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'Iolani School Archives - People of 'Iolani: Sun Yat-sen

Notable people in the history of 'Iolani School.


The ‘Iolani School Archives collects, organizes, preserves and provides access to historical records of ‘Iolani School.

General Information

Birth: November 12, 1866

Death: March 12, 1925

Birthplace: Xiangshan (now Zhongshan), Guangdong province, China

Political affiliation: Leader of the Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang)

Known for: Role in the overthrow of the Qing (Manchu) dynasty (1911/12) after centuries of dynastic rule; and, position as the first provisional president of the Republic of China.

Sun Yat-sen - Campus Seated Statue

The seated figure statue was donated in 1965 by the Kuo Min Tang (Kuomingtang) Society of Honolulu.

The ceremony was held in November 1965 to coincide with Dr. Sun's centennial birthday anniversary.

The statue is a reduced replica of one sculpted in Paris in 1928 by Paul Maximilien Landowski. Both this one and a similar one at the Honolulu International Airport were made by Liao Wei-lin.

Sun Yat-sen - Campus Standing Statue

The standing figure statue was dedicated in 2008, made possible by the City Mill Company, Ltd and the David C. Ai Charitable Trust.

The statue depicts a young Dr. Sun and was designed by Master Chu Tat Shing; who also made the one in Honolulu's Chinatown Gateway Park and the one in front of the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Museum in Hong Kong.

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                Content disclaimer

Who was Dr. Sun Yat-sen?

"Sun Yat-sen was the leader of the Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang [Pinyin: Guomindang]) and is known as the father of modern China. Influential in overthrowing the Qing (Manchu) dynasty (1911/12), he served as the first provisional president of the Republic of China (1911–12) and later as de facto ruler (1923–25)."

Learn more:
Wang, Y. Chu. "Sun Yat-sen." Encyclopedia Britannica.

Sun Yat-sen As Student

Dr. Sun Yat-sen is now commonly referred to as the "Father of Modern China."
Before his political days, he was an 'Iolani student.


Mural in the 'Iolani School Archives.

  • Current knowledge puts his attendance at ’Iolani School from 1879-1882;
  • At that time, the school was known as Iolani College, often called the Bishop's School, and was under the jurisdiction of the Anglican Church of Hawai'i;
  • The school was located on Bates Street in Nu’uanu;
  • He attended under the name Sun Tai Chu and Sun Tai Cheong;
  • He was 1 of 10 Chinese boys;
  • There were 6 Chinese boarders;
  • His days included academics such as English, mathematics, science, Latin; Chapel; drill; singing lessons; and tasks such as gardening and cleaning;
  • On Sundays, the boarders would attend services at St. Andrew's Cathedral;
  • For fun students would go to Alekoki and Kapena Falls;
  • In 1882 he received an award for English Grammar from King David Kalākaua who  presided over the school year's closing ceremony;
  • In general, his time in Hawai’i is credited with being where he learned about American Democracy and formed his thoughts about government.


-- Ai, Chung Kun. My Seventy Nine Years in Hawaii. Hong Kong: Cosmorana Pictorial, 1960.

-- Hawaii. Dept. of Public Instruction. "Biennial Report of the President of the Board of Education to the Legislative Assembly." Honolulu, 1880, p. 25. <>

-- Daily Pacific Commercial Advertiser, July 31, 1882.

-- Hawaiian Church Chronicle, September, 1912.

-- Pacific Commercial Advertiser, August 5, 1882. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress. <>

-- Soong, Irma Tam. "Dr. Sun Yat-Sen's Christian Schooling in Hawaii," Hawaiian Journal of History, vol. 31, 1997. <>

2016 Celebration of Dr. Sun's 150th Birthday

English Award

Other academic awards given that day are also listed giving insight into the curriculum of the school at that time. 

'Iolani in 1880

(Click to enlarge clip.)

"The course of study embraces the ordinary branches of learning, and also instruction in Algebra, Geometry, Physiology, Latin, and Drawing."

In Context

During this era...

Student makeup in the Hawaiian Islands
  • Hawaiian
  • Chinese
  • British
  • Portuguese
  • German
  • French

Student makeup of Iolani College
('Iolani School)
  • Hawaiian
  • Chinese
  • Caucasian

Number of students at Iolani College
  • 43

Leadership of the Anglican Church of Hawai'i
  • Bishop Alfred Willis (1872 - 1901)

Heads of School, Iolani College
  • Alatau T. Atkinson (circa 1871, 1874-1888)
  • C. T. Williamson (1871 -1887)

Location of Iolani College
  • Bates Street, Nu'uanu, O'ahu (1873 - 1902)

For More Information

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