Now I am working on a related project: Hawaiian migrant labor in nineteenth-century California. And I've made some new maps. But I did not turn to Google this time. Instead I made the maps myself using the crudest of computer paint programs. And I think they turned out just perfect!
Intro to the Map Data
Readers will know that I am quite interested in censuses. I have posted three times about data on Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in the 2000 and 2010 censuses. And in a post this past winter, I wrote a bit about what it is like to come across multiple pages in the 19th-century U.S. censuses filled with nameless "Kanakas" instead of individual people with given names.
Anyway, I am now using nineteenth-century federal census schedules, along with English and Hawaiian language newspaper articles, to figure out just how many Hawaiians came to California during and after the Gold Rush, why they came, what they did in California, how they organized themselves in California, what their family lives were like, how their economic situations changed, and how many stayed on, and how many returned home to Hawaiʻi.
It is exceedingly hard to locate evidence to answer many of these questions. For example, without looking at Hawaiian Kingdom censuses as well (which I have yet to do), how can we know how many Hawaiians (and which ones) returned home from California, when they returned, and what they returned to? We have qualitative data in the English and Hawaiian language newspapers about individual travelers, but less aggregate data about all travelers. (Although there are some files in Honolulu that will help shed light on this problem once I get there to do my research.)
Similarly, the available data only provides glimpses into the complex lives of the hundreds of Hawaiians who traveled to, lived in, and worked in California in the nineteenth century. For example, federal censuses in 1850, 1860, and 1870 catch the U.S. population at a glance, during one particular moment in time once every ten years. But how many Hawaiians came and went to and through California between those moments? The censuses cannot tell us that information. A huge problem exists in making sense of San Francisco for example, where, not only were the records for 1850 destroyed by fire, but where tens of thousands of people passed through in the 1850s, during the Gold Rush, but may not have actually been there in either 1850 or 1860 when a census was taken. (Note that the state of California also took its own census in 1852, but I have not used that data.) I have read in a few books that in the decade before the Gold Rush that Yerba Buena (what would become the city of San Francisco) had a rather large Hawaiian population. And it stands to reason that as San Francisco became the preeminent maritime port for passengers and cargo in the 1850s, that hundreds of Hawaiian sailors working on American ships would have spent at least some time there. But no hard data on these numbers exist.
What is necessary is to compare the available census data from each decade (1850, 1860, and 1870) with the qualitative data, to see if the stories reflected in both censuses and newspapers match up. If Hawaiians were saying that there were X number of people living in Y region in the year 1858, do we see any remnant of that in 1860?
This post does not intend to take the analysis of the census data to that level. That awaits the dissertation. For now, I just want to share my maps!
How the Maps were Made
It's actually quite simple. I used websites such as FamilySearch and Ancestry.com to locate all people 1) born in the "Sandwich Islands," or derivative names such as "S Islands," "Sandwich Isles," "Hawaiian Islands," "Hawaii," "Oahu," "Honolulu," etc., and 2) residing in California. This search, within the federal censuses of 1850, 1860, and 1870 (I am now working on 1880, but that data is not included here), provided hundreds of search results. But not all were what I was looking for.
For you see, even as early as 1850, but more so as the decades progressed, there were non-Hawaiian people who were born in Hawaiʻi who lived in California. These people are not ethnically Hawaiian, yet they show up in my search results. If I was interested in mapping all people "born in Hawaiʻi" who lived in California, then my job would be much easier. I could accept all the data. But I am actually interested in only mapping those people who are Native Hawaiian (Kanaka Maoli), not just anyone born in Hawaiʻi.
It is actually quite hard to determine who was ethnically Hawaiian, and who was haole (a foreigner). In the 1880 data we have the benefit of seeing the birthplace of each individual's father and mother. If both father and mother were born elsewhere (not in Hawaiʻi), but the individual was born in Hawaiʻi, we can safely assume (with a minor margin of error, of course) that the person was not ethnically Hawaiian. For if he or she was, it would mean that at least one of his or her parents had to have been Hawaiian. And if our person X was born circa 1860, then their parents would have been circa 1840 or earlier, and it was exceedingly rare for an ethnically Hawaiian person to be born in the United States that early. Don't get me wrong — it happened. But it is so rare that we can at least use this crude way of determining Hawaiian vs. haole to get at least close to the data that we seek to find.
In 1870, the census only lists if a person's parents were of foreign birth or not, not where his or her parents were born. So we can perform the same trick with this data, but it is that much harder. I feel like I came across many entries in 1870 where simply because the person was born in the "Sandwich Islands," his or her parents were naturally assumed to also be of foreign birth. This even happened with little haole kids born to American parents in Hawaiʻi. The parents were listed right above the child, and yet still the child was listed as having two "foreign" parents. Were these mistakes? Instances of a hurried and tired census enumerator just checking the "foreign parent" boxes whenever someone was born abroad? Or were these actually ethnically Hawaiian children adopted by white American families? There is no good way to tell, but generally if the child was listed as belonging to two white parents, and it was a somewhat nuclear family household, I assumed the child was haole. There are some cases however, where a family has many, many children, from all over the world. In some cases I have determined based on the evidence that Native Hawaiian children were in fact living in these households, apparently as adoptees, but also sometimes as servant girls and servant boys.
In the 1850 and 1860 censuses, there is no information on parentage. So how can we know if someone born in Hawaiʻi was actually Native Hawaiian? Again we can see who these individuals live with. Young children born in Hawaiʻi to American parents are again assumed to be haole. But there is also a "race" or "color" category on these federal censuses that can be used, but with extreme caution. In the early censuses the "color" options were "white," "black," and "mulatto." Almost all Hawaiians in 1850 and 1860 were either recored as "white" or their race was not recorded at all. In 1860, though, there are a handful of "black" Hawaiians, "mulatto" Hawaiians, and "Indian" Hawaiians, but I have not yet analyzed this data. Keep in mind that census enumerators (most likely Euro-American men) went around and collected this information. They were the ones deciding what "race" or "color" people were. Only in the 1870 and 1880 censuses did the "races" become more defined, with five options: "white," "black," "mulatto," "Chinese," and "Indian." Here we find most Hawaiians still listed as "white," but also some "blacks," "mulattos," and "Indians," plus made-up categories such as "Col" for "Colored," "P" for "Polynesian"(?), and "K" for "Kanaka"(?). If the enumerator labeled the person as anything other than "white," we can assume that he or she was ethnically Hawaiian — at least part-Hawaiian. Only in the "white" cases do we have to look closer, although most are, I believe, just as "Hawaiian" as the "black" and "mulatto" Hawaiians were. (As a side note, I have read in some historians' accounts that Hawaiians were at times racialized as "Chinese" on the U.S. west coast. I find this very interesting, but I have never found evidence of such practices in the censuses. FamilySearch and Ancestry.com will sometimes label these people as "Chinese" in their digitization of the records, but if you examine the actual manuscript schedules it is clear that census enumerators were using the label "C" under race to mean "Colored" for these men and women. There is always some extra note somewhere on the ledger specifying these men as "Natives," "Islanders," or "Kanakas.")
Another complicating factor is how to locate, and how to count, people of mixed heritage. In Hawaiʻi, people of mixed European and Hawaiian descent are sometimes called hapa haole, which roughly translates as "half white." For my purposes, anyone of any Native Hawaiian descent in nineteenth-century California should be classified as Hawaiian. There are two reasons for this. One, because when these people lived and worked in California, if they were even part-Hawaiian, or looked part-Hawaiian, they were considered "colored," just as people of African descent in the United States, even if only marginally African, were considered "colored" (the so-called "one drop rule"). There is a conflict between this assertion and the prevalence of "white" Hawaiians in the censuses, but I can't work that out right now. My evidence here is rather anecdotal, such as in the case of William Heath Davis, a famous hapa haole Hawaiian who pioneered early California. In the censuses he is consistently labeled as "white," and in 1880 he lists both of his parents' birthplaces as in the United States (which I think is true), but in fact he was 1/4 Native Hawaiian (his mother was half-Hawaiian), and Davis could never shake the nickname given to him by whites in California: "Kanaka Bill." From what I have gathered, he tried to "pass" as white his entire life, but some people continued to see him as "Kanaka." Incidentally, he had a fair number of 1/8-Hawaiian kids in California. I have also counted them as "Hawaiian" in my data. It is not up to historians to say who was "really" Hawaiian or not. One's identity is a form of expression governed by one's self, and one's self only. Davis may have struggled with his "Kanaka" identity for his entire life, but for our purposes it is best to include him and his offspring as Hawaiians. My job as the historian is simply to weed out the absolutely not-Hawaiian people from the 1-100% otherwise Hawaiian people who may or may not have identified, or been identified, as "Kanakas" at the time.
My second point here is that by the period 1850-1880, there had only been one or two generations of intermarriage between Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians (actually probably more, especially the bastard children of haole sailors from the late 18th and early 19th centuries), so there is a good sense that most of the people coming from Hawaiʻi to California during this period were either fully Native Hawaiian, half-Hawaiian, or fully haole, but with little wiggle-room in between these categories — or at least less wiggle-room than exists today. (1/4-Hawaiian William Heath Davis was, I believe, the exception to this rule.) For my data, I have assumed that every non-haole Hawaiian arriving in California during this period was 100% Hawaiian, unless I knew more information such as with Davis. This has allowed me to at least try to map out the Hawaiian children born in California as well. I have not found as many California-born Hawaiian people during this period (1850-1880) as I assume actually were born, but I have found at least 60-70 kids overall, and I have been able to guess how many of them were fully Hawaiian, hapa haole, half-Native American, 1/4-Hawaiian, and so on, to the best of my ability.
I could actually go on and on about the caveats with this data, and I encourage readers to comment and let me know how to improve this methodology, or at least we can discuss all that is so problematic about it, especially when it comes down to things like determining who was "really" Hawaiian or not.
So, in summary, I threw out all the suspected haole from my search results and I have mapped the remainder. There are two ways to map this data: 1) to map all the people born in Hawaiʻi living in California at any given time, or 2) to map all the Hawaiian people in California at any given time. The latter option means including the California-born children of Hawaiian parentage. The amount of children is statistically insignificant for 1850 and 1860, so I have only made the latter type of map for the 1870 data.
Now How the Maps were REALLY Made...
I thought of using some fancy GIS software for this, but then decided against it. The most important reason against using GIS is that the county-level data I am working with do not conform to today's modern political geography. California counties have changed shape and size over time, especially during the period 1850 to 1880, so I had to in fact create new base line maps that would take into account the changing shape of these counties. (The other reason I do county-level data here is because the town/city-level data is unreliable for the earlier periods [1850 and 1860]. And although it is quite good for the 1870 and 1880 data, of course counties are easier to see on an entire map of California than small townships are. So I went with county-level data for my maps.)
I downloaded a base "California counties" map from Wikimedia Commons, and started messing around with it. It turned out to be pretty easy to reshape the counties with my computer's paint tools. (Although, note that I did not change the borders of a county unless there was data to plot for that county.) To show my data I needed a color scheme, and I decided that I would use a red color gradient, from light to dark, to show population density for each county. My data ranged from N=1 to N=113, and I had to round things off at both extremes. N=113 became 100% on my color gradient, and N=1 through N=5 were all mapped as 5% on my color gradient because if I made it any lighter it could hardly be seen. Since most counties usually had anywhere between 1 and 5 Hawaiians living there at any given time, these small differences are unfortunately lost in the maps. But how can you show the difference between 1 and 5 when you need to show the difference between 1 and 113, as well?
Again, there are a lot of problems with these maps, but I have become tired of explaining away my problems and my inadequate solutions to them! So, without further ado, presenting...
1850: Total Number of Hawaiians = 230
(including California-born children = 235)
(Remember that the data for San Francisco County was destroyed by fire, and there were probably scores of Hawaiians living and working there in 1850.)
The top county here is Sutter County, with 113 Hawaiians.
(including California-born children = 76)
The top county here is El Dorado County, with 28 Hawaiians.
1870: Total Number of Hawaiians = 140
(including California-born children = 205)
The top county here is San Francisco County, with 23 Hawaiians.
Here is 1870 mapped WITH CHILDREN, adding 65 people to the data.
1870: Total Number of Hawaiians (including California-born children) = 205
The top county here is still San Francisco County, now with 40 Hawaiians.
I hope you found these maps interesting. Please leave me a comment if you have any particular questions or comments regarding these maps or the methodology I have used, or if there are other types of mappings of Hawaiian history that you would like to see. If I have the data, I am open to mapping it.
My final thought here is just how incredibly small these numbers are. From newspaper sources, it is clear that many Hawaiians who traveled to California became sick and died, but also some lucky ones were able to return home; both of these instances would mean taking numbers away from the California census data. This might suggest that most of the Hawaiians we see each decade (1850, 1860, 1870, etc.) are new names and faces, and that there was quite a bit of migration in and out of California during these decades that is unaccounted for in the censuses. If so, then we can easily imagine that the total number of Hawaiians who ever lived in California during the period 1850-1880 was in the high hundreds if not over one thousand. Or perhaps many thousands! We just don't know. The total Hawaiian population (as counted in Hawaiʻi) was about 70-80,000 in 1850, and 65,000 in 1860. That number descended to about 40,000 in 1890. So even if we assume that there were 300 Hawaiians in California in 1850, that would be only 0.4% of the total Hawaiian population. Yet if we half the population and take only Hawaiian men (for in 1850 over 95% of Hawaiian migrants to California were male), then California-resident Hawaiians comprised 0.8% of the male population. Taking into account that thousands of other Hawaiians were at the same time serving aboard American whaling ships, etc., and others were in Oregon and elsewhere in the United States, in fact maybe 5% (N=2,000) or more of Hawaiian men were not in Hawaiʻi in 1850, and thus the migration to California was hard felt as part of a larger pattern of outmigration (as evidenced in newspapers and government documents from the period).
Today, more Pacific Islander Americans live in California than in Hawaiʻi, and that may or may not hold true specifically for Native Hawaiians as well. Hundreds of thousands of people of Hawaiian ancestry live in California today, compared to just hundreds back then. And yet in some ways, the couple of hundreds of Hawaiians in California during the Gold Rush era were more remarked upon by the general public than today's hundreds of thousands of Hawaiians. The change in numbers, though, is staggering. To think that there are more Hawaiians in California today than there were in all of Hawaiʻi one hundred and fifty years ago! That's crazy! Or to think that there are more Native Hawaiians in a private correctional facility in Eloy, Arizona today (N=932) than there ever were at any one time in the entire state of California in the entire nineteenth century! That's also crazy.
Emigration and diaspora remain important concerns of the lāhui Hawaiʻi (the Hawaiian nation) to this day. I hope that my dissertation research on nineteenth-century Hawaiian migrant labor can help add to this conversation.