Selections from the Theodore Kelsey Manuscript Collection
Theodore Kelsey was born on August 4, 1891 in Seattle, Washington to Helen Lucy and Henry Evelyn Kelsey. In 1895, at the age of four years old, Theodore and his mother moved to the island of Kauaʻi where Helen had obtained a teaching job at Hanamalu, Kauaʻi–her brother, William Ira Wells was principal at the school. Henry Kelsey joined the two on Kauaʻi in 1897.
As a teen, Theodore developed an interest in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian language) and began to teach himself from a Hawaiian-Japanese-English phrase book he had obtained. In 1908, he left Hawaiʻi to attend the New Mexico Military Institute at Roswell, New Mexico. During his first summer away he traveled by train to the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Seattle after which he sailed to Honolulu to visit his parents. While in the Islands, he bicycled around Oʻahu and Hawaiʻi Island, taking photographs. The following summer he visited Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. For the next six years, he attended a number of schools including: Agassiz School; Cambridge Latin School; Horton Collegiate-where he graduated; Acadia Collegiate Academy in Nova Scotia. In 1916, he graduated from the Illinois College of Photography. He returned to Hawaiʻi in 1917 at age 25.
From 1918-1927, Kelsey worked as a photographer in a home studio his father had constructed for him in Hilo. Having remained passionate about mea Hawaiʻi (things Hawaiian), he was part of a push to create a historical commission in Hawaiʻi that resulted in the 1921 Hawaiian Territorial Legislature passing Acts 61 and 126 to found the Hawaiian Legends and Folklore Commission. In 1923-24, Kelsey worked with Padraic Colum transcribing and republishing Hawaiian legends. He also worked with Helen Roberts to record Hawaiian chants of the past; that work produced the 1926 publication, Ancient Hawaiian Music. In 1927, Kelsey worked with George P. Kalama recording chants and began teaching Hawaiian language. From 1933-1936, he recorded and transcribed Hawaiian chants and histories from James P. Kuluwaimaka and others at George P. Mossmanʻs Lalani Hawaiian Village.
From 1936-1939 Kelsey worked at the Public Archives of Hawaiʻi alongside Henry E. P. Kekahuna and others. The Hawaiian cosmogonic genealogy, Kumulipo, became a focus of his work and interest. In 1949 he was appointed to a committee working to produce a Hawaiian-English dictionary. The work was published in 1957 as the Pukui-Elbert Hawaiian-English Dictionary. In 1956, Kelsey and Kekahuna were awarded the inaugural David Malo Award from the East Honolulu Hawaiian Civic Club. In 1957, the pair conducted a historical survey of the island of Kauaʻi and the following year they mapped historical sites on Hawaiʻi Island.
In 1958 Kelsey married Mrs. Esther Kaikai Kanoa Kalaukoa; widow of John Kaipo Kalaukoa. His bride passed in 1960. In 1977, Theodore Kelsey was declared a “Living Treasure of Hawaii” by the Honpa Hongwanji Mission. In 1980, he received a certificate of appreciation from Alu Like for a lifetime of service to the Hawaiian community. In 1982, Brigham Young University-Hawaiʻi bestowed on Kelsey the “Na Makua Mahalo ʻIa” award. Theodore Kelsey died in Waiʻānae on February 13, 1987.
The papers presented below are selections from the Theodore Kelsey Manuscript Collection (Series M86) at the Hawaiʻi State Archives. The papers are in two categories: M86-17, Papers relating to chants, and M86-18, Papers relating to Hawaiian Songs. The records are presented as PDFs that can be downloaded.
NĀ KOHO NO LOKO MAI O KA WAIHONA PALAPALA A THEODORE KELSEY
Hānau ʻia ʻo Theodore Kelsey i ʻAukake 4, 1891 i Seattle, Wakinekona he kama na Helen Lucy lāua ʻo Henry Evelyn Kelsey. I 1895, i ka piha ʻana he ʻehā makahiki, neʻe ʻo Theodore me kona makuahine i ka mokupuni o Kauaʻi kahi a Helen i kiʻi ai he hana aʻo ma Hanamāʻulu, Kauaʻi. ʻO kona kaikunāne hoʻi, ʻo William Ira Wells, ke poʻokumu o ke kula. Noho pū ʻo Henry Kelsey me lāua ma Kauaʻi i 1897.
I kona wā ʻōpio, ʻulu aʻe ka hoi a Theodore i ka ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi a hoʻomaka ia e aʻo iā ia iho mai kekahi puke poke ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi-Kepanī-Pelekāne āna i kiʻi ai. I 1908 haʻalele ʻo ia iā Hawaiʻi no ka hele ʻana i ke Kula Hana Kaua Mekiko Hou i Roswell, Mekiko Hou. Ma kona hoʻomaha kau wela mua ua kau kaʻa ahi ʻo ia i ka Hōʻikeʻike Aleseka-Yukon-Pākīpika i Seattle a ma hope aku kele ʻo ia i Honolulu e kipa aku ai i ona mau mākua. I kona wā ma ka pae ʻāina, kaʻapuni ʻo ia iā Oʻahu me Hawaiʻi ma luna paikikala, e paʻi kiʻi ana. I ke kau wela ma hope mai kipa ʻo ia iā Ciudad Juarez, Mekiko. Ma waena o nā makahiki ʻeono ma hope mai, komo ʻo ia i mau kula like ʻole: Ke Kula Agassiz; Ke Kula Lākina Cambridge; Ke Kula Nui Horton-ma laila ʻo ia i puka kula; Ke Kula o Acadia i Nova Scotia. I 1916, puka kula ʻo ia mai ke Kula Nui ʻo Illinois no ka Paʻikiʻi ʻana. Hoʻi hou ʻo ia i Hawaiʻi i 1917 i kona piha ʻana 25 makahiki.
Mai 1918-1927, he paʻi kiʻi ʻo Kelsey ma ke keʻena paʻi kiʻi a kona makuakāne i kūkulu ai nona i Hilo. ʻO ia mau nō kona konikoni i nā mea Hawaiʻi, he hapa ʻo ia na ka poʻe e paikūkulu ana i komikina moʻolelo ma Hawaiʻi me ka hopena ua hoʻoholo ʻia e ka ʻAhaʻōlelo Kelikoli Hawaiʻi 1921 nā kānāwai 61 me 126 e kūkulu ai i Komikina Kaʻao me Moʻolelo Hawaiʻi. I 1923-24, hana ʻo Kelsey me Padraic Colum e palapala a paʻi ana i nā kaʻao Hawaiʻi. Hana pū ia me Helen Roberts e hoʻopaʻa leo ana i nā oli Hawaiʻi a ke au i hala; pēia nō i mōhala ai ka pukepaʻi 1926, ʻo Mele Hawaiʻi Kahiko. I 1927, hoʻopaʻa leo ʻo Kelsey i ka oli ʻana a George P. Kalama a hoʻomaka ia e aʻo aku i ka ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi. Mai 1933-1936, hoʻopaʻa a palapala ʻo ia i nā oli me nā moʻolelo Hawaiʻi mai iā James P. Kuluwaimaka me haʻi ma ke Kūlanakauhale Hawaiʻi ʻo Lālani o George P. Mossman.
Mai 1936-1939 hana ʻo Kelsey ma ka Waihona Palapala Kahiko Kaiāulu Hawaiʻi me Henry E. P. Kekahuna a me kekahi poʻe ē aʻe. ʻO ke koʻihonua moʻokūʻauhau Hawaiʻi, ʻo Kumulipo, ka mea koʻikoʻi nō iā ia. I 1949 hoʻokohu ʻia ʻo ia ma ke kōmike e hoʻokumu i puke wehewehe ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi-ʻŌlelo Pelekane. Paʻi ʻia ma ka makahiki 1957 ma ka inoa o Ka Puke Wehewehe ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi-ʻŌlelo Pelekane a Pukui-Elbert. I 1956, makana ʻia ʻo Kelsey lāua ʻo Kekahuna i ka Makana Hoʻohanohano ʻo Davida Malo mua mai ka Hui Kīwila Hawaiʻi – Honolulu Hikina. I 1957, palapala lāua i nā wahi pana o ka Moku o Kauaʻi a i ka makahiki ma hope mai palapala ʻāina lākou i nā wahi pana ma ka Moku o Hawaiʻi.
I 1958 male ʻo Kelsey iā Mrs. Esther Kaikai Kanoa Kalaukoa; ka wahine kāne make o John Kaipo Kalaukoa. Hala hele loa kāna wahine i 1960. I 1977, hoʻohanohano ʻia ʻo Theodore Kelsey he “Mea Ola Makamae o Hawaiʻi” e ka Honpa Hongwanji Mission. I 1980, makana ʻia ʻo ia he palapala mahalo na Alu Like no kona kūlana kākoʻo i ke kaiāulu Hawaiʻi no kona ola ʻokoʻa. I 1982, makana ʻia ʻo Kelsey ka makana “Nā Mākua Mahalo ʻIa” e Ke Kula Nui ʻo Brigham Young-Hawaiʻi. Hala i ka polikua a Kāne ʻo Theodore Kelsey i Waiʻānae ma 13 Pepeluali 1987.
ʻO nā palapala ma lalo iho he mau koho no loko mai o ka ʻOhina Palapala a Theodore Kelsey (Helu kuhi M86) ma ka Waihona Palapala Aupuni o ka Mokuʻāina. Aia ma ʻelua māhele: M86-17, Nā Palapala pili Oli Hawaiʻi, me M86-18, Nā Palapala pili Mele Hawaiʻi. Hoʻolele ʻia nā palapala ma ke ʻano he mau PDF i hiki ke hoʻoili ʻia.
See also other Archives Month 2021 Exhibitions / E nānā i nā Hōʻikeʻike Malama Akewika 2021 ʻē aʻe:
[Ref No. KAHN] Mele Selections from the Paul Markham Kahn Collection