Interracial Marriage and Admixture in Hawaii

Interracial Marriage and Admixture in Hawaii

Biodemography and Social Biology
Volume 17, Issue 4 (1970)
pages 278-291
DOI: 10.1080/19485565.1970.9987885

Clarence E. Glick, Professor of Sociology
University of Hawaii

Michener’s phrase “the golden men of Hawaii” reflects a popular romantic interest in the blending of ethnic elements that has been going on in Hawaii for almost two centuries. More seriously, if less romantically, scholars have been analyzing interracial marriages and intermixture and attempting to trace their effects on the emergent population of Hawaii (Adams, 1937; Hormann, 1948; Lind, 1967; Cheng and Yamamura, 1957; Taeuber, 1962; Schmitt, 1965). A landmark study, Genetics of Interracial Crosses in Hawaii, published by the geneticist Newton E. Morton and his associates in 1967, has given us a valuable comparison of “mixed” and “unmixed” children bom in Hawaii, through a detailed analysis of nearly 180,000 births registered during the eleven-year period 1948-58.

Part of the focus of the present paper is upon demographic, cultural, and social factors that must have affected genetic changes in Hawaii’s population, even though some of these considerations must be somewhat impressionistic. Moreover, it is necessary to interpret the usual measures of interracial marriage and racial admixture on which studies of genetic changes in Hawaii might be based. Such an interpretation points to an even greater breakdown in traditional mating patterns and subsequent genetic recombinations than the statistical evidence indicates.


Hawaii is fortunate in having census data for a longer period than any other area in the Pacific. Census reports go back to 1847, but there have been many variations in the “racial” categories used as well as in the actual racial make-up of the people designated by certain categories (Schmitt, 1968). These variations reflect changing social definitions of ethnic groups in Hawaii’s population and the changing circumstances under which interracial marriage has taken place. The 1853 census, for example, used the terms “natives” and “half-natives” for groups later called “Hawaiians” and “Part-Hawaiians”. The general term “foreign population” was subdivided to differentiate Portuguese from other Europeans, Americans from Europeans, and Chinese and Filipinos as other categories of foreigners. The term “half-castes” was used from 1866 to 1890. The censuses of 1910, 1920, and 1930 attempted to differentiate between “Caucasian-Hawaiians” and “Asiatic-Hawaiians”; those of…

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