Monday, August 22, 2016

Happy Statehood Anniversary, Hawaii!

Official seal of the State of Hawaii 

August 21, 2016 marks the 57th anniversary of Hawaiian statehood.  What does this have to do with Massachusetts, you may ask?!  Missionaries who graduated from the Andover Theological Seminary (established in 1807 on the campus of Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts) played a pivotal role in the story of the “Americanization” of Hawaii that ultimately led to the establishment of our 50th state in 1959. Hiram and Sibyl Bingham and Asa and Lucy Thurston were the first company of New England missionaries to lead a mission to the then Sandwich Islands, as we call now the Hawaiian Islands, for the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (which was also founded in 1810 in Massachusetts by recent graduates of Williams College).

Hawaiian Bible

The missionaries arrived in Hawaii in 1820 and were the first to devise a written Hawaiian alphabet from what was until then only a spoken language. They translated the Bible into Hawaiian and taught the native Hawaiians how to read and write their spoken language. In 1841 a copy of one of the first translations of this Hawaiian Bible was presented to the General Court by the members of The Board (as detailed in 1841 Senate Bill 47) and placed in the keeping of the State Library, where this treasure still resides today. As a result of these very early Massachusetts missionary ties with Hawaii, the State Library’s collections on Hawaii and the history of the Hawaiian Islands are particularly rich and varied.

Some notable items include:

Judy Carlstrom
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