Researching Census Information on Filipinos in Hawai’i: 1850-2017

By Ellen-Rae Cachola, Evening Supervisor and Archives Manager

Filipinos have been immigrating to Hawai’i since the Hawaiian Kingdom into the present.  Evidence of this can be found in databases that collected census information during the different Hawaiian government jurisdictions–the Constitutional Monarchy of the Hawaiian Kingdom (1840-1893), the Territory of Hawaiʻi (1900-1959) and the State of Hawaiʻi (1959-present).  These databases could be used to research population statistics of other ethnic groups in Hawaiʻi.

The Family Search Database Hawaii, Naturalization Records, 1838-1991 has digitized and created searchable metadata on naturalization records created during the Hawaiian Kingdom to the State of Hawaiʻi. 

webshot of Family Search Database Hawaii, Naturalization Records

When in the Family Search website, enter the keyword “Philippines” in the birth place field. You will be asked to set up an account to retrieve results.  Records of Filipinos who were born in Manila, the capital city of the Philippines, and naturalized in the Hawaiian Kingdom during the 1850-1860s, can be found.

examples of naturalization data on 6 individuals

The Bulletin of the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, Issues 434-439 is a resource to find population statistics of Filipinos in Hawaiʻi during the Territory of Hawaiʻi.  On page 74,  the numbers of Filipinos who immigrated to and returned from Hawaiʻi from 1909-1925 are listed. These numbers were tracked by the Hawaiʻi Sugar Plantation Association.

Labor Conditions in Hawaii chart 1909-1925

The U.S. Census has a 1930 publication on the Census for Outlying Territories and Possessions.  This publication includes a report on Hawaiʻi, which was a territory of the United States in 1930.  On page 49, Table 3 shows the number of Filipinos in Hawaiʻi from 1920-1930, as well as Filipinos with native, foreign and mixed parentage. 

Ethnic composition chart 1930 and 1920
Composition and Characteristics chart from Hawaii 1930 and 1920

To search for Filipnos in Hawaiʻi after 1956, one can look at the U.S. Decennial Censuses for Hawaiʻi.  A good place to start is the UH Manoa LibGuide “Hawaiʻi – Censuses,” which provides resources for Hawaiʻi population statistics from before the 1960s and onward. 

Hawaii Census LibGuide Home Page

For example, in the 1970 tab of the LibGuide, there is a link to U.S. Census Bureau Decennials, which are population and housing censuses that are taken every 10 years. Find the Census of Population and Housing, 1970; then, 1970 Census of Population; then, Volume I. Characteristics of the Population.  There you will find Hawaiʻi among the list of states and one can download the full document. Table 17. Race by Sex: 1900-1970 on page 13-28 lists the total number of Filipinos in Hawaiʻi in 1970, and disaggregated by urban and rural areas. 

Race by Sex 1900-70 chart

Using a subscription access to the Social Explorer database, it is possible to find the number of people in Hawaiʻi born in the Philippines, using the “Foreign Born” facet, and the number of Filipino identified, using the “Asian and Hispanic Groups” facets, in 2017.  These search facets are available only from 2006 and later because they were not implemented into the database before that year.

change data map of Hawaii