HONOLULU (KHON2) — Queen Liliʻuokalani was removed from her throne at ʻIolani Palace in 1893, where she then stood trial and became imprisoned in her own room. 

Hawaii’s change has been drastic since then. 

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The Hawaii State Archives — located right next to the palace — digitized the Queen’s personal manuscript collection in honor of Liliʻuokalani’s 183rd birthday, permanently archiving its knowledge for all, free of charge.

KHON2 met with Hawaiʻi’s State archivist, Dr. Adam Jansen, to learn more.

What does the word “manuscript” really mean and what can people expect in the collection?

“For us, we consider a manuscript collection to be kind of a ‘catch all’ for written materials and as opposed to her records as the sovereign, these are the records of her as a person,” Jansen said.

“So they’re letters to Kaʻiulani, letters to her accountant, her dairies, newspaper clippings. So it’s a large collection of written types of material that deal with her entire life,” Jansen said.

What are the challenges of digitizing what is in the archives to put it online and make it available?

“Well, first off is the size,” Jansen said. 

“This is over 24,000 pages of material and some of the most important records in our collection. So we have to treat them very, very carefully and making sure we have completely accurate digital reproductions. What it really took was funding from the Liliʻuokalani Trust. We don’t have the staff or the resources to do this ourselves. And through their generous donation, we’re able to finally, for the first time, put it online so the public can have an unfiltered view of her majesty,” Jansen said.

It is now online and available to the public. 

What are the impacts and what can the community gain from this manuscript?

“They don’t have to rely on somebody else to interpret her majesty for them,” Jansen said.

“In the day of fake news, they have an opportunity to go right to the source to read her own handwriting, her own experiences, her diary entries to see who was she really, what did she stand for.”

And as the archivist and having the opportunity to actually go through all of these pieces and material, what is the greatest thing that can be learned from Queen Liliʻuokalani?

“What it means to be a leader,” says Jansen.

“Not only was she queen, but throughout her entire life, she dedicated her time, her energies, her efforts to bettering her people no matter where she was or what she was doing. This is the type of leader we need today.”

Queen Liliʻuokalani chose the Public Archives of Hawaiʻi to deposit her materials with the intent for free access to the public just a few months before she died in 1917. 

Anyone can access the Queen’s entire manuscript collection by clicking here

In addition, Hawaiʻi Ponoʻī Coalition is honoring the Queen with Hawaiian History Month throughout September. 

For all the information on that, click here.