A Reflection on the H-3 Freeway Archives and Political Processes Symposium

By Jasmine Malone, Law Library Archives Intern

About the Project

On October 12, 2023, library and archives professionals and students from UH Mānoa launched a web resource titled Archives and Political Processes: A Case Study History of the H-3 Freeway. The website curates digitized primary documents from U.S. Federal, Hawaiʻi State, and community sources about the history of interstate H-3 freeway. Users can navigate them via the Timeline, Political Process, Collection, or Party pages. The case study’s purpose is to create a singular resource for all researchers to understand multiple political processes behind the construction of, and opposition to, the H-3 freeway by pulling together a curated selection of archival documents previously located across different repositories and offices.

The project team hosted a free, hybrid symposium to release the resource. The event was co-sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship for Diversity, Inclusion & Cultural Heritage at Rare Book School, the University of Hawaiʻi School of Law Library, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Hamilton Library, and the Windward Community College Library. 

Part I highlighted the project team’s efforts in making the resource and their perspectives on the process.

The Hawai’i Political Papers Project Team from Left to Right: Perry Arrasmith, Jasmine Malone, Dore Minatodani, Ellen-Rae Cachola, Gwen Sinclair, Kealohilani Minami, Dawn Sueoka, Tom Dye. Missing from picture: Kyle Hart and Kylee Munro

Part II featured community leaders who shared their lived experiences and lasting impressions surrounding the H-3 freeway.

Part 2 Panelists from left to right: Ellen-Rae Cachola (emcee), Jennifer Sabas, Mahealani Cypher, Tom Dye, and Kawena Komeiji

Reflections of an LIS Student

I’m a new intern in the law library’s archives and came in with an understanding that there would be a steep learning curve regarding the subject matter. I am not only new to the law school library; I am new to Hawaiʻi. I did not know about the contentious history regarding building the freeway and how strongly its effects are still felt today.

I was not on the project team and did not speak at the symposium. However, what I gained through attending and observing is the opportunity for self-reflection as applied to the context within which I live and attend school. While living in Hawaiʻi, I continue to find myself reckoning with the Western views I’ve been taught on what libraries and archives are – what I learned information practices “should” look like. Attending this symposium helped break this mindset down.

This website exemplifies the lasting value of holistic storytelling, unlike anything I’ve seen at any other site I’ve worked at. The project emphasizes capturing and curating the nuanced aspects of political processes in Hawaii by offering the presence of all relevant perspectives. This project exemplifies the ideal scenario I’ve encountered in class and readings – respectfully highlighting varied perspectives and allowing your researchers to build on what you’ve presented.

Citizens hoping to stop TH-3 from being built through Moanalua Valley massed at the Capitol yesterday to voice their dissent. Photo by Bob Young. Credit: Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

A project of this kind seems long overdue. It directly responds to calls for redescription efforts in librarianship and archives (Sutherland & Purcell, 2021) by attempting to eliminate that issue head-on – appropriately naming community groups, describing them, and presenting their perspective as evenly as possible in the historical record.

As I consider how to connect what I have learned from the project and symposium to my practice as a budding archivist, I am left contemplating three takeaways:

  1. Libraries and Archives must include Indigenous knowledge in the historical record. Inclusion requires time, trust, community connection, and a deep understanding of indigenous knowledge practices. The indigenous community must be active participants and leaders in this effort. While this seems straightforward, much of western archival practice and theory prioritize speed and tangible evidence, excluding other means of knowing.
  2. Holistic storytelling with primary resources reveals a cycle of community based questions answered by rediscovered materials in archives. Many project team members emphasized the difficulty in bringing the resources together from various people and sites. Furthermore, individuals who touched the project came with questions, hoping the existence of the resource and future researchers may provide answers. During the symposium, the project team mentioned that the resource is a work in progress. It is a living thing that will continue to grow as it is nurtured. This growth may bring about new questions for primary resources to answer. That life cycle is the beauty of archives.
  3. Documenting political processes requires inclusion. The politics of building H-3 involved and impacted the Moanalua Valley, Kānaka maoli (Native Hawaiians), the United States federal government and military, and Hawaiʻi state government. A project like this shows us that it is possible to include the voices of those the political process touched. It provides a blueprint for presenting similar histories to capture the most complete picture.

Watch the symposium webinar:


Sutherland, T., & Purcell, A. (2021). A weapon and a tool: Decolonizing description and embracing redescription as liberatory archival praxis. The International Journal of Information, Diversity, & Inclusion, 5(1), 60–78. https://doi.org/10.33137/IJIDI.V5I1.34669

Young, B. (n.d). [Citizens hoping to stop TH-3 from being built through Moanalua Valley massed at the Capitol yesterday to voice their dissent] Archives and Political Processes: A Case Study on the History of the H-3 Freeway, https://manoa.hawaii.edu/h-3/history/

Jasmine S. Malone is a candidate for the Master of Library and Information Science degree at the UH Manoa and interns in the School of Law  Library Archives Department.