• If not a state, Hawaii before 1959 was a popular tourist destination for Americans. In this 1957 photo, women of the Business and Professionals Women's Club wait in the Kern County Airport in California before taking off for Hawaii. Courtesy of Kern County Library via California Digital Library.

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    Business and Professional Women's club memers, trip to Hawaii
    • Date
    • 1957
    • Creator
    • Unknown.
    • Description
    • Three members of the Business and Professional Women's Club (BPW) just about to leave for the BPW Western Regional Convention in Hawaii. Shown in front of of Kern County Airport are Ruth Schreckenbach, Paulina M. Hart, and an unidentified woman.
    • Rights
    • Unknown. Copyright status unknown. Some materials in these collections may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). In addition, the reproduction of some materials may be restricted by terms of gift or purchase agreements, donor res... more
      Unknown. Copyright status unknown. Some materials in these collections may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). In addition, the reproduction of some materials may be restricted by terms of gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions, privacy and publicity rights, licensing and trademarks. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owner. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user. less
    • Partner
    • California Digital Library
    • Contributing Institution
    • Kern County Library

  • After World War II, President Truman appointed Oren E. Long, pictured here, as territorial governor of Hawaii. With experience in the territory's public schools and Department of Public Welfare, Long was an early advocate for Hawaiian statehood. Courtesy of University of Southern California Libraries.

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    Governor Long of Hawaii, 1952

  • Joseph Burns, Hawaii's territorial representative, was not the only one campaigning across the US for Hawaiian statehood. In this photo, Jackson McBride poses with the Liberty Bell as he tries to drum up support for Hawaii in Pennsylvania. Courtesy of University of Southern California.

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    Hawaii tour for statehood, 1958

  • Hawaii's admission into the union was a cause for celebration. This newsreel features Hawaiians celebrating the news with parades, papers, and dance. Courtesy of WSB-TV, J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection via Digital Library of Georgia.

     

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    HAWAII CELEBRATES STATEHOOD
    • Date
    • 1959-03-13
    • Creator
    • WSB-TV (Television station : Atlanta, Ga.)
    • Description
    • Title supplied by cataloger. Original found in the WSB-TV newsfilm collection.
    • Rights
    • Http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/InC/1.0/
    • Partner
    • Digital Library of Georgia
    • Contributing Institution
    • Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection

America's empire unraveled after World War II. The war was a devastating conflict leaving countries in ruins and millions dead. At the same time, the aftermath of World War II reignited campaigns for independence across colonies. This section follows how Hawaii, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico renegotiated their relationships with the US. From the Pacific to the Caribbean, the legacies of America's empire continued to shape foreign and domestic policy and popular culture.

For Hawaii, the American flag stayed in place. In August 1959, President Eisenhower officially declared Hawaii the fiftieth state. This followed months of debate both on the islands and in the mainland. To determine its fate, the Hawaiian government polled residents in 1950 and 1959, and they overwhelmingly approved both a state constitution and the larger statehood bill. Territorial representative John Burns embarked on an ambitious campaign through Washington DC to rally support for Hawaiian statehood. Meanwhile in Congress, the statehood bill became involved with other national issues. Southern Democrats, as an example, opposed Hawaii because they thought the admission would tip the civil rights debate against them. Nevertheless, Hawaii was added to the union and earned a star on the flag. In 1993, President Bill Clinton issued an official apology for the US's involvement in overthrowing the Hawaiian monarchy.