Hawaii Immigration

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This entry was originally written by Dwight A. Radford for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
the Hawaii Family History Research series.
History of Hawaii
Hawaii Vital Records
Census Records for Hawaii
Background Sources for Hawaii
Hawaii Maps
Hawaii Land Records
Hawaii Probate Records
Hawaii Court Records
Hawaii Tax Records
Hawaii Cemetery Records
Hawaii Church Records
Hawaii Military Records
Hawaii Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
Hawaii Archives, Libraries, and Societies
Hawaii Immigration
Ethnic Groups of Hawaii
Hawaii County Resources
Map of Hawaii


The population of Hawaii is a blend of many ethnic groups. Immigrants came to Hawaii to work. The Chinese arrived in 1852, the Portuguese in 1878, the Japanese in 1884, Koreans in 1903, and Filipinos in 1906. The Japanese currently make up about thirty percent of the population and represent Hawaii’s largest ethnic group.

Records concerning arrival prior to 1860 have been compiled in the valuable volume entitled Voyages to Hawaii before 1860 by Bernice Judd (Honolulu: University of Hawaii, ca. 1974). This book is a compilation of narratives in the libraries of the Hawaiian Mission Children’s Society and the Hawaii Historical Society.

Passenger lists for persons arriving in Hawaii have been microfilmed from 1843 to 1900. These include a separate index for Chinese arrivals (1854–1900), Japanese arrivals (1888–1900), Portuguese arrivals (1878–1900), and a general index for all others (early to 1900). These ship manifests and the index are on microfilm at the Hawaii State Archives and the FHL. For the time period after 1900, contact the state archives

Although the Chinese arrivals in Hawaii are listed in the passenger lists (1854–1900), many arrivals were not recorded. The Board of Immigration in Hawaii recorded additional Chinese arrivals. This collection of records (1847–80) is on file at the Hawaii State Archives with microfilm copies at the FHL.

The Chinese Bureau of Hawaii has records of Chinese entry permits (1888–98); card index to Chinese Passports (1884–98); Chinese work permits (1895–97); departures of Chinese from Hawaii (1852–1900); index to entry permits of Chinese minors (1891–98); labor permits of persons who died in Hawaii (1895–97); and special resident permits (1891). Many of these records provide the entry date of the immigrant as well as the vessel. The originals are at the Hawaii State Archives. They have been microfilmed and are also on file at the FHL.

Many passport registrations for Portuguese citizens have been published in the volume entitled Passport Registrations: Portuguese Immigrants from Azores to Sandwich Isles, 1879–1883 (Honolulu: De Mello Publishing Co., n.d.).

The Japanese Consulate General, 1742 Nuuanu Ave., Honolulu, HI 96817, has records of Japanese nationals who came to Hawaii between 1885 and 1910.

The Hawaiian Sugar Planters’ Association Archives has been donated to the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Special Collections (see Hawaii Archives, Libraries, and Societies). These records consist of the various plantations on the islands and include personnel and payroll records, which will cover the various ethnic workers brought in to work in the sugar fields.

The following passenger lists and immigration indexes for Hawaii are searchable at Ancestry.com:

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