“Without the printing press, the written Hawaiian language, and a learned people of that time, we would know little about the past.” (Muench)
“The first printing press at the Hawaiian Islands was imported by the American missionaries, and landed from the brig Thaddeus in April, 1820. In style, it was not unlike the first used by Benjamin Franklin.”
“It was set up in a thatched house standing not very far from the old frame Mission house that now stands on King street opposite the Kawaiahaʻo Seminary (where the Mission Memorial Building is today.)” (Parker; The Friend)
“On the 7th of January, 1822, a year and eight months from the time of our receiving the governmental permission to enter the field and teach the people, we commenced printing the language in order to give them letters, libraries, and the living oracles in their own tongue, that the nation might read and understand the wonderful works of God.”
“The opening to them of this source of light never known to their ancestors remote or near, occurred while many thousands of the friends of the heathen were on the monthly concert, unitedly praying that the Gospel might have free course and he glorified.” (Bingham)
Standing beside a printing press and observed by an American printer, shipmasters, missionaries, and traders, Chief Ke‘eaumoku put his hand on the press lever, exerted pressure, and printed wet black syllables in Hawaiian and English. (HHS)
At this inauguration there were present his Excellency Governor (Ke‘eaumoku (Gov. Cox,)) a chief of the first rank, with his retinue; some other chiefs and natives; Rev. Hiram Bingham, missionary; Mr. Loomis, printer, (who had just completed setting it up); James Hunnewell; Captain William Henry and Captain Masters (Americans.) (Ballou)
“Edmund Butler … a resident of Maui … also took an interest in this novel scene, while one of the highest chiefs of these islands aided in commencing the printing of his native tongue.” (Gulick)
Mr. Loomis set up the first lesson of a spelling book, or primer, called ‘P-a-pa.’ … It is a sheet four by six inches, having twelve lines, each line having five separate syllables of two letters.”
“This certainly was the first printing done at the Hawaiian Islands, probably the first on the shores of the North Pacific Ocean. A month later Mr. Bingham received a letter from Governor Kuakini (John Adams) of Hawai‘i, who had succeeded in mastering the contents of the first printed sheet.” (Parker: The Friend)
“We are happy to announce to you that, on the first Monday of January (1822), we commenced printing, and, with great satisfaction, have put the first eight pages of the Owhyhee spellingbook into the hands of our pupils”.
Native Hawaiians immediately perceived the importance of “palapala” – document, to write or send a message. “Makai” – “good” – exclaimed Chief Ke‘eaumoku, to thus begin the torrent of print communications that we have today. (HHS)
Thereafter, printing on the first press, a second-hand Ramage, went on continuously for six years, until in 1828 an additional press was sent from Boston. The original press was acquired by the missionary school at Lahainaluna on Maui in 1834.
The presses of the Sandwich Islands Mission in Honolulu and Lahainaluna were the major printers of books in Hawaiian in the Islands until 1858, when the work of printing for the Mission was handed over on a business basis to Henry M. Whitney, a missionary son.
He continued to handle the Hawaiian language books for the Hawaiian Evangelical Association, which had superseded the Sandwich Islands Mission in 1854.
The Bible was translated from the original Greek and Hebrew by the combined efforts of Hiram Bingham and Asa Thurston of the Pioneer Company, Artemas Bishop and James Ely of the Second Company, William Richards, Lorrin Andrews, Jonathan Green, and Ephraim Clark of the Third Company, and Sheldon Dibble of the Fourth Company.
Although the work was begun in 1822, the first segment of the Bible, the Gospel of Luke, did not come off the press until 1827. The rest of the New Testament was completed by 1832 and the Old Testament in 1839 (although the date given on the title page is 1838).
“By far the larger part of the great mass of printed matter issued here in the fifty years subsequent to the arrival of Christian teachers was in the form of religious works and school books.”
“Aside from the Scriptures there have been published works on theology, in its different branches, church history, Bible text books and commentaries on the Bible, or parts of it.”
“Much time and labor, too, on the temperance question, with its many phases, and on other social topics, have gone into the printed page, which has found its way among the people with beneficial results to those who had the disposition to read and reflect.”
“Sermons and tracts by the thousands were published and had no lack of readers. Pilgrim’s Progress went into print in the native language among the first of the translated books.”
“Later, works of a secular nature began to issue from the native press and became popular. The stories of Washington, Lincoln. Grant, of Victoria, Napoleon, Xapier and others of the world’s distinguished men and women have been read by the Hawaiian in his native tongue.”
“The ‘Pioneer Boy,’ a story of Lincoln, was translated and published in book form for Hawaiian readers and Robinson Crusoe has also found its readers in the Hawaiian.” (Parker; The Friend)
The mission press printed 10,000-copies of Ka Palapala Hemolele (The Holy Scriptures). It was 2,331-pages long printed front and back.
The mission press also printed newspaper, hymnals, schoolbooks, broadsides, fliers, laws, and proclamations. The mission presses printed over 113,000,000 sheets of paper in 20 years. (Mission Houses)
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Boyd D. Bond says
So, basically you’re saying that the first thing the missionaries did was the period equivalent of setting up a web page? The power of the printed word, in any form of media.