The Kauai Historical Society is one of this island’s little-known treasures.
It doesn’t attract a lot of attention, nor does it get a whole lot of publicity. It is often overshadowed by the Kauai Museum, which does an outstanding job under the leadership of its director, Chucky Boy Chock, and is enjoying growth and success.
The KHS is facing some challenges and could use your help so it can continue to do what it does best — preserve Kauai’s history. Let’s explain why.
The historical society, to put it simply, has struggled financially as of late. Grants have been reduced. Donations have fallen off. The hours of its small office in the Historic County Building have been reduced as well.
For years, it operated under the steady hand of Mary Requilman, who retired in 2015 and, sadly, passed away June 10, 2018, at the age of 71. She was, for a time, the heart and soul of this nonprofit. The story of how she came to Kauai and joined up with KHS is delightful.
“After watching the movie ‘Blue Hawaii’ many times, she was determined to move to Kauai, which she, Bob and son Michael did, in 1988. She began working at the Kauai Historical Society that was located at the Coco Palms then, and she continued as administrative assistant, then executive director,” according to her obituary. “She supervised the society’s collections, events and publications, as well as its expansion into the Historic County Building, until her retirement. She obtained grant funding that supported staff for cataloging, video production, books and public lectures.”
Mary was replaced by Hilo’s Helen Wong Smith, a certified state archivist and librarian, a supremely talented woman with many gifts. Among her many roles, she served as archivist at Queen’s Medical Center, worked at Kamehameha Schools digitizing its historic photo collection, and worked with the National Park Service, archiving its Pacific collections. She improved the historical society’s organization and had a passion for her job but, unfortunately, likely because she didn’t live here and couldn’t attend many community events, she didn’t quite make the connections necessary to create the strong local support nonprofits need. While she gave this job 100 percent, she had to give up the role.
Today, Randy Wichman is president of the Kauai Historical Society, and Linda Moriarty is vice president. There really isn’t money for an executive director in the fashion the job was held by Requilman and Wong Smith.
Which leads us back to why KHS needs the community’s support now in its latest fundraising effort, which we fully support. They are asking for just $8,500, but that money will have an impact far beyond its monetary amount — it will help preserve records of Kauai’s history perhaps forever.
It has launched what is it calling the “Kauai Historical Society Photo Scanning Project.” Fifteen thousand photographs of Kauai have been scanned. No other institution has as many photographs of Kauai in one location. It’s pretty much an invaluable collection, but there is more to add to it. Lots more. But before that can happen, KHS needs to upgrade its equipment. Here’s what it needs: a scanner; software, new PC service, digital camera, IT support and training, and it is recruiting volunteers. Specifically, it needs the new, web-based version of “Extensis Portfolio, a digital-management software. This will improve accessibility and preserve the metadata (information embedded in photos).
KHS makes a convincing case:
“This many sound over-the-top for a small, rural island society, but the fear of losing decades of work by changing to less-expensive, less-robust software compels us to move forward with this Extensis upgrade.
“This collection needs benefactors to ensure it reaches another generation,” according to a letter signed by Wichman and Moriarty.
We couldn’t agree more. Let’s make sure Kauai’s historical photos are property preserved.
The work the Kauai Historical Society does is invaluable. Please go to www.kauaihistoricalsociety.org and give this modest fundraiser your full support. These pictures of old Kauai must live on forever.