The Pacific Tsunami Museum (PTM) archive is a storage and preservation facility for images, oral histories, video, documents, artifacts, maps, and other primary and secondary source materials pertinent to tsunami education and the social and cultural history of Hawai’i. The archive started as a small collection of stories and photographs.
How did PTM collect all its treasures? This Museum survives and thrives by the good graces of its supporters. People have donated photos, books, newspaper articles, family histories, paintings, scientific instruments, tsunami artifacts, and maps. People have shared their survival stories, their memories, and their keepsakes with us. We have received archival donations from as far away as Chile, Colombia, Japan, and Russia. As the archive grows, we are able to preserve the social and cultural history of Hawai’i and to serve as a living memorial to those who lost their lives in past tsunami events.
The Museum has an extensive collection of historic images. These include images depicting the aftermath of tsunamis and advancing tsunami waves. There are a limited number of historic images of Hawai’i, particularly of Hilo town. Images are available for personal, research, or commercial use (see Orders for Individual Use and Orders for Commercial Use).
In the video collection, the archive has original footage from the 1946 tsunami. This material is available for commercial use for a fee (see Orders for Commercial Use).
A very important collection in the archive is the set of first-hand accounts from survivors and witnesses of tsunamis. We have over 600 interviews and written accounts from people who either survived or witnessed a tsunami in the Pacific region or have a story to share.
You may want to look at NOAA’s Tsunami Map Viewer, a tool which allows the browser to see all the Tsunami Evacuation Zones in Hawai’i. The Interactive Hilo Bay Tsunami Map makes it possible to see photos of Hilo after the devastating 1946 tsunami by moving a mouse cursor across the map.