The goal is to make the collection accessible to the public. Archivist Adam Jansen is calling on the community to help take on this huge task.

“It’s more than my staff can handle. We need help, both financially, but more importantly, we need the community to help drive this project,” Jansen said.

According to Jansen, about 60% or more of the collection is 78RPM records, making them before the mid-1950s. The oldest piece discovered so far dates back to 1905!

Volunteers will be responsible for cleaning, indexing and digitizing the collection.

“This is immensely valuable because in archives we tend to focus very heavily on written work, but Hawaii is such an oral tradition that these records — particularly the oldest ones — have moʻolelo that we don’t have written down,” Jansen explained. “So making these accessible to the people is going to be immensely valuable.”

The collection (everything out of copyright) will eventually be put online for anyone to access; everything else can be accessible by coming into the Archives.

“We’re going to learn things about how did the instruments sound originally, what lyrics were spoken originally, what was the time signature and the tempos being used,” said Jansen.

What’s going on around the globe. Find out in International News

Those interested in volunteering to help process this collection or who have music-related items to donate can email archives@hawaii.gov.