Skip to Main Content

'Iolani School Archives: Did You Know?

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


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

From the beginning...

Appointed the first Bishop for the missionary district of Honolulu in December 1861, Thomas Nettleship Staley arrived in October 1862 sent by the English Church in response to requests from King Kamehameha IV to establish a mission in his kingdom. He formed the Hawaiian Reformed Catholic Church (later the Anglican Church of Hawai'i). 

In 1863, Bishop Staley, Archdeacon George Mason, and Rev. Edmund Ibbotson, with the patronage of the King and Queen, established St. Alban's College ('Iolani School).

October through December 1862, missionaries arrived, founded the church in the islands, and prepared to open the school.

  • 10/11/1862 - Bishop Thomas N. Staley, Archdeacon George Mason, Rev. Edmund Ibbotson arrive. Rev. William R. Scott arrives soon after.
  • 10/12/1862 - First service in the Hawaiian Kingdom
  • 10/25/1862 - Hawaiian Reformed Catholic Church charter accepted at the courthouse
  • 11/08/1862 - Notice in the Polynesian newspaper that a "Collegiate Grammar School for Young Gentlemen" would be opening soon.
  • 11/09/2024 - First Hawaiian language service.
  • 12/14/1862 - First service in Lahaina, Maui
  • 12/27/1862 - Polynesian newspaper announcement that school will start January 12, 1863 at the Parsonage House, Kukui Street (behind the temporary cathedral; temporary; Mason residence; beginning of St. Alban's College). "The Warden will receive a limited number of boarders."
  • Summer 1863 - Rev. Scott establishes an English day school for boys in Lahaina, Maui


Clipping, 1862 announcement, future school opening

The Youngest Bunch

Kindergarten was introduced with the class of 1960 in school year 1947/48 (Ala Wai Campus).


Beginning in 1917, school colors were blue and white.
This changed to red, black, and white when we joined the Interscholastic League in 1936.

A Fond Farwell

The Class of 1953 was the last to graduate from Nu'uanu Campus.

A New Beginning

The Lower School opened at Ala Wai Campus in November 1946.

Quanset Hut Chapel at Ala Wai Campus 1946
Imua Iolani, December 20, 1946, page 3
(Click to enlarge)

For more information regarding the land history of the Ala Wai school site see:

Gotta Eat!

The Student Center was completed in May 1959.

Imua article: Shiny New Student Center Has Many Catchy Features
Imua Iolani, May 15, 1959.
(Publication title did not use diacritics at the time.)


The Archives has school newspapers as far back as the 1920s, but no issues from the 1930s.

The Iolani Newsette, May 25, 1923.

Heart of the School

Image: St. Alban's Chapel's stained glass window.

St. Alban's Chapel is situated at the heart of campus between the Upper and Lower schools.

  • Construction 1954
  • Consecrated on Oct. 3, 1954
    (See "Iolani Chapel Consecrated," Hawaiian Church Chronicle, Oct. 1954, page 3)
  • Jan. 25, 1995 K-12 service blessing the koa wood pews and stained glass
  • Stained glass and koa work- in honor of Rev. Coon
  • Koa provided by the C.Q. Yee Hop family from Yee Hop Ranch
  • Stained glass designed by Mrs. Joanne Coon and Mr. and Mrs. Randall L. Chun
  • The chapel on the previous, Nu'uanu, campus was also named St. Alban's
  • Named in recognition of the the first martyr of the English Church


An Episcopal school from its founding, 'Iolani became an independent school
January 20, 1942.

Clip from the Hawaiian Church Chronicle, February 1942
(Click to enlarge clip.)

Stamp of Approval

Elements of the school seal:

  • The Bishop hat, also known as a miter.
  • The keys in school seal are a stylized version of St. Peter's Keys.
  • The cross is a stylized Canterbury Cross representing the Bishop's office of the Anglican Church.

A version of the coat-of-arms design was adopted by the first Anglican Bishop of Hawai'i, Thomas Nettleship Staley.

Click images to enlarge.


'Iolani School traces it's beginnings to 1863; but, there were no graduating classes before 1917.
Click on the below images to enlarge and read remarks from the 1924 annual,
the first yearbook to be published.

                  1924 yearbook image 1.                               1924 yearbook image 2.
Ka Moolelo O Iolani, 1924, "Alumni," pages 52-54.
(Publication title did not use diacritics at the time.)

Living At School

'Iolani School had boarders through the 1959/60 school year.
Was exclusively a day school for school years 1960/61 - 2017/18.
The boarding program relaunched in school year 2018/19.

Special Delivery!

In former years, teachers were shipped to O'ahu on Matson liners.

School Spirit!

School Cheers, Yells, and Songs from an 'Iolani School Student Handbook
circa 1947, during the all-boys era.

Click images to enlarge.


'Iolani was founded as an all boys school. The implementation to coeducation was gradual.

  • Coeducation began in Fall 1979 (school year 1979/80).
  • Grade 7 (class of 1985) is the youngest coeducational grade at onset in SY 1979/80.
  • 1982- two girls appear in the class graduation photograph.
  • 1983- First large group of girls appearing in class graduation photograph.
  • Fall 1985 (SY 1985/86) girls began entering kindergarten.
  • First Daughters of ‘Iolani = class of 1998

Let's play!

The One Team Fieldhouse was completed Summer 2005.
The purpose was to have a covered play area for students.

Fun by any other name... Fair

The 'Iolani Fair started in 1948 as the Fun Festival and has gone by a few names:
It was called Fun Festival in 1948 - 1949.
It was called Carnival in the 1950s - 1980s.
As of 1990 it is called Fair.
Themes were introduced in the 1990s.

In the early days funds were raised for the Building Fund.
Currently, funds raised support student travel initiatives.
Always good times!

Centennial Carnival, school-year 1962/63

A Growing Legacy

Various religious figures participated in a tree planting ceremony on the nascent Ala Wai Campus which was the meeting place of the 58th Episcopal General Convention in 1955.
(See the below attached documents for more information.)

Hawai'i hosting the convention was notable because of the lack of segregation laws
which prevented a diverse gathering from occurring in the continental U.S.
(Hawai'i was a U.S. Territory at the time of the Convention.)
For more information about the Convention, please see:

The Gates of Time

The gates seen in this photo (circa 1947) of 'Iolani's Nu'uanu Campus
are the same gates at the present day Lower School Autoline.

                'Iolani School Nu'uanu Campus front gates.

After being found at a private residence,
they were moved and dedicated at the Ala Wai Campus in 1991.

"Maybe we should save that..."

The school's Archives program was started in the late 1970s by a school librarian.

Inquiring Minds

The Archives' collection of the 'Iolani School Bulletin begins in April 1960.

                Content disclaimer

For More Information

The trivia appearing on this page were taken from various sources in the 'Iolani School Archives. For more information, schedule an appointment to conduct your research. Please note the Archives' open hours on the Welcome tab of this guide.

© The researcher assumes all responsibility for complying with libel, privacy, and copyright laws.