KHS undertakes plantation map cataloging project

A major chapter in the history of modern-day Kaua’i is being recorded by the Kaua’i Historical Society.

The society is beginning a long-term project aimed at cataloging and preserving over 3,500 maps and aerial photos culled from the archives of the Lihue Plantation Co. and Kekaha Sugar Co.

After the plantation mills closed down Mary Requilman, director of the KHS, and KHS members collected the documents directly from the rooms in which they were stored and used at the plantation offices located in Lihu’e and at Kekaha.

Randy Wichman, KHS volunteer collection manager, is heading up the project which is being funded by a grant from the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts.

Kaua’i Community College librarian Ann McKenna and KHS library technican Marylou Bradley created the digital database being used to catalog the maps and photos. Bradley said she studied the Library of Congress’ online map database and used it as a model for the KHS database.

“I’m coming as close as I can to the Library of Congress standard,” Bradley said.

Wichman said the maps and aerial photograps are being broken down into sets of 250 to help organize and pace the cataloging work. He said a wide variety of information is being made available through the work, including a look at how subdivisions were developed and grew in Lihu’e, Wailua, Hanama’ulu, outlying areas of Princeville and other towns where Lihue Plantation owned land. A wide variety of information will be available as the database is filled in, he said. Some interesting searches might include finding who originally owned lots in subdivisions, tracing the development of plantation railroads plus the construction of bridges and water systems, locating the numbers and names of plantation fields and camps, and seeing how a particular surveyor did his work.

Requilman said volunteer workers are needed to help in the cataloging work. Anyone interested should call 245-3373.

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