The National Archives in Hawaii

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After the passage of the Federal Records Act of 1950, San Francisco was one of first three locations across the country to get a Federal Records Center (FRC). FRCs were essentially large warehouses for storing, servicing, and screening records that had to be preserved for a time but were no longer in active use by agencies. The General Services Administration (GSA), which at the time oversaw the National Archives, rented a facility downtown San Francisco while permanent space was sought. 

In 1954, the GSA and the National Archives decided FRC space was needed in Hawaii. A survey revealed that civilian agencies had more than 340,000 cubic feet of records in Honolulu alone. At the suggestion of Archivist of the United States Wayne Grover, they opened an annex to the San Francisco FRC at the Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu to better serve the islands, and save on storing and shipping costs. (In 2010, the base merged with the Naval Station Pearl Harbor and is now Joint Base Pearl Harbor–Hickam.)

All correspondence was sent to a post office box. At the time, Hawaii was not yet a state, which is why the address was Honolulu, T.H. (Territory of Hawaii). 

In 1956, the FRC moved to a new location at 595 Ala Moana Boulevard. This was a former detention building for the Immigration and Naturalization Service. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places. It was designed to receive immigrants arriving by ship to the islands, and also served as a processing place for Japanese American internment during World War II.

Yan Jim Lum was the chief of the Records Center. Lum was born in Hawaii to Chinese parents in 1918. After serving in World War II, he earned a history degree from University of Hawaii and began working for GSA.  

The Archives foray into Hawaii was short-lived, however. In 1964, the Honolulu annex was closed, and all records were consolidated into the San Francisco FRC. After the records center closed, Yan Jim Lum stayed on with GSA and later moved to Yorba Linda, California. He passed away in 2000.

One thought on “The National Archives in Hawaii

  1. I’m searching for reproduceable photos of World War II in Honolulu, Hawaii, especially the Chinatown red light-district. Can you offer some direction?

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