Hawaii's War Years, 1941-1945 (book)

Title Hawaii's War Years, 1941–1945
Author Gwenfread Allen
Original Publisher University of Hawaii Press
Original Publication Date 1950
Awards 1950 Book Award, Friends of the Library of Hawai'i
WorldCat Link http://www.worldcat.org/title/hawaiis-war-years-1941-1945-prepared-under-the-direction-of-the-hawaii-war-records-committee-of-the-university-of-hawaii/

A history of wartime Hawai'i based on the materials in the Hawaii War Records Depository . In April of 1943, the Hawai'i Territorial Legislature passed a joint resolution designating the University of Hawai'i as the official depository of material related to Hawai'i's war experience. As a result of this legislation, the Hawaii War Records Depository was established as a collection of archival materials at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa that documents life in Hawai'i during World War II. In May of 1947, the territorial legislature empowered the University's Board of Regents to publish a history of Hawai'i's contribution to the war. Under this mandate Gwenfread Allen wrote Hawaii's War Years, 1941-1945 .

Book and Author Overview

Following her graduation from the University of Hawai'i in 1924, Allen spent more than twenty-five years in newspaper journalism before being asked to write Hawaii's War Years , which she completed in two years. [1] Prior to writing Hawaii's War Years , which won the Book Award for 1950 from the Friends of the Library of Hawai'i, Allen had joined the territorial office of the war manpower commission as an information representative; in February 1946 she was named public relations director of the Honolulu Community Chest. [2] Her considerable journalism experience made her an ideal candidate to begin writing on the extensive research material collected by the War Records Depository.

Divided into seven sections, Hawaii's War Years begins with the bombing of Pearl Harbor, reflects upon the preparation undertaken by military and civilian authorities prior to the attack, and subsequently discusses an account of Hawai'i during the war. The majority of the book beginning with the "Bombs Fall" section and detailed in "Gateway to Battle" through "Exigencies of War" focuses on the unique circumstances Islanders faced under martial law and the arrival of an unprecedented number of military and civilian personnel. Writing in a "clear and understandable fashion" in this "competent factual summary" Allen provides a detailed description of the effects of war on the social structure of Hawai'i that became the center of American operations in the Pacific as it played a critical military role in the preparation, mobilization, deployment, recovery, and eventual return of demobilized troops. Additionally, Allen also describes the transformative impact the war would have on particular populations in the Islands including Japanese Americans. [3] Once suspected as saboteurs who contributed to the Pearl Harbor attack and later celebrated as soldiers in highly decorated segregated military units, Japanese Americans would be transformed by their war experience both in the Islands and abroad resulting in the final section entitled, "Dawn of a New Era."

Reaction and Impact

Published in 1950, Hawaii's War Years was positively received by many reviewers including Ernest Beaglehole who noted that "it is difficult to overpraise this book." [4] Reviewer F.C. Jones noted that this book would "remain an authoritative and standard work on the Hawaiian Islands during the war," as it provides incredible detail in describing the myriad of unique changes affecting Hawai'i and its people during World War II. [5] With unprecedented access to information and over 145 illustrations, this book is densely packed with information that Allen also organizes in a chronology for readers at the end. However, one major drawback for future researchers noted by reviewer Earl Pomeroy is the lack of footnotes despite the inclusion of a bibliography to help guide scholars in accessing information in the Hawaii War Records Depository that was the basis of this book. Perhaps this oversight may be due to the fact that the collection was processed only in 2009 although an original cataloging scheme had been established consisting of seventy-three major headings, further subdivided by subheadings where necessary. Nonetheless, over half a century later, this book still represents the authoritative overview of Hawai'i's war experience.

Authored by Kelli Y. Nakamura , University of Hawai'i

For More Information

Allen, Gwenfread. Hawaii War Years, 1941-1945 . Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1950. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1971.

Beaglehole, Ernest. Pacific Affairs 25.1 (March 1952): 110-111.
Jones, F.C. International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 1944-) 28.1 (January 1952): 128-129.
Nakatsuka, Lawrence. Pacific Citizen , Dec. 16, 1950, 2.
Pomeroy, Earl. Pacific Historical Review 21.4 (Nov. 1952): 401-402.

Damon, Annabel. "Kamaaina Newswoman Writes Book on Hawaii's War Years; Scheduled to be Released Early in November." Honolulu Advertiser , October 4, 1950, 4.

Hawaii War Records Depository website.


  1. Annabel Damon, "Kamaaina Newswoman Writes Book on Hawaii's War Years; Scheduled to be Released Early in November," Honolulu Advertiser , October 4, 1950, 4.
  2. University of Hawai'i at Mānoa Hamilton Library, "Allen, Gwenfread," Microfiche D98050 Biographical.
  3. Ernest Beaglehole, Review of Hawaii's War Years, 1941-1945 , by Gwenfred Allen, Pacific Affairs 25.1 March 1952): 110; Earl Pomeroy, Review of Hawaii's War Years, 1941-1945, by Gwenfred Allen, Pacific Historical Review 21.4 (Nov. 1952): 401.
  4. Beaglehole, 110.
  5. F.C. Jones, Review of Hawaii's War Years, 1941-1945, by Gwenfred Allen, International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 1944-) 28.1 (January 1952): 129.

Last updated Feb. 12, 2024, 9:58 p.m..