Attempting to include all phases of westward movement and settlement of the Americas, the Edward E. Ayer collection has an abundance of materials regarding the history of the native peoples under the jurisdiction of the United States in the Philippine Islands and Hawaii.
The Hawaiian material within the Ayer Collection concerns the history of the missionary period and the ethnology and linguistics of the native peoples. Material listed below cover some of the first published books in the Hawaiian language, books by native Hawaiians, grammar books, periodicals, and other manuscript material regarding expeditions to the Hawaii.
You can use this research guide for information on Searching the Catalog and Inventories, Reference Sources, Newberry Library Bulletins, Highlights from the Newberry Library Collections, Highlights from the Archival Collections, Digital Resources, and Collections at Other Institutions.
To find books within the Edward E. Ayer collection or on American Indian topics in our collection, you can search by subject in our catalog using some of the following headings (subject searching is slightly better in the Classic, rather than Vu-Find, interface for the catalog):
Hawaii Hawaii – Annexation Hawaii – Antiquities
Hawaii – Bibliography Hawaii – Biography Hawaii – Annexation to the United States
Hawaii – Civilization Hawaii – Constitution Hawaii – Commerce – United States
*You may also search by title or author, if either of these is known.
Most of our manuscript collections are available for viewing in the 4th floor Special Collections Reading Room. Full catalog records with name and subject access are included in the Newberry Library’s online catalog and OCLC’s WorldCat. Brief citations for manuscripts acquired before 1937 are included in A Check List of Manuscripts in the Edward E. Ayer Collection compiled by Ruth Lapham Butler (Chicago: Newberry Library, 1937). Manuscript collections dating from 1700 and containing five or more items are listed both by author and primary subject in the Newberry’s American Modern Manuscript Collections, 1700-present.
Butler, Ruth Lapham, comp. A Checklist of Manuscripts in the Edward E. Ayer Collection. Chicago: Newberry Library, 1937. Location: Shelved at Reference 3rd floor. Call number: Ref Z 6621.C53 A2. Other copies available.
MacCaughey, Vaughan. The One Hundred Most Important Books and Files relating to the Hawaiian Islands. In Bulletin of Bibliography and Dramatic Index, v.10, p. 71-73. Boston: Boston Book Co., 1918. Location: General Collection 2nd floor. Call number: Z 007 .18 v.10.
Griffin, A. P. C. List of Books relating to Hawaii: (Including References to Collected Works and Periodicals). Washington: Govt. Print. Office, 1898. Location: General Collection 2nd floor. Call number: Govt. LC 1.2 :H31.
Hunnewell, James Frothingham. Bibliography of the Hawaiian Islands. Boston, 1869. Location: Special Collections 4th floor. Call number: Ayer 290 .H85 1869.
Catalogue of the Bound Books in the Library of the Hawaiian Historical Society. Honolulu: R. Grieve, 1897. Location: Special Collections 4th floor. Call number: Ayer 290 .H25 1897.
Pargellis, Stanley. “The Problem of American Indian History.” The Newberry Library Bulletin 4.5 (1957): 129-138.
Read about the modest beginnings of this great collection in Edward E. Ayer’s “How I Bought My First Book.”
Below are highlights from the Polynesian material within the Edward E. Ayer collection:
Ellis, William. Na himeni Hawaii: he me ori ia Iehova ke Akua. Oahu: Paiia I ka mea Pai Palapala a ka Poe Misionari, 1823. Location: Special Collections 4th floor. Call number: Ayer BV 510 .H3 E45 1823.
A Narrative of Five Youth from the Sandwich Islands, Now Receiving an Education in This Country. New-York: J. Seymour, 1816. Location: General Collection 2nd floor. Call number: BV 2360 .A45 1810. Another copy available in Special Collections 4th floor.
Dwight, E. W. Memoirs of Henry Obookiah, a Native of Owhyhee, and a Member of the Foreign Mission School. New Haven: Office of the Religious Intelligencer, 1818. Location: Special Collections 4th floor. Call number: Ayer 247 .O125 D99 1818.
Richards, William. Memoir of Keopuolani, Late Queen of the Sandwich Islands. Boston: Crocker & Brewster, 1825. Location: Special Collections 4th floor. Call number: Ayer 1713 .K3 R5 1825.
Staley, Thomas Nettleship. Five Years’ Church Work in the Kingdom of Hawaii. London: Rivingtons, 1868. Location: Special Collections 4th floor. Call number: Ayer 1740 .S7 1868.
Ke Kumu kamalii. [Honolulu: Mission Press], 1837. Location: Special Collections 4th floor. Call number: Ayer 1602 .K91 1837.
Green, Jonathan S. He wahi mooolelo no Batimea Puaaiki, no Wailuku, Maui. Honolulu: Mea Pai Palapala a na Misionari, 1847. Location: Special Collections 4th floor. Call number: Ayer BV 3680 .H4 P68 1847.
Ke kaao o Laieikawai, ka hiwahiwa o Paliuli. Honolulu, Oahu: Paiia e Henry M. Whitney, lunapai o ke kuokoa, 1863. Location: Special Collections 4th floor. Call number: Ayer PL 6448.5 .K33 1863.
Hayne, Julien D., ed. The Hawaiians. Honolulu: Hawaiian Gazette, 1895-1896. Location: Special Collections 4th floor. Call number: Ayer 1602 .H23.
Obituary [of Kamehameha III, King of the Hawaiian Islands]. [Honolulu?, 1854?]. Location: Special Collections 4th floor. Call number: broadside Ayer 1611 .K15 O12 1854.
Letters and Calling Cards Signed by Members of Hawaii’s Last Ruling Family [manuscript]. 1840 Oct. 1 - 1887 Aug. 2. Letters and calling cards from 1840-1887, signed by members of the last ruling family of Hawaii. Documents include a letter in Hawaiian, dated October 1, 1840, signed by King Kamehameha III to Mataio Kekuanaoa, governor of Oahu; and a letter of Aug. 2, 1887 from the Fifth Avenue Hotel in New York City, containing the signatures of Desawongse and the king’s sons, Rabi, Pravitr, Chira, and Kitigakara. Location: Special Collections 4th floor. Call number: VAULT box Ayer MS 1959.
Account of an Expedition from Honolulu to Hilo [manuscript]. 1875 June 14 - Aug. 14. Unsigned account of an expedition from Honolulu to Hilo on the island of Hawaii, between June 14 and Aug. 14, 1875, with descriptions of excursions to Onomea Plantation and the Kilauea crater. The account, probably written by an American woman missionary teacher at a school in Honolulu, describes the journey she made to Hilo to visit friends. Location: Special Collections 4th floor. Call number: VAULT box Ayer MS 1462.
Coelho, W. J. Hawaiian Lessons [manuscript]. [ca. 1900]. Grammar of the Hawaiian language, composed around 1900 by W.J. Coelho, who later (1903) served as official interpreter of the Hawaiian legislature. Contains explanations of grammar points, vocabulary lists, and translation exercises. Location: Special Collections 4th floor. Call number: VAULT Ayer MS 1767.
Remy, Jules. Vocabulaire Havaiien-Français [manuscript]. [1852-1855]. Pocket dictionary of Hawaiian words and phrases with their meanings in French, compiled by Jules Remy during his travels in the Hawaiian archipelago between 1852 and 1855. Location: Special Collections 4th floor. Call number: VAULT Ayer MS 1768.
Liliuokalani, Queen of Hawaii. Nani na pua. San Francisco: Pacific Music Co., [18–]. Sheet music for a song composed by Liliʻuokalani, the first queen and last monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi. Location: Special Collections 4th floor. Call number: broadside Ayer 1753 .M9 L72 18—.
James Francis Driscoll Collection of American Sheet Music. ca. 1770s-1959. Hawaiian sheet music in box 192 with a lot of imagery on the covers. Location: General Collection 2nd floor. Call number: Driscoll.
American Indian Histories and Cultures is a deep and wide-ranging selection of visual and textual resources related to Native American culture and history. Taken from the Newberry Library’s Edward E. Ayer Collection, one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of American Indian history, the resource provides documents, images, context, and insight into American Indian culture and history, the European settlement of the Americas, and the interactions between the two groups. Access to this subscription database is available on-site through any of the Newberry’s public computers.
The Edward E. Ayer Digital Collection features several thousand digitized images and texts selected from the Newberry’s Ayer Collection, one of the strongest on American Indians in the world.
The Hawaiian Historical Society, established in 1892, is a private non-profit organization created by a group of prominent citizens dedicated to preserving historical materials, presenting public lectures, and publishing scholarly research on the history of Hawai’i. Queen Lili’uokalani was an early patron of the Society. For more information on their holdings at the library of the historical society, click here.