Kalaupapa: A Collective Memory
600pp. September 2012
Kalaupapa: A Collective Memory
Author: Law, Anwei Skinsnes;
Winner of the 2013 Samuel M. Kamakau Award for Hawai‘i Book of the Year and the Ka Palapala Po‘okela Award of Excellence in Hawaiian Language, Culture, and History 

Between 1866 and 1969, an estimated 8,000 individuals—at least 90 percent of whom were Native Hawaiians—were sent to Molokai’s remote Kalaupapa peninsula because they were believed to have leprosy. Unwilling to accept the loss of their families, homes, and citizenship, these individuals ensured they would be accorded their rightful place in history. They left a powerful testimony of their lives in the form of letters, petitions, music, memoirs, and oral history interviews. Kalaupapa combines more than 200 hours of interviews with archival documents, including over 300 letters and petitions written by the earliest residents translated from Hawaiian.

It has long been assumed that those sent to Kalaupapa were unconcerned with the world they were forced to leave behind. The present work shows that residents remained actively interested and involved in life beyond Kalaupapa. They petitioned the Hawaii Legislative Assembly in 1874, seeking justice. They fervently supported Queen Liliuokalani and the Hawaiian Kingdom prior to annexation and contributed to the relief effort in Europe following World War I. In 1997 Kalaupapa residents advocated at the United Nations together with people affected by leprosy from around the world.

This book presents at long last the story of Kalaupapa as told by its people.

295 illus.

A Latitude 20 Book
“Many historians and others interested in Kalaupapa have been waiting for this book for some years and it does not disappoint. This is the first comprehensive history of the Kalaupapa settlement that focuses on the patients' stories and is told from their points of view. It is thus a very important contribution to Hawaiian history. Law’s ethnographic research is as outstanding as her historical work . . . The book also includes a detailed index of names and subjects that will be very helpful for researchers. . . . . Law does an exemplary job constructing an insightful narrative from these sources into a book that is beautifully realized by UH Press. Personal photos of people, places, and documents accentuate the stories with striking visual components that pull you further into the atmosphere set by the book.” —judges' comments, 2013 Ka Palapala Po‘okela Awards

“This book, while conveying the facts and figures, is primarily what its subtitle implies: a collective memoir. Throughout, it's the voices of patients that sing and murmur, shout and whisper from the pages. And their words—from oral histories Law has been collecting for 40 years to letters, documents and poetic Hawaiian songs you'd hardly expect from the pens of people so badly mistreated—shatter many myths. . . . You learn that for many Kalaupapa residents—especially in the early and mid-20th century—life was full of activity, friendship, laughter and love despite the dual pain of being separated from loved ones and of the effects of the disease itself. . . . This book, with its soul-searing black-and-white pictures and clean design by Julie Matsuo-Chun, belongs on the bookshelf of anyone who cares about Hawaii history.” —Honolulu Star-Advertiser (27 January 2013)

“If there were a course on Kalaupapa, this would likely be its textbook. With its history book-like appeal, fused with intimate pictures and well-documented stories, this book succeeds in personalizing the impact of leprosy in Hawaiian history and follows the mass effect disease plays on a culture and its communities. Its organized format makes the book an easy read while its sub-heading chapters allows for readers to begin Kalaupapa exploration at any page. Put simply, Kalaupapa: A Collective Memory is the book on Kalaupapa. I would recommend it to anyone interested in the back stories of Kalaupapa, Hawaiian history, politics and injustice, as well as for those trying to understand and cope with the weight of disease and loss.” —Maui Time Weekly (15 November 2012)

“There are countless stories about Hawaii that have not been shared with the rest of the world. Thanks to Anwei Skinsnes Law, the history of Kalaupapa is no longer one of them. This deeply-researched book is more of a memoir, shedding light on the residents of Kalaupapa, who were sent away by the Board of Health because they were believed to have leprosy. 90 percent of these people were native Hawaiians, and they lost their homes, family and even their rights as citizens. Filled with archival images, letters, songs and quotes, this book finally shares the true voices of these individuals.” —Honolulu Weekly (7 November 2012)
Author: Law, Anwei Skinsnes;
Anwei Skinsnes Law first visited Kalaupapa in 1968 at the age of sixteen. Over the last forty years, she has researched the history of leprosy in Hawai‘i, conducted oral history interviews at Kalaupapa, and produced documentaries and books on different aspects of Kalaupapa’s history. Since 1994 Law has served as the international coordinator of IDEA, the largest international human rights organization by and for people who have experienced leprosy.
Read the Contents and Preface (PDF).