Hawaii Cemetery Records
This entry was originally written by Dwight A. Radford for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.
Hawaii’s unique mixture of ethnic groups has produced many fascinating and historic cemeteries. A few unique practices need to be understood in order to fully appreciate the various types of tombstones to be found on the islands. For example, when men were “lost at sea” or “buried at sea,” tombstones were often raised as a memorial to them in Hawaii’s cemeteries. Another example is the Buddhist tombstones, which are found very close together due to the cremation practice of the culture. Chinese immigrants were often returned to China for burial. This practice and the practice of removal of the remains to be shipped to China are reflected in the sexton’s records. Many of the Chinese and Japanese tombstones follow Confucian or Buddhist customs for memorializing ancestors. The use of posthumous names and lunar death dates is very common.
The Hawaiian Historical Society (see Hawaii Archives, Libraries, and Societies for address) publishes a guide to cemetery research on the island of Oahu. Many Hawaiian cemeteries are currently being cataloged and indexed in a computer bank by the Cemetery Research Project. Some cemeteries have been transcribed in the past by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) in Hawaii. Transcripts are available through the FHL. The Hawaii GenWeb Project (see page 16) is also a resource for a growing number of tombstone transcripts.