Archivists in the Making

October is National Archives Month and we’re celebrating Punahou’s own Archives, which catalogs Punahou’s 181 years of history. 

Recent graduates share about the enriching experience of working as apprentices in the Punahou Archives, under the guidance of longtime Archivist Kylee Mar.


I was named the co-editor-in-chief of Ka Punahou, the School’s newspaper. One of my ideas for Ka Punahou was to integrate the Archives in honoring Ka Punahou’s past. 

Kumu Kylee and I came up with the idea to feature Ka Punahou articles “From the Vault” about campus events from the past. In this way, I stayed involved with the Archives. I even wrote about the Archives and my interest in museum studies on my college applications.

Kumu Kylee asked me to participate in a student panel for the Association of Hawai‘i Archivists. After I shared about my time in the Punahou Archives, a curator in Bishop Museum’s ethnology department invited me to intern. Through the Archives, I was able to accomplish my goal of working in a museum, and I’ve found that this is truly something I want to pursue. In college, I hope to study art and archaeology. I am beyond grateful for Kumu Kylee, the Punahou Archives and my amazing co-workers for helping me find my passion.

Kate Ellis ’22

I have always loved museums and learning about my surroundings, but I knew that this experience would be especially enriching given the 13 years that I spent at Punahou School.

I worked on a campus tour mobile app to teach incoming fourth grade students about campus. While doing research in the Archives, I learned about the Dunking Ceremony, which used to take place in Punahou’s Lily Pond years ago. It was shocking to find out there was faculty supervision during this, that they considered dunking an art, and had to train people how to throw others into the Lily Pond! 

One thing that I will take away from this experience is to stay curious. As I head off to college, I hope to keep on learning about my surroundings. Learning about Punahou School and its interwoven history with Hawaiian history has been very informative. I will forever be grateful for this eye-opening experience.

Kawena Kekauoha ’22

Behind those airlocked doors of the Punahou Archives are fragments in time, history you’ve presumably been told, but really, it’s only half the story. Not a single thing in the room is superficial. It’s the life of someone well before you that you hold in your white-gloved hands. Their memories, laughter, stories, friendships, all inscribed onto one irreplaceable artifact, photo, tape. Know that each day you rummage through time, you will never know what you will uncover next, but there is always a story to be told.

There will be moments when you succumb to the depths of books and boxes, and literally get lost in the track of time. However much time you spend in there, short as it may be, a little bit of you will always remain in the catacombs, and a little bit of the catacombs will always remain in you.

Emma Rose Layaoen ’22

My job at the Archives was to watch as many archived videos as I could and log information about those videos. I would tag every person that was included, every location they used on and off campus, the length of the video, the languages used, and more. I would categorize the topics that were discussed and create a write-up of what the video was about as well. 

This was an attempt to have an easy resource for students and faculty to pull from in the digital archives. If a student was doing a project about the history of the Lily Pond, we could find every video that we’ve logged so far that was filmed there or even mentions it. Or, for example, if someone was looking for videos related to the history of Cooke Library, we could search such keywords as “library,” “books,” “learning,” “reading” and “Cooke” and find 45 videos.

Natalie Collat ’20

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