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The six-to-ten page Hilo Tribune was published in Hilo on the island of Hawai‘i in English and some Hawaiian from November 23, 1895 to June 27, 1917, by the Hilo Tribune Publishing Company. It was published every Saturday through January 26, 1901, then every Friday beginning February 1, 1901. Although the Hilo Tribune began with a small Hawaiian language section written and edited by Reverend Stephen L. Desha, by late 1896 the paper was exclusively in English. Payson Caldwell (1895-96), Edward D. Sparrow (1896-97), William Henry Smith (1897-1901), and Lester W. Haworth (1901-04) served as subsequent editors.

In initial issues, the Hilo Tribune described itself as “Bright, reliable, newsy, and popular” and “The progressive paper of Hawai‘i” in its masthead. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the paper supported “progressive” causes, including economic development and the annexation of Hawai‘i to the United States. In 1902, although the paper promoted the Republican Party, it denounced Sanford B. Dole, then Republican territorial governor of Hawai‘i. In the August 29, 1902 issue, the Hilo Tribune editorialized, “It is well known that if Dole and his click [sic] were out of office and out of the way, two thirds of the Hawaiians would be republicans and vote the Republican ticket. Then there would be no question as to our representative in Congress.” In the following issue of September 5, 1902, the paper endorsed Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalaniana‘ole, a member of the Hawaiian royal family, as the next elected delegate to the U.S. Congress. He eventually won the election by a landslide and served for ten terms from March 4, 1903, until his death on January 7, 1922.

The Hilo Tribune featured a variety of Hawai‘i, national, and international news. The paper reported eruptions of the volcanoes on the island of Hawai‘i. The February 28, 1905 story “Kilauea Crater Continues in Eruption” personified volcanoes as actions of the Hawaiian volcano goddess Pele: “Madame Pele, the grim Goddess of Kilauea’s fiery furnaces ... came forth from her cavernous abyss and added her share in celebrating the birthday of the Father of our country. For four days she played her pyrotechnics, sending tons of molten lava high into the air, and playing with hugh [sic] fragments of solidified rock as though she were scattering feathers before the wind.”

The paper also included agricultural reports with an emphasis on the coffee industry, editorials, legal notices, shipping schedules, advertisements, fiction, and a condensed local items section. The last section gave readers a peek into the Hilo residents’ daily lives, in announcing events and news, including celebrations, engagements, deaths (including suicides), club meetings, performances, church services, arrivals, departures, lost items, and new businesses in the area. 

In 1923, the Hilo Tribune merged with the Daily Post-Herald  and Hawaii Herald  to form the Hilo Tribune-Herald .  That paper changed its name to Hawaii Tribune-Herald on March 2, 1964, when the Donrey group in Las Vegas bought the paper from the Honolulu Star-Bulletin Publishing Co. Now under the Stephens Media Group, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald serves as the major daily newspaper for the island of Hawai‘i and has an online edition.

Provided by: University of Hawaii at Manoa; Honolulu, HI