Library & Archives

Library & Archives

Library & Archives public access hours are temporarily on hold while we determine how to safely assist visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please email your collections-related questions, or to place an order for reproductions.


For more information please email: or, or call (808) 848-4148.

Bishop Museum’s Library & Archives have one of the richest and most varied collections of published works and primary source materials related to Hawai‘i and the Pacific.

Our Library holdings include rare books, periodicals, newspapers, and special collections of published material.

The Museum’s Archives hold the results of extensive studies done by Museum staff in various disciplines throughout the Pacific, as well diverse and important collections of manuscripts, photographs, artwork, oral histories, sound recordings, and maps.

Online Records

Library Catalog
Library holdings in the catalog include published materials such as monographs, pamphlets, and sheet music.

Archives Catalog
Archival holdings in the catalog are limited to oral histories, recorded mele (songs & chants), mele manuscripts, moving images, and art. All other collections necessitate in-house finding aids and catalogs.

Hawaiian Ethnological Notes
Commonly called HEN, these notes are largely Hawaiian language material translated by Mary Kawena Pukui. This material includes articles which appeared in Hawaiian Language newspapers. The online search engine provides access to records only. The HEN material must be accessed in-person but will eventually be available on OHA’s Papakilo database.

Anthropology Manuscripts Anthropology Projects
Records of manuscripts and projects of the Bishop Museum Anthropology Department.

Hawaiʻi Pacific Journal Index

Hawaiʻi Sheet Music Index

For all inquiries, please email

Read our latest stories.

Mary Kawena Pukui sitting outside of Hawaiian Hall. Mrs. Pukui’s prolific legacy of original musical compositions, cultural stories, histories, audio recordings, and ethnographic notes are housed in the Library & Archives.
(SP 86426, Bishop Museum Archives)
A page from Joseph Swift Emerson’s manuscript of rubbings taken from iʻe kuku, or kapa beaters, in Bishop Museum’s Ethnology Collection. The first three rubbings feature the laumaʻu pattern, said to resemble the maʻu fern (Sadleria cyatheoides). The fourth rubbing is a combination of the laumaʻu with pūpū, or circular pattern.
(SM 215149, Bishop Museum Archives)
A Hawaiian flag in full color appears on the front cover of the Hawaiian-language newspaper, Ke Koo o Hawaii, Augate 15, 1883. Beneath the flag are the words, “Ka Hae Nani o Hawaii, e Mau Kou Welo ana” [Hawaiian Flag, May You Wave Forever].
(SP 215150, Bishop Museum Archives)

Library & Archives public access hours are temporarily on hold while we determine how to safely assist visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please email your collections-related questions, or to place an order for reproductions.

When Bishop Museum opened to the public in June 1891, its library consisted of but a few shelves of books in what is today the Picture Gallery. From its beginnings in the personal collections of Charles Reed Bishop and Ke Ali‘i Bernice Pauahi Bishop, along with those of other members of the Hawaiian royal families, the Museum’s Library & Archives has grown to become a source and center for Hawaiian and Pacific Island materials.

Today, the Library & Archives is recognized internationally for the scope of its rich, varied, and irreplaceable holdings related to Hawai‘i and the Pacific. With collections that connect all Bishop Museum departments, it is also dedicated to the preservation of our institutional history.
The Bishop Museum Library contains an incredible variety of publications of and about Hawaiʻi and the Pacific, from examples of the earliest descriptions of the Pacific by western voyagers, to the first texts printed in Hawaiian and Pacific languages, and onward into the present with ever-increasing examples of creativity and scholarship.
Hawaiian-language materials in the Library are represented in part by the largest existing collection of Hawaiian-language newspapers, covering the full range of their publishing from 1834 to 1948. The Library also holds the most complete collection of Bishop Museum Press titles in their various editions and reprints. These include seminal works published by the Museum beginning in 1892 and includingʻŌlelo Noʻeau: Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings, compiled by the eminent Hawaiian scholar Mary Kawena Pukui and first published in 1983.
Bishop Museum Archives stewards diverse collections of manuscripts, photographs, artwork, oral histories, sound recordings, and maps. The Archives also houses the results of studies done by Museum staff in numerous disciplines throughout the Pacific, including primary source material collected by such notable figures as C. M. Cooke, J. Linsley Gressitt, Te Rangihiroa (Sir Peter Buck), G. C. Munro, and Yosihiko H. Sinoto.
The Bishop Museum Archives photograph collection is the largest assemblage of images of Hawaiʻi and the Pacific in the world, and the collection most often requested by researchers in the Archives. The array of over one million images, ranging from personal snapshots to scientific specimens, held in the photograph collection is staggering, and includes the oldest surviving photograph ever taken in Hawaiʻi. It is a daguerreotype (the first successful photographic process) dating from about 1847—appropriately, of Bernice Pauahi Bishop.
In contrast to our early history when the Library was intended almost exclusively for the use of Museum staff, members of the public now comprise the vast majority of researchers who access the Library & Archives collections. Our diverse patrons include lifelong learners, hula practitioners, genealogists, musicians, visual artists, students, anthropologists, academic researchers, and commercial entities. The Library & Archives are open to the public on Tuesdays and Thursdays (1 pm–4 pm), and Saturdays (9 am–noon).

Top Image: Panoramic view of Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head, ca. 1910. (Alonzo Gartley, Bishop Museum Archives)

Be a Part of Our Story

Celebrate the extraordinary history, culture, and environment of Hawaiʻi and the Pacific with a gift to Bishop Museum. As a partner in the Museum’s work, you can help to sustain vital collections, research, and knowledge, and inspire exploration and discovery with a tax-deductible donation.