Learn about Hawaii's history and available records in this research guide that includes a map and bibliography.
No one who's visited the islands of Hawaii should be surprised that the world's great powers vied for this tropical paradise for centuries after its discovery by Europeans. Spanish sailors visited in 1627, but it was Captain James Cook who put Hawaii on the map with his third voyage; he was killed at Kealakekua Bay in 1779. Britain claimed Hawaii in 1794, though that didn't deter incursions by the Russians in 1815 and the French in 1849.
Missionary fervor rather than imperialism sparked early American visits. Protestant missionaries came in 1820 and eventually codified the written Hawaiian language. Mormon missionaries began making numerous converts after 1850.