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Founding Years




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Student Life

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Wider World



Christian Education as a Cultural Unifier

Success in Converting and Combining Different Cultures

"Since the spontaneous movement of 1819-20, when idol and temples were destroyed by the natives, the gospel has been preached until the whole nation is now practically Christian. The American Missionaries arrived in 1820, and, in addition to accomplishing the conversion of the islanders to the Christian religion, they taught them to read and write, reducing their language for the first time to a written form. All forms of the religion are tolerated; Roman Catholics, Anglicans, and Congregationalists are the principle denominations. Schools are established all over the island under the government, and in 1888 there were 8,770 pupils attending 189 schools.”

Schools as a Forum for Cultural Integration: The Boarding schools also functioned as a forum for the interactions of the myriad immigrant groups settling in Hawaii at that time. The Kawaiahao Boarding School for girls in Honolulu, Oahu was described by Mrs. Ann Gulick (Class of 1853) who writes, “My work here is among the large number of Japanese working women in the city. They are mostly illiterate and are very busy so that it is difficult to find them at leisure, and almost impossible to gather them together for instruction. Still some are reached, led to Church and a goodly number have become Christians.” This school was open to all nationalities and had a large number of Hawaiian, Chinese and Japanese students. Miss Martha A. Chamberlain (Class of 1853) also taught there, sometimes in English and sometimes in Hawaiian which is indicative of the efforts the missionaries made to adjust to life in Hawaii by learning the native language and another example of the cultural exchange which took place.

It is clear that Mount Holyoke missionaries were significant in influencing the evolution of Hawaii from a secluded, independent and homogenized society to the true melting pot it is today.


This page was created by [name student] '[grad year] in History 283, Fall Semester 2003 - [e-mail]