The “Family-Separating Disease”: The Hawaiian Journal of History Remembers Leprosy Settlement
The 50th anniversary edition of The Hawaiian Journal of History honors another historic date: the 150th anniversary of the first patients sent to the Hawaiian leprosy settlement in Kalaupapa on the island of Moloka‘i. The Hawaiian Journal of History launched on the Project MUSE platform this year, and the anniversary issue is now available.
In recognition of the sesquicentennial anniversary, the issue opens with an article by BYU Prof. Fred E. Woods, “A Vow Remembered: Lawrence M. Judd and His Pledge to Kalaupapa.” Settlement superintendent Judd, who witnessed the corralling and separation of leprosy patients from their families at Honolulu harbor as a boy, spent a lifetime improving the conditions for, and lives of, those with Hansen’s disease in Hawai‘i.
In related articles, editor John Clark details the journey of the Moloka‘i Kannon statue that Japanese patients at Kalaupapa requested to fulfill their religious needs. Archivist Stuart W.H. Ching explores the portraits that Father Joseph Julliote, SS.CC., captured of Kalaupapa residents.
“Unlike the clinical photographs of the Public Health Service, which focused on the effects of the disease, Father Julliotte’s portraits brought out the dignity of each person,” Ching writes. Further, “Each person residing at Kalaupapa brought with them a past personal history. Weaving their individual life stories into the fabric of the community contributes a richness and complexity to the overall story of Kalaupapa.”
The cover image features the portrait of a young patient, Palakiko Kuokala, who was eight years old when he was sent to Kalaupapa on Nov. 1, 1905, and he died there on Dec. 3, 1917. Standing alone in this compelling photo, Palakiko speaks to one of the common names that Native Hawaiians had for leprosy, ma‘i ho‘okale ‘ohana, the “family-separating disease.” This year’s Journal is the color of the kikania berries that grow on bushes at Kalaupapa. Patients picked the berries and made lei with them for special occasions.
In addition to the anniversary-related content, this year’s issue includes articles on Native Hawaiian bird hunting pratices, the 1873 royal elections, and the private sorrows of the American families who overthrew the queen 20 years later. Other articles explore French globetrotter Marcel Monnier’s portrayal of Hawaiians in 1884, the life of local “champagne socialist” and labor attorney Harriet Bouslog, and territorial surplus disposal after WWII.
The Hawaiian Journal of History is an annual journal devoted to original articles on the history of Hawai‘i, Polynesia, and the Pacific area. Each issue includes articles on a variety of subjects; illustrations; book reviews; notes and queries; and a bibliography of recent Hawaiian titles of historical interest. Volume 49 is available to the public.