Aloha, I'm Sandee!
Bonura tells Aholo’s story in an article titled “Lydia K. Aholo—Her Story, Recovering the Lost Voice,” written with Sally Witmer, in the 2013 issue of The Hawaiian Journal of History (volume 47).
The Queen and Lydia K. Aholo
EVENT FEBRUARY 14, 2014
IOLANI PALACE GROUNDS
The Hawaiian Historical Society members and friends heard the story of a remarkable woman who lived for more than a century and knew Queen Lili‘uokalani “as the only mother I had.” The woman—Lydia K. Aholo—was the subject of an illustrated talk presented by Sandra Bonura at the Society’s membership meeting on Thursday, February 13, 2014 at the Kana‘ina Building (Old Archives Building) to a standing-room-only crowd.
Lydia Aholo was born February 26, 1878, in Lahaina, Maui, to Luther Aholo, minister of interior during the reign of Kalākaua. He had earlier represented Lahaina in the legislature and served as postmaster general. Her mother, Keahi, died shortly after Lydia’s birth, and she became the hānai daughter of Queen Lili‘uokalani. She was reared in the royal household, attending Kawaiaha‘o Female Seminary, Kamehameha School for Girls, and Oberlin College, where she studied music. She discussed her life with the queen and at school in oral history interviews with Helena Allen in 1969. She died at the age of 101 on July 7, 1979.
Sandra Bonura is the co-author of An American Girl in the Hawaiian Islands: Letters of Carrie Prudence Winter 1890-1893. This book includes love letters by a Kawaiaha‘o Female Seminary teacher to her fiancé that were found in a forgotten attic trunk. During her research for the book, Bonura located the taped interviews by Lydia Aholo and facilitated their return to Hawai‘i, where they are now held at Kamehameha Schools Archives.
FROM THE CONNECTICUT HISTORICAL SOCIETY BLOG:
An Archival Trip to Hawaii Posted on November 20, 2013 by Archivist Barbara Austen
The Connecticut-Hawaii connection is still going strong. My post about Cooke’s letters home led to correspondence with a descendant of Cooke, which led to correspondence with scholars of Hawaiian history and educators in both Connecticut and Hawaii. The archivist at the Kamehameha Schools, Stacy Naipo, and her assistant Candace W. Lee , have offered to have their library assistants, their partners at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and college interns transcribe Amos’ letters for us (and them). This will be a great help since some of Cooke’s letters contain sentences and phrases in Hawaiian, which I would never understand. I have also made contact with a descendant of Henry Obookiah’s family, the person who brought Henry back to Hawaii for reburial, and a scholar in California, Sandee Bonura, who is writing about education in Hawaii and is interested in Amos Cooke. The circle widens!
In this year’s collection, An American Girl in the Hawaiian Islands: Letters of Carrie Prudence Winter, 1890–1893, received a top “Outstanding” rating. As defined by the selection process, Outstanding titles have “exceptional editorial content and subject matter. They are essential additions to most library collections.”
The reviewer’s comments below can be viewed at the end of the listing (sorted by Dewey Decimal class) of the 2013 Outstanding Titles.
The use of Carrie Prudence Winter’s original letters is what allows this book to become a rare primary source on topics such as: women missionaries, the last days of Hawaii’s monarchy, and a long-distance 19th century courtship. Ms. Winter’s use of language paints a compelling picture, engaging a reader’s imagination while they learn of a world few knew so intimately.”—Stacey Hayman (CODES/RUSA)
Besides being available online, the print bibliography was distributed last month at the American Library Association annual conference in Chicago.
An American Girl in the Hawaiian Islands also was also one of three finalists in the biography category of this year’s San Diego Book Awards.
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Honolulu Weekly November 2012 Book Review
Dr. Sandra Bonura is a southern California counselor educator whose longstanding love of Hawaii and people's stories were immediately engaged by the discovery of Carrie's letters and the characters and events they brought to life. Her efforts to find the long-inaccessible reel-to-reel taped recollections of Lydia Ka'onohiponiponiokalani Aholo, the hanai daughter of Queen Liliuokalani, and return them to the state are a permanent contribution to Hawaiian history. As someone who herself likes to disconnect from technology and reflect, Sandee believes that old-fashioned correspondence prove that the lost art of letter writing should be revived. She is busy writing about the indomitable Ida May Pope, the first principal at Kamehameha School and her influence on the Hawaiian Girls during the turn of the 19th century, especially Lydia Aholo.
An American Girl in the Hawaiian Islands: Letters of Carrie Prudence Winter,
Brief Description of "American Girl"
When twenty-three-year-old Carrie Prudence Winter caught her first glimpse of Honolulu from aboard the Zealandia in October 1890, she had "never seen anything so beautiful." She had been traveling for two months since leaving her family home in Connecticut and was at last only a few miles from her final destination, Kawaiaha'o Female Seminary, a flourishing boarding school for Hawaiian girls. As the daughter of staunch New England Congregationalists, Winter had dreamed of being a missionary teacher as a child and reasoned that "teaching for a few years among the Sandwich Islands seemed particularly attractive" while her fiancé pursued a science degree.
During her three years at Kawaiaha'o, Winter wrote often and at length to her "beloved Charlie"; her lively and affectionate letters provide readers with not only an intimate look at nineteenth-century courtship, but many invaluable details about life in Hawai'i during the last years of the monarchy and a young woman's struggle to enter a career while adjusting to surroundings that were unlike anything she had ever experienced.
In generous excerpts from dozens of letters, Winter describes teaching and living with her pupils, her relationships with fellow teachers, and her encounters with Hawaiian royalty (in particular Kawaiaha'o enjoyed the patronage of Queen Lili'uokalani, whose adopted daughter was enrolled as a
pupil) and members of influential missionary families, as well as ordinary citizens. She discusses the serious health concerns (leprosy, smallpox,
malaria) that irrevocably affected the lives of her students and took a keen (if somewhat naive) interest in relaying the political turmoil that ended in the annexation of the Hawaiian Islands by the U.S. in 1898.
The book opens with a magazine article written by Winter and published while she was still teaching at Kawaiaha'o, which humorously recounts her journey from Connecticut to Hawai'i and her arrival at the seminary. The work is augmented by more than fifty photographs, four autobiographical student essays, and an appendix identifying all of Winter's students and others mentioned in the letters. A foreword by education historian C. Kalani Beyer provides a context for understanding the Euro-centric and assimilationist curriculum promoted by early schools for Hawaiians like Kawaiaha'o Seminary and later the Kamehameha Schools and Mid-Pacific Institute.
69 illustrations 316 pp. August 2012 Cloth - Price: $39.00