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Less than 1 percent of Hawaii's population is pure-blooded Hawaiian. Many immigrant groups originally came as contract laborers to work in the sugar fields. The Chinese began arriving in 1852, followed by the Portuguese in 1878, the Japanese in 1884, Koreans in 1903, and Filipinos in 1906. Those of Japanese descent presently constitute about 30 percent of the total population, and are the largest ethnic group in Hawaii. American missionaries from New England started coming in 1820, but the number of Americans was not significant until about 1875.

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An important manuscript collection of compiled genealogies for Hawaii is William A. Cole's Cole-Jensen Collection. This consists of 51 binders and folders of oral genealogy transcripts collected from Polynesians of Hawaii, New Zealand, Samoa, Tahiti, and the Cook Islands, microfilmed in 1984. The Hawaiian genealogies comprise three of nine microfilms (beginning on FHL film 1358001). The original materials no longer exist as an intact collection.

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