May 28th, 2021 / posted by paularath

Remember when I used to give mall talks at Ala Moana Moana Center and Kahala Mall about how to pack for a long trip? Following the talks, I would write a story on the subject, incorporating ideas from my audiences.

Well, this is not one of those.

This is from a story I found in the Palama Settlement Archives. It’s by the late Bob Krauss, beloved writer of “Our Honolulu,” from The Honolulu Advertiser, dated February 9, 2000.

My mother, Jacky Rath, found letters her father-in-law, James A. Rath, had saved in 1905, and she shared them with Bob.

They were written in 1905 by the folks from Central Union Church who had recruited my grandfather, James A. Rath, a recent graduate in social work from Springfield College in Massachusetts.

My mother, Jacky Rath, and me at the official opening of the Palama Settlement Archives in 2010.

Jerry, my mother, Jacky Rath and me at the opening of the Palama Archives in 2010.

My grandparents were recruited in 1905 to come to Honolulu to create a social agency that could serve Honolulu’s poorest neighborhood, Palama. What they created is Palama Settlement, which turns 125 years old this year. These excerpts are from letters sent to them regarding what to pack for Hawaii – and what not to pack.

“You will be allowed by the railroads to take 350 pounds of baggage each. I should advise you to bring such furniture as you now own which can be compactly boxed.

“You need no warm clothing in Hawaii. Bring no stoves.

“Stuffed furniture is not needed here. Buy all the thin underwear you will require for some time. This should be of the thinnest kind.

“Goods of all kinds are dearer in Hawaii than in the United States. White clothes are worn a good deal by men and women.”

It was suggested that bulky items too heavy for the train could go by ship around Cape Horn.

Quite an adventure for a young man from India and his Norwegian wife, who met and fell in love in Massachusetts. And what a legacy they created: Palama Settlement!

The Palama Archives is in need of funds so we can digitize our treasure trove of Hawaii history. If you feel inclined to honor this storied social agency, please go to for information on how to donate. Or you can email me.


Paula Rath

What are they saying?
Leave a comment below.
duncan graham
May 29th, 2021 at 7:48 am

“dearer in hawaii than in the united states” sums up the world’s problems, post-obama, better than any news report i’ve seen.

Leave a comment:
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *.