Pacific Islands Handbook, 1944 Edition

Dublin Core


Pacific Islands Handbook, 1944 Edition


Several excerpts from the 1944 edition of the Pacific Islands Handbook, including its description of Palmyra and its history, a map of the Pacific including Palmyra, and a wonderful diagram showing all the various uses for Coconut trees, describing them as "The wealth producer of the Pacific Islands"


R.W. Robson






Public Domain





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Kingman Reef is 920 miles south of Honolulu, W. Long. 162°, N. Lat. 6° 20'. It is a bare, triangular reef, nine by five miles, sheltering a lagoon with considerable depths. Captain Fanning discovered it in 1798, and Captain Kingman described it in 1853. It was annexed by the United States on May 3, 1922; and in 1934, when trans-Pacific aviation was under discussion, the reef was placed under the control of the United States Navy. In 1937, Pan American Air-ways, pioneering the new airmail service with flying boats, between Hawaii and New Zealand (via East-ern Samoa), used the sheltered lagoon at Kingman Reef as a halfway station between Honolulu and Pago Pago, and the schooner Trade Wind was anchored there, as a sort of hostel and supply ship. After a number of trial flights, the PAA seaplane was lost off Pago Pago on January i i, 1938; and this route was thereafter abandoned, in favour of the Canton Island to Fiji to Noumea route to Auckland.

Palmyra Island, thirty-three miles southeast of Kingman, was discovered by Captain Sawle in 1802 in the ship Palmyra, and was first called Samarang. There are several islets scattered along the circular reef. Palmyra was annexed by the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1862, by Britain in 1889, and included by the United States among the Hawaiian Islands by Congressional Act of 1898. The U.S. cruiser West Virginia took formal possession in 1912. Judge Cooper of Honolulu acquired title to the island in 1911, and used it for growing coconuts; and he sold all except two islets to Leslie and Ellen Fullard-Leo. Cooper died in 1929. The two islets (Home Isles) passed to his heirs. Construction of a naval airfield commenced there in 1939, and the area became a "prohibited defence area.”

These three islands form a part of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony. For a description, see page 175 under that heading. JARVIS ISLAND Jarvis Island is a small, uninhabited bleak place, two miles by one mile, lying by itself just south of the equa-tor, at W. Long. 16o°. It was first reported by Captain Brown, of the British ship Eliza Francis, in 1821 and has been called Bunker, Volunteer, Jervis, and Brook. The American Guano Company claimed it in 1857, and from then until 1879, when it was abandoned, large quantities of guano were removed. It was annexed by Britain in 1889, and in 1906 was leased to the Pacific Phosphate Company, but apparently never was worked. When United States officials occupied and claimed the island in 1935, Britain offered no objection; and it since has been used as an air and weather station.

Original Format



R.W. Robson, “Pacific Islands Handbook, 1944 Edition,” Palmyra Archive, accessed August 12, 2020,