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'Iolani School Archives: School History

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.

Current Knowledge

This page reflects current knowledge of the history of 'Iolani School.

History is always revealing itself, providing the opportunity for ongoing learning.

Monarchy Patrons

King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma
Images: Hawaii State Archives, call # PP-97-8-011 and PP-96-4-009

In 1862, following a request from King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma to the Church of England, the first Anglican bishop and priests arrived to establish the Diocese of Honolulu.

The Beginning

Coeducation Dates

'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

Ka Moolelo O Iolani, 1945

Print Histories Relating to the School

Villers, Ernest Gilbert. A History of Iolani School. Honolulu: 1940.
Available at ‘Iolani and University of Hawai‘i libraries.
Villers, Ernest Gilbert. A History of Iolani School, Section II, March 1940 to June 1959. Honolulu: 1959.
Available at ‘Iolani and University of Hawai‘i libraries.
Lum, Arlene, ed. At Thy Call We Gather: Iolani School. Honolulu: Iolani School, 1997.
Available at ‘Iolani, University of Hawai‘i, and public libraries.
Errata for At Thy Call We Gather:
Page 28, col. 2, line 18   ...Sun Yat-Sen was known as Sun Tai Cheong when he 
      attended Iolani (1879-1882).
Page 45, photo 19   The Stones were leaving Hawaii for a year-long sabbatical, 1938.
Page 59, photo 51   Photo is of William Buttles.
Page 281, photo 1   Claire and Jackie Mosteller
Page 296                 Next to last line should read “...Mike Yuen; Arlene Lum ....”   
Johnson, Don and Ronald Oba. The Ol’ Man: Father Kenneth A. Bray. Honolulu: Iolani Raiders Booster Club, 1994.
Available at ‘Iolani and public libraries.

Bishop Staley

Bishop Thomas Nettleship Staley 

(Bishop of Honolulu 1861- 1870)


Appointed first Bishop for the missionary district of Honolulu in December 1861. 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, Rev. George Mason, and Rev. Edmund Ibbotson, with the patronage of the King and Queen, established St. Alban's College ('Iolani School).

Historical Summaries & School Songs

Evolution Of A Name

Many changes have taken place in the long history of the school; including name changes:

  • St. Alban's College
  • Lahainalalo or Luaehu College (in Lahaina)
  • Iolani College (also known as Bishop's College School)
  • 'Iolani School

In materials reviewed, ‘Iolani as the school name has been attributed to both Queen Emma and King Kamehameha V.
Primary source documentation has yet to be explored in order to make the determination.
Kamehameha V is mentioned as naming the school in the
Hawaiian Church Chronicle, August 1930, page 3:

"On an official visit to the school, Kamehameha V gave it the name of Iolani."
and the issue of conflicting information is shown when reprinting memories of early student James H. Boyd in the
Hawaiian Church Chronicle, December 1930, page 12:
"Very soon, however, Mr. Mason leased the Booth premises in Pauoa, and the school was transferred to that place. A new building was immediately put up and duly inaugurated, Queen Emma giving it the name of Iolani School.
(Note- The late Pierre Jones told Bishop Restarick that Kamehameha V gave Iolani its name.)"
The mentioned Pierre Jones is a past head of school, school year 1873/74 - 1887/88.

School Locations

Since its small beginnings, the needs of 'Iolani School have grown and changed. Campus location has changed several times to meet those needs.

  • Parsonage House, Kukui Street, Honolulu, O'ahu: 1863 briefly
  • Ka'ala, Pauoa Valley, O'ahu: 1863 - 1888
  • Lahaina, Maui: End of 1863 or 1864 - 1868
  • Bates Street, Nu'uanu Valley, O'ahu: 1873 - 1901
  • St. Andrew's Cathedral Grounds, Honolulu, O'ahu: 1901 - 1927
  • Judd Street and Nu'uanu Avenue, O'ahu: 1927 - June 1953
  • Kamoku Street (Ala Wai Campus), Honolulu, O'ahu: Nov. 1946 - present


Reverend George Mason

(Warden 1863-64, 1868-72)

Rev. Mason was part of the initial party that arrived on O‘ahu with Bishop Staley in 1862. He played a crucial role in establishing the school and was the first Warden.
The 1862 newspaper article announcing opening of registration states that

"The Warden will receive a limited number of boarders.
The School will be conducted for the present at the Parsonage House."
The Parsonage House was the home of Mr. and Mrs. Mason. He also conducted early work at the Lahaina location and then returned to O‘ahu with the students to merge the two in March 1868.


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

(Click to enlarge clip.)

Heads of School

This list, compiled from our sources in the Archives, is not definitive or all-inclusive; much of the early information is unavailable or unclear. Titles were used inconsistently and sometimes interchangeably. Years indicate the end of the school year; for example, "1950" denotes the 1949-50 school year. 




Mason, George 

1863-64, 1868-72

Scott, William Richard


Ibbotson, Edmund J.


Hart, G.W.

1866, 1868

Turner, Charles William

1866-68, 1873

Warren, Edward


Higgins, H.


Atkinson, Alatau T.

ca. 1871, 1874-88

Williamson, C.T.

ca. 1871-1887

Swan, William Alexander

1873-74, 1882-84

Jones, Pierre


Clark, Abel

1875-80, ca. 1887

Suplee, Thomas D.


Baker, Brookes Ono


Willis, Bishop Alfred  


Whalley, Herbert


White, C. Henry


Barnes, William Henry


Kitcat, V.H. 


Bush, John


Paetow, F.C.


Hughes, John V.


Fenn, R.J.


Lane, John


Fitz, Frank S.

1899, 1901-05

Blackman, Leopold G.


Morgan, J.B.


Bliss, Witt H. 


Dodd, I. Neal


Hall, Albert L. 


Saylor, Frank A. 


Kroll, Leopold 


Hinkley, Thurston R. 


Ottman, Donald R. 


Tracy, Leland H. 


Caldwell, Roberta


Woods, Maitland 


Spencer, Robert S.


Hinckley, Thurston R. 


Collins, James Philmore


Stone, Albert H. 


Young, Charles Herbert


Eshelman, John Carl


Buttles, W. William


Lyon-Vaiden, Arthur 


Monell, Ralph P.


Parmiter, Charles A. 


McDonald, Frederick


MacLean, Burton A.


Coon, David P.


Miller, Thomas H.


Iwashita, Val T.


Cottrell, Timothy R.



A more detailed list can be found at:

Related Information

For More Information

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