Pan Pacific Union Records

Manuscript M003


It is not clear how the Pan Pacific Union [PPU] records came to the University of Hawaiʻi. The earliest accession records for the collection in the Archives, for “Transfer #5,” document the transfer of the PPU materials from the Hawaiian Collection in the library to the Archives. The recorded date of this transfer is November 1968, and the donor is listed as “not known.” Later records—summarizing approximately twenty transfers to the Archives—list the following donor information for Transfer #5: “Unknown: Fred Riggs from Satterthwaite estate ?” In the early 2000s the University Archivist of the time contacted the Hawaiian and Pacific Collections to request further information from their records; Ms. Joan Hori, the department chair and curator of the Hawaiian Collection, reported back that no accession records for the 1960s existed in the department.

The only Satterthwaite entered into the Deaths section of the Honolulu Newspaper Index between 1963 and 1967 is for Ann Yardley Satterthwaite, for whom obituaries appeared on October 21st, 1963 in both the Honolulu Star Bulletin and the Honolulu Advertiser. Ann Satterthwaite had served as a secretary for the Pan Pacific Union for several years. The “best guess” scenario is that she maintained the records after the demise of the Pan Pacific Union, probably in her home.

The Pan Pacific Union records are not complete. Large portions, particularly those pertaining to the 1910-1930 period and to the organization’s conferences, are missing. Local newspapers and the PPU’s own publications appear to be the only remaining sources of original information.

In the early 1970s Professor Paul Hooper of the UH American Studies department found the then-unsorted Pan Pacific Union materials in Sinclair Library. With permission from library staff, he undertook a preliminary arrangement of the jumbled documents. Although archival staff rehoused the collection, no further processing was done for several years, until 2007-2008, when Dr. Hooper volunteered in the Archives. Among other projects, Hooper weeded and reorganized the PPU materials into eight major categories: Background Materials; General Finances; Conferences; Other Programs; Publications; Correspondence; Related Activities; and Scrapbooks, Photos and Clippings. Several of these categories have sub-categories within. Generally speaking, the materials are arranged chronologically within the sub-categories and categories. While an effort was made to properly separate materials into the appropriate specific sub-categories, some overlap remains, especially in the publications and correspondence. Users should therefore read in related areas rather than narrowly under single topic sub-categories.


By Paul Hooper

During the first half of the 20th century, Hawaiʻi experienced a remarkable surge of interest in international and intercultural relations that gave rise to the creation of a number of related organizations and activities which in turn generated considerable attention abroad and periodic reference to the Islands as the “New Geneva.” The pioneer among these organizations was the Pan Pacific Union (PPU). The PPU was dedicated to establishing connections among the Pacific rim nations leading to the formation of a regional international organization akin to the Pan-American Union.1

The principal figure in the creation of the PPU was Alexander Hume Ford, an imaginative and energetic, if somewhat haphazardly organized individual who believed that multi-ethnic Hawaiʻi was a compelling model for improving relations in an increasingly interconnected world. Ford was determined to find a way to promote his belief. Buoyed by the successful launch of Mid-Pacific Magazine in 1910 as a platform for his ideas and the positive reception of a number of his inter-ethnic activities by Hawaiʻi’s social and business leaders, he founded the PPU in 1917. With the fortuitous support of a member of President Woodrow Wilson’s cabinet, enough publicity was generated that presidents, prime ministers and governors from throughout the region were willing to serve as the new group’s honorary officers, and a loose regional network of Pan-Pacific Clubs was organized. Aided by appropriations from Hawaiʻi’s territorial legislature and from the U.S. Congress, in 1920 Ford initiated the first in a series of international conferences concerned with a variety of regional issues. As Pan-Pacific clubs began to function in various areas and as conferences brought regional leaders together on matters ranging from science to women’s rights, Ford and his colleagues foresaw the realization of their internationalist dreams.

This did not occur. A combination of Ford’s lack of attention to administrative detail, inadequate long-term funding arrangements, declining governmental support (compounded within a few years by the global economic depression), and, perhaps above all, a shift in support on the part of Hawaiʻi’s socio-economic leaders from the PPU to the new Institute of Pacific Relations, resulted in the group’s slow decline. By the advent of WW II, PPU had withered into insignificance and, with Ford himself in rapidly declining health, it simply disappeared. This does not mean the PPU and Ford were at last irrelevant. As a local newspaper editorialized at the time of Ford’s death in 1946, he “did more than any other man to acquaint the whole wide world with the importance of Hawaiʻi in the Pacific theater.”2

1 For details, see Valerie Noble, Hawaiian Prophet: Alexander Hume Ford (Smithtown, NY: Exposition Press, 1980) and Paul F. Hooper, Elusive Destiny: The Internationalist Movement in Modern Hawaiʻi (Honolulu: University Press of Hawaiʻi, 1980), pp. 65-104.

2Honolulu Advertiser, 18 October 1946.

Collection Inventory (pdf file)

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