Historical Markers in
Kalawao County, Hawaii

In 1893, a group of American businessmen and politicians overthrew the Hawaiian monarchy and established a provisional government with Sanford B. Dole as president. The annexation of Hawaii to the United States was formalized in 1898.
Kalawao County, located on the eastern side of the island of Molokai, is a unique place with a rich history. Originally established as a leper colony in 1866, Kalawao County became a place of solace and isolation for those affected by Hansen's disease, also known as leprosy. The isolation of the county was intended to prevent the spread of the disease to other parts of Hawaii.

The leprosy settlement in Kalawao County was under the governance of the Hawaiian Kingdom until 1894 when it was annexed by the United States. During this time, the settlement faced numerous challenges, including limited resources and living conditions. However, in 1909, the Hawaiian government passed legislation that provided improved medical care and living conditions for the patients in Kalawao County.

As medical advancements allowed for the treatment and control of Hansen's disease, the population of Kalawao County declined. By 1969, the number of patients in the settlement had reduced significantly. Recognizing the historical significance of the place, Kalawao County was designated as a National Historic Site by the National Park Service in 1980.

Today, Kalawao County remains a living testament to the history of Hansen's disease in Hawaii. A small number of individuals still live in the settlement, and the area is open to visitors who wish to learn about the challenges faced by the patients and the resilience they exhibited. The county serves as a reminder of the importance of compassion, understanding, and the ongoing efforts to combat stigmatization and discrimination associated with infectious diseases.

This timeline provides a glimpse into the major events and milestones that have shaped the history of Kalawao County, Hawaii.

  • Kalawao County established on July 1, 1873
  • Leprosy patients sent to the Kalaupapa Settlement in Kalawao County in 1866
  • The Kalaupapa Leper Settlement officially established in 1866
  • Medical treatment and care provided to leprosy patients in Kalaupapa
  • Kalawao County became a place of quarantine for individuals with leprosy
  • Isolation policies implemented to control the spread of leprosy
  • Leprosy patients lived in Kalaupapa under strict regulations and isolation until 1969
  • Quarantine lifted and isolation ended in Kalawao County in 1969
  • Mainland residents and tourists gradually permitted to visit Kalaupapa
  • Kalawao County remains a home for a small number of afflicted individuals