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'Iolani School Archives: WWII

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

WWII Subject Guide and Resource List

World War II in ’Iolani School Archives


Like many institutions, ’Iolani School was heavily effected by the December 7, 1941 Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and the subsequent United States entry into the Second World War. The school, then located at Nu’uanu Avenue and Judd Street, was closed, military nurses took over space on campus, trenches were dug around the school, and parts of the campus were transformed into air raid shelters. In February 1942 when the school reopened it was without the high school department and about half the staff. Many of the staff and older students devoted themselves to the war effort or in support of their families. The rest of the high school students had to find other schools in which to finish their education; only a group of seniors remained to be tutored by a faculty member and earn their diplomas. They had a graduation ceremony punctuated with patriotic symbolism and songs, but there were no more graduations for the duration of the war. The Fall Semester of 1942 saw the addition of ninth grade, and one grade each year thereafter until the high school department was restored. The following are resources found in the ’Iolani School Archives related to life in the school during the WWII era.



  • Imua ’Iolani
    The student newspaper is an important record of the student voice and information about daily life in the school. Related articles range from 1940 through 1945 and 1952 through 1969. The Archives holds one edition for the 1941/42 school year, the year of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the October 17, 1941 edition. An article title example from 1942 is, "Do You Know Your Air Raid and Gas Alarm Instructions?"
  • Ka Moolelo O ’Iolani
    The school annual (yearbook) is a summary of each school year through the voice of the students themselves. Effects of war abroad can be seen in the 1939 edition with the addition of faculty position "Acting Headmaster" and in articles in the 1940 through 1947 editions. Nearly every page of the 1942 edition, the annual pertaining to the school year during which occurred the attack on Pearl Harbor, contains narratives, photos, and art work related to war effects. According to archival sources, permission was granted from the military Governor for the publication of this annual.
  • Scrapbooks Collection
    Adding to the richness of archival holdings are scrapbooks created by faculty members during their tenure at ’Iolani School. One scrapbook kept from 1937 to 1950 includes a photograph of a faculty member at a desk wearing a gas mask; this image was used in the 1942 Ka Moolelo O ’Iolani. Another kept from 1945 to 1946 includes a Matson wartime passenger notice.
  • Father Bray Collection
    A World War I veteran, Father Kenneth A. Bray, director of Athletics, also lent his clerical services locally during World War II. The archival holdings include Bray's military identification tag (dog tag), two portraits in uniform, circa 1941 to 1945, and his commemorative address given at Pearl Harbor on December 6, 1942.
  • ’Iolani School Bulletin
    Started in 1960, the magazine publishes news, accomplishments, and other stories about the school some of which have touched upon the topic of World War II. Of note is, "A Long-Awaited Graduation," the story of a special ceremony held in 1986 for those alumni whose education was interrupted by the war.


Other resources in the ’Iolani School Archives

  • Faculty/Staff/Administration Lists
    These staff lists show the profound effect of the attack on Pearl Harbor and efforts to recover during the following years. Relevant lists are school year 1941/42 through 1945/46; including a split list for "1941-42 (September to December 11, 1941)" and "1941-42 (January to June)."
  • Villers, Ernest G. A History of Iolani School, Section II: March 1940 to June 1959
    Faculty member Mr. Villers wrote a history of the beginnings of ’Iolani School as a master's thesis and, upon returning to the faculty after an absence, was asked by the Headmaster to continue his work. The result is a volume containing five relevant chapters, three through seven, covering the time period of 1941 through 1946.
  • Blueprint. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. War Emergency Construction, Hawaiian Department.
    Blueprint depicting the Ala Wai Campus grounds as it was utilized by the military during World War II, while leasing from ’Iolani School.


Related Online Collections


Related Archival Collections Beyond ’Iolani


King Kamehameha V Judiciary History Center video- "When Fear Reigned"

video: 12:51
Presented by the King Kamehameha V Judiciary History Center, Honolulu, Hawai'i.

D-Day Resources (non-'Iolani)

Note: Materials contain graphic information and images.

World War II

The events of December 7, 1941 had a profound effect on the 'Iolani School community.
Video: 47 seconds
The narration is a reading of student work appearing in the 1942 yearbook, Ka Moolelo O Iolani.
Created by the 'Iolani School Archives using collection material.

From WWII era student publications...

"Do you know your air raid and gas alarm instructions"

"Bring your gas mask to school every day."


"We attained manhood on December seventh,
and have put away childish things."

'Iolani Alumni A WWII Fallen Hero

Henry Saaga (1926-1945) was one of many 'Iolani students who felt the call to service. The above video was recorded where his name now appears on the Tablets of the Missing, Normandy American Cemetery.
Video: 2 minutes 41 seconds

War-time Graduation Program

*K-12 classroom opportunity suggestion (teaching with primary sources):
An age appropriate, document based question regarding the patriotic aspects of the program.

Hawai'i Internee Directory - JCCH

Teacher Resources

Making History Accessible

The American Soldier in World War II

A digital project launched in May 2018 commemorating Victory-in-Europe (V-E) Day with the goal of making a large collection of WWII records widely available.
Records include uncensored soldier commentaries about military service and wartime experiences which were collected by the US Army Research Branch during the war.

Joint venture:
Virginia Tech | National Archives | Social Science Research Council | University of Virginia.
Funded in part by: National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.

Project includes, Series:
Opinion Surveys Relating to the Morale of U.S. Army Personnel, 8/19/1947 - 10/15/1947
from the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Record Group 165:
Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs, 1860 - 1952

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Update from the National Archives Catalog Newsletter- May 14, 2020:

“Over 65,000 pages of reflections on war and military service written by World War II soldiers in their own hands have been transcribed and annotated...

“Look for the next phase of the project in 2021, as they launch an open-access website with all these intimate, now-readable wartime documents. Learn more at:

For More Information

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