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An American Girl in the Hawaiian Islands

An American Girl in the Hawaiian Islands: Letters of Carrie Prudence Winter, 1890-1893

Sandra Bonura
Deborah Day
Foreword by C. Kalani Beyer
Copyright Date: 2012
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  • Book Info
    An American Girl in the Hawaiian Islands
    Book Description:

    The book consists of selected and edited letters from Hawai’i during the revolution period (1890-1893) by Carrie Prudence Winter (1866-1942), a young missionary teacher at Kawaiaha’o Seminary in Honolulu describing in great detail the operation of the Seminary, the lives of the Hawaiian girls there, and her experiences in Hawai’i. Miss Winter listed all of her Hawaiian students, and the Who’s Who appendix identifies them and other individuals mentioned in the book. The book also reproduces some examples of student homework, including 4 autobiographical essays by children she taught. This book includes a foreword by Dr. C. Kalani Beyer, Kamehameha School graduate, a noted scholar in the history of Hawai’i and education. It includes a hand drawn map by the renowned artist, Barron Storey. The book is profusely illustrated by original photographs, most of which have never before been published.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-3722-8
    Subjects: History, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-IV)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. V-VI)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. VII-VIII)
  4. Foreword Providing a Context for An American Girl in the Hawaiian Islands
    (pp. IX-XIV)
    C. Kalani Beyer

    An American Girl in the Hawaiian Islandsprovides a means for the reader to understand the history of Hawai‘i from the perspective of a teacher who was born in the United States who moved to the Islands to teach Hawaiian girls for three years. Contextualizing this history helps the reader understand the experiences Carrie Winter shares, including her work with Hawaiian girls, the political atmosphere, and her social outings with other prominent citizens of Hawai‘i. More successfully than most non-western societies during the nineteenth century, Hawai‘i was transformed into a modern nation and education played a primary role in this...

  5. Note on Transcription and Research
    (pp. XV-XX)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. XXI-XXXV)

    When an old house in Berkeley, California, passed from one generation to the next, it needed a new roof. That construction project revealed five old trunks in the attic that had been forgotten for more than a century. Four of the trunks contained valuable scientific research records, correspondence, photograph albums, old newspaper clippings, and more. The late professor who had owned the home had been an internationally known scientist, so University of California archivists sought the collection for its value to the history of science. When the last trunk was opened, it contained an unexpected gift, anextraordinary surprise.


  7. 1 An American Girl in the Hawaiian Islands August 15, 1890
    (pp. 1-13)

    It did seem a wild thing to do, to hasten from one’s great gala day, commencement to the Sandwich Islands.¹ But then I had been guilty of strange things before. This going five or six hundred miles to attend a co-educational college, in the day of it, had been counted strange. But that was long passed now and because I could not carry out my early wishes to be a missionary this teaching for a few years among the Sandwich Islands seemed particularly attractive. Several of our graduates had gone to the islands to teach and there were a few...

  8. 2 FIRST IMPRESSIONS August 29–October 26, 1890
    (pp. 14-44)

    Let me see if I can begin to remember all the new things—the banana trees, every house has them, there are whole plantations of them out toward the ocean, some continue growing, year in and out, while others simply spring up, bear a bunch, and die. The palms were the next most noticeable—some they say are 200 years old. They seem to have peculiar charm for me with their tall trunks and plumy tops. I learned to distinguish the coconut palm from the date palm, the royal, fan and wine palm. I know too the Algarroba tree, fine...

  9. 3 Meeting Royalty November 16–December 21, 1890
    (pp. 45-65)

    Charlie, I am a very exalted personage—this last week I have hobnobbed with royalty so you may expect this letter to have a very aristocratic flavor. There is a very handsome lady visiting here now from California and Mrs. Dominis¹ has made considerable of her and last Monday told her to invite a party and she would show them over the palace. We were all invited and at 10:30 left our posts of duty. I think there must have been 40 or 50 people there.

    We paid our respects to Mrs. Dominis in the throne room in a long...

  10. 4 The King Is Dead January 12–April 15, 1891
    (pp. 66-100)

    The term has opened well and I think I can honestly say I have a little more hold on my girls. My room is full, every seat taken and on account of the numbers and the shortness of the time, it makes rapid work necessary in order to accomplish anything.

    Your last letter was so full of such good advice I suppose because you know me so well you know just what I will do in a given situation, dearest boy to think I have such a treasure as you! My heart goes out to you especially tonight. What a...

  11. 5 Leprosy and Other Ailments April 26–July 17, 1891
    (pp. 101-120)

    Miss Pope and Miss Hoppin have a novel experience in store for them. They are going to start tonight with the Queen for Molokai and return tomorrow night. I quite envy them the chance. I don’t suppose I could have gone anyway and I knew nothing about it till after they had obtained her consent. They had quite a time with the Board of Health from whom they had to obtain their “permits.” They objected and went to see the Queen and only brought them around at the last thing, last night.

    The Queen is visiting different parts of her...

  12. 6 Maui Summer July 17–August 30, 1891
    (pp. 121-136)

    I have been getting my outfit for my Maui expedition. I hope nothing will happen to make it fall through. I am to ride astride and have made myself a dress for the occasion. It is the kind of cloth that overalls are made of only it is pretty for it is a fine stripe of brown and blue. There is a blouse waist and a full skirt rather short. I did not make a divided skirt because I have to wear the dress in camp and as well as on horseback and there are some men in the party....

  13. 7 Back To School September 6, 1891–January 15, 1892
    (pp. 137-164)

    The last steamer brought our 3 new teachers. I have been matron and with so few girls to work, have had my hands full.¹ Miss Appleton came back yesterday and we are all ready for the start tomorrow morning and we have got our hands full too.

    We are very much disappointed in our teachers and we fear what lies before us through them. Miss Harris is all right. She is the one to take Miss Davis’s place and Miss Pope knew her well before. She is supporting two sisters in Oberlin. She has been teaching 4 yrs. and really...

  14. 8 Politics and Punishment February 2–April 10, 1892
    (pp. 165-186)

    I have a number of interesting things to write you about and if you please my dear, I’ll begin on politics. They are great fun here. Once in two years there is an election here and the last one took place last Wednesday. Each island is divided into sections which send one representative to the legislature. There are 8 sections on this island and I don’t know about the others. Certain 6 year, 4 year, and 2 year nobles were also to be elected. Well for months the “Liberals” have had their candidates out and have been stumping all the...

  15. 9 Riding Mattie May 1–June 26, 1892
    (pp. 187-203)

    My horse is back. You can’t think how badly I felt over it. I said to myself “I don’t quite think Carl approves of your getting that horse and now if you have lost her out right he won’t love you anymore and he will say ‘I’ll not give her a chance to lose $60 for me.’” But she is back, Carl. She had wandered 6 or 7 miles to Manoloa into a native man’s place. He saw the advertisement in the paper and brought her back. I paid him $5.

    Perhaps, dearie, you don’t like these details but they...

  16. 10 Big Island Summer July 3–August 26, 1892
    (pp. 204-225)

    I left you last Tuesday morning, finishing my packing with the aid of dear little Zelie.¹ Word came to me indirectly at lunch time that Mr. Oliver Emerson was going on the trip also. At the last moment he rushed aboard with his arms full of papers.

    I must tell you a little about him. I have known him slightly ever since I have been here. He is one you are likely to meet. He is a minister, about 45 yrs. old and holds under the A.B.C.F.M. a kind of general superintendence over the native churches. I think the families...

  17. 11 The Queen in Crisis September 4–October 23, 1892
    (pp. 226-240)

    What a country this is! Of course you know the country is on the verge of bankruptcy and that there is little prospect of relief and now comes Satan in the form of a branch of the Louisiana Lottery and last week this proposal was made in the legislature: “If you will let us come here and establish our lottery, exempt us from taxation and give us free use of the mails for 25 yrs. we will give to your government $500,000 a year $75,000 for the new cable, a lot for Pearl Harbor and a number of other appropriations...

  18. 12 Down with Malaria November 9–December 25, 1892
    (pp. 241-255)

    I knew you would worry if I didn’t write and I suppose when I tell you I have a light attack of fever, you will anyway.¹ Well dear, don’t any more than you can help, and hold on for just a week and you are sure to hear that I am well. It began Saturday. The doctor says it may last a week. Miss Pope is kind and I have perfect confidence in Doctor Andrews. Last night I slept the best. In the morning is my best time. During the day I am unhappy. I have no pain. These fevers...

  19. 13 The Revolution January 1–March 19, 1893
    (pp. 256-284)

    So you see at last this year has come to its opening. I suppose in many, many lives it has been the year of promise for a long time. How many have we heard say, “I will do this and so when ’93 comes.” Even for me, it must contain trial, disappointment and weariness, but I must confess my hopes and anticipations are high. It seems to me no year will ever come that will contain more variety of happiness. I expect the happiness of becoming your wife, but there are many other precious joys to look forward too. I...

  20. 14 Homeward Bound April 1–June 13, 1893
    (pp. 285-302)

    I am coming to the conclusion that love letters are not all they sometimes are claimed to be. What dry bones they are! I want something infinitely better. I am not at all satisfied with these paper sentiments, are you? Let’s raise a revolt, let’s strike, have a Revolution or something.

    I’m not so tired as I was a month ago tonight. I had Bible lesson tonight. I think my last one. I was glad it was the Easter lesson for it means so much to me. The girls were very quiet and attentive. 53 of the girls have gone...

  21. Afterword
    (pp. 303-308)

    At long last, Carrie Prudence Winter became Mrs. Charles Atwood Kofoid on June 30, 1894. She was married by her father at the family home in Connecticut and soon dropped the name Carrie. She took her middle name and became Prudence W. Kofoid. Carrie Winter, the schoolteacher, was forever left behind in Honolulu, and it was Prudence Kofoid who stepped forward to begin an energetic life as the wife of a distinguished university professor.

    After the wedding, the couple went to the University of Michigan, where Charlie served as instructor in vertebrate morphology for one year. They then moved to...

  22. Appendix: Who’s Who in Miss Winter’s Letters
    (pp. 309-391)
  23. Credits
    (pp. 392-392)
  24. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 393-408)
  25. Index
    (pp. 409-417)
  26. Back Matter
    (pp. 418-421)