Dr. Sandra Bonura

Aloha, I'm Sandee!

American Girl in the Hawaiian Islands: The Letters of Carrie Prudence Winter 1890-1893 Book Release - Native Books in Honolulu - First signing, September 2012
Miss Pope sitting at her desk in 1906 at the Kamehameha School for Girls with Lydia Aholo right behind her.



Light in the Queen's Garden is an historical account of a short, stout, blue eyed feisty teacher from Bucyrus, Ohio who arrived in the Kingdom of Hawaii at the end of the 19th century. Ida Pope's assignment was to teach in Kawaiahao Seminary, a lively boarding school for Hawaiian girls, founded by American missionaries and led by Queen Lili'uokalani.


Bonura uses newly discovered primary source materials to flesh out and enliven the historical account of the 1893 Hawaiian Revolution that happened literally outside the school's windows. Many of the towering personages in Hawai`i's history show up in the story as Ida sheltered Hawaii's daughters through the frightening and turbulent end of their sovereign nation. Ida Pope's firsthand account of the years that brought Hawai`i's daughters into womanhood during the annexation of their kingdom tells an important story about resiliency.

Ida Pope became a source of inspiration for all the school's stakeholders, and with the approval of Queen Lili'uokalani, established the Kamehameha School for Girls. As Hawai`i moved into the twentieth century under a new flag, Ida confronted the effects of industrialization, the growing concentration of outside economic power and worked tirelessly to attain social reforms and give Hawaiian women their rightful place in society But, the male-dominated society and their Victorian view of the female role sought to thwart her efforts. Undaunted, Miss Pope, the pragmatic activist, achieved on a small island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, what other extraordinary women like Jane Addams, Ida Tarbell and Lillian Wald were concurrently doing in her homeland.


An American Girl in the Hawaiian Islands Earns AAUP Outstanding Rating


Each year the Association of American University Presses (AAUP) compiles its University Press Books for Public and Secondary Schools Libraries, a bibliography of titles submitted by member presses as a tool for collection development. The books are rated by committees of public and secondary-school librarians from two divisions of the American Library Association.

In the 2013 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.”

Reviewer’s comments:

" 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

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.

At Ida May Pope's death in 1914, one alumna sobbed:

She gave the best part of her young life to develop in the Hawaiian girls a character of true womanhood. She was a woman of dignified, businesslike personality; firm yet kind, leading a life of true self-denial, sincerity, and all that makes a life of noble Christianity. She was a teacher, a principal, and above all, a mother and there is in the heart of every true Kamehameha girl a great “ALOHA” for her.

Lovely! Note Princess Kailauni's image worn around the neck.

Under Contract: LIGHT IN THE QUEEN’S GARDENUniversity of Hawaii Press, 2016

Governor Abercrombie holding rough draft of American Girl in the Hawaiian Islands
Queen Emma Day at the Palace October 2013 with my favorite "Daughter" Sally
Click this link :) (130 KB)

BOOK REVIEW Star Advertiser October 2012

Ida May Pope: Haole Mother in Hawaii 1862-1914

BIO: 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 just finished 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, 1890-1893


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
ISBN: 978-0-8248-3627-6