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Thomas P. Gill Papers

Identifier: MANUSCRIPT-HCPC00004

Thomas Gill donated 86 record center boxes of material to the University of Hawaii at Manoa Library and the formal deed of gift was signed on May 8, 2001. The collection was archivally processed from July 2005 through March 2006.

The papers have been arranged into five series, further divided into subseries, and sub- subseries (see Series, Subseries & Sub-subseries Listing). Unlabeled material has been assigned to appropriate series and subseries by the Archives staff.

The material was largely in fair to good condition. The boxes were reasonably well labeled as were the files in them. Many binders, paper clips, staples, and rubber bands had caused minor damage and were removed. Some newspaper clippings had crumbled and were discarded. Other clippings were retained, awaiting the staff and funds necessary to photocopy them before they disintegrate. Multiples of speeches and press releases were discarded after retaining the two best copies for the collection.

Gill’s experiences in Hawaii Democratic Party politics, in the U.S. House of Representatives and in the Lt. Governor’s office are well represented here. There is a smaller amount of material from his pre-Congressional life.

All of the papers are open for research, but since some files may contain information about individuals, the Archives staff may redact documents out of concern for personal privacy.

For other research and biographical material related to Thomas P. Gill, please consult the University of Hawaii Library’s online catalog, the Index to the Honolulu Advertiser and Honolulu Star-Bulletin, the online Newspaper Index maintained by the Hawaii State Library, the Congressional Record, the Hawaii State Archives, and papers of other members of Congress in the Hawaii Congressional Papers Collection and elsewhere. See also the “Artificial Files” of information about Gill collected by the Archives staff, largely from 1997 onward.


  • Other: 1950 - 2005
  • Majority of material found within 1960 - 1979


Conditions Governing Access

Material with personal information may be redacted by the Archives staff. Some fragile items may need to be handled by the staff only. Use of audiovisual material may require the production of listening or viewing copies.

The Hawaiʻi Congressional Papers Collection is accessible in the University Archives and Manuscripts Department's John Troup Moir, Jr., and Gertrude M.F. Moir Archives Reading Room. For more information, please contact the Congressional Papers Archivist by email:, or phone: 808-956-6047.

Literary Rights Notice

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the University of Hawaii Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must be obtained by the researcher.


98 Linear Feet


Thomas P. Gill (1922- ) was a member of Congress from Hawaii to the U.S. House of Representatives (1963-1964). His political career before and after Congress included serving in the Hawaii Territorial Legislature (1958-1959), the Hawaii State Legislature (1959-1962), the Hawaii Office of Economic Opportunity (1965-1966) and the office of Lt. Governor of Hawaii (1966-1970). He was deeply involved in local and national Democratic Party politics whether in or out of office.

Declining an officer rank, Gill served in World War II as an enlisted soldier in the 24th Infantry Division in New Guinea and the Philippines and was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. His private law practice was a platform for lifelong advocacy of social, political, economic and environmental justice, the effects of which are still being felt in Hawaii. He married Lois Hanawalt in 1947 and has six children—Thomas (“Tony”), Andrea, Eric, Ivan, Timothy, and Gary.

The bulk of the collection is from Gill’s two years in Congress and in the Lt. Governor’s office. It includes correspondence, reports, photographs, audiovisual items and memorabilia. It is strong in material documenting his enthusiastic political life and on his concerns about nuclear power; the environment; land development, especially on the Big Island; and the high cost of living in Hawaii, principally for food and housing.

Biographical Note

Born in Honolulu on April 21, 1922, Thomas Ponce Gill served just one term in the U.S. House of Representatives—but his long career as an elected official, civil servant and private attorney advocating social, political, economic and environmental reform places him in the forefront of those most responsible for creating the Hawaii we know today.

Gill’s father, an architect, moved to Hawaii in 1896, but unlike most members of his ethnicity and class, he sent his son to the Territorial public schools—Lincoln Elementary, Roosevelt High and the University of Hawaii—encouraging an independent social consciousness that has been one of the hallmarks of Gill’s political life. The Territorial newspapers first mention Tom Gill in 1945, when Tech Sgt. Gill, newly returned from the 24th Infantry campaigns in New Guinea and the Philippines (where he earned a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart), is quoted as remarking, “The doughboys don’t get the same publicity as the fliers and some of the others. All they generally get is a row of white crosses.” This early interview is indicative of some of the qualities that sustained Gill throughout his career: a concern for equity and the underdog expressed in a concise, telling phrase. In the 1960s, when he was widely regarded as the most articulate and literate Hawaii politician, Gill’s appearance, youth, war record—and seemingly effortless ability to produce an apt phrase—drew comparisons with John Fitzgerald Kennedy. But in 1946, when the returning veteran first expressed an interest in politics, it was by approaching Republican Party chairman Roy Vitousek. Told “the Republican Party didn’t need anybody,” Gill went to California to attend the University of California School of Law.

Returning to Hawaii in 1951, the young attorney already possessed a strong sense of independence and self-assurance, strikingly revealed in an anecdote told by longtime Democratic Party organizer Dan Aoki, who approached Gill in 1952 about joining the group John Burns was assembling in his campaign to revitalize the Democratic Party. “Join you guys … ,” Gill replied, “how about you guys joining me?” Although clearly not a member of Burns’ inner circle, Gill served as the Oahu County Democratic campaign chair for the elections of 1952 and 1954, when the “Democratic Revolution” ended decades of Republican political control in the Territory. Gill was also chair of the Oahu County Democratic Committee from 1954 to 1958. In the mid-1950s, while serving as Territorial Senate council and administrative aide to the Speaker of the House, he played a key role in drafting social, economic and environmental legislation considered so liberal that Republican governor Sam King vetoed 71 out of some 80 or 90 pieces of legislation—leading to King’s defeat in the next election.

Gill was first elected to office as 15th District representative to the 30th Territorial Legislature, and in 1959 was elected to the first State of Hawaii Legislature, where he served as majority floor leader. Then in 1962 Gill was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, Hawaii’s last at-large representative before the state was divided into two congressional districts. Choosing not to run for re-election in 1964, Gill instead unsuccessfully challenged Hiram Fong for a Senate seat. Gov. John Burns then appointed Gill director of the Hawaii Office of Economic Opportunity, where he was able to influence social and economic policy.

Although not the candidate preferred by Burns, and despite opposition from both business, who distrusted Gill’s liberalism, and from labor—and in particular the ILWU—who distrusted Gill’s independence, he was elected Lieutenant Governor in 1966. Following losing campaigns for governor in 1970 and 1974, Gill resumed the practice of law.

Widely recognized throughout his career for his intellectual energy and acumen, expressed with a directness and cogency often perceived as impatience and arrogance, Gill’s independence caused his political career to founder often in controversy. But his legacy as a progressive and tireless worker for a more just, open and sustainable society continues to inspire subsequent generations—including Gary Gill, politician, activist and youngest of the six Gill children, who once described his father as a “a reform-minded person who always attempted to represent the interests of labor and the working people, and to struggle for social and economic justice.”

Compiled by Stan Schab, Center for Biographical Research, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Jan. 13, 2003

Biographical Chronology

1922 Apr 21
Born in Honolulu, son of Thomas Gill (architect) and Lorin Tarr Gill
Graduated from Roosevelt High School, Honolulu
Attended University of Hawaii
1941 Dec-1942 Oct
Volunteered for Hawaii Territorial Guard
1942 Nov-1945 Nov
Enlisted as a private in the 24th Infantry Division
Fought in New Guinea, Phillipines
Awarded Bronze Star, Purple Heart
Married Lois Hanawalt whom he met at UC Berkeley, in Honolulu; children Thomas ("Tony"), Andrea, Eric, Ivan, Timothy, and Gary
Graduated with B.A., University of California at Berkeley
Member, American Veterans Committee
Graduated, University of California Law School
Admitted to Hawaii Bar, began Honolulu law practice
Attorney for Unity House unions and founded a labor-oriented law firm. Paul Kokubun was first law partner, then Herman Doi and Alvin Shinn
1952, 1954
Chairman, Oahu County Democratic Campaign Committee
Chairman, Oahu County Democratic Committee Labor law practice
Attorney for Senate, Hawaii Territorial Legislature, regular session
Administrative Assistant to Speaker of the House (Vince Esposito), Hawaii Territorial Legislature, regular and special sessions
Elected Representative to 30th Territorial Legislature, 15th District
Elected Representative to the first State Legislature Democratic Majority Leader, State Legislature
Delegate to Democratic National Convention
Authorized land Use Law, the first statewide zoning law in the nation
Elected to U.S. House of Representatives, 88th Congress
Appointed to Interior Committee and its Territorial/Insular, Indian Affairs, and Irrigation subcommittees
Appointed to Education & Labor Committees and two of its subcommittees dealing with wage-hour laws, migrant workers, fair employment practices, vocational education, and the youth corps
Admitted to the bar of the U.S. Supreme Court
Delegate to National Democratic Convention; read Pledge of Allegiance at opening ceremony
Lost to Hiram Fong in U.S. Senate election
Director, Hawaii Office of Economic Opportunity; appointed by Gov. John Burns to launch the new agency
Elected Lt. Governor, Hawaii
Lost primary election for Governor to John Burns
Resumed law practice
Continued law labor practice
Active in Democratic Party politics
Hawaii elder statesmen for political, social, and economic issues


The Gill Papers are comprised of five series: Political Offices, Politics, Personal, Memorabilia, and Audiovisual. For four of the series, the subseries are listed alphabetically. Subseries in the Political Offices Series are listed chronologically.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Thomas P. Gill on May 8, 2001

Related Materials

Moving image material from this collection was transferred to ʻUluʻulu: The Henry Kuʻualoha Giugni Moving Image Archive of Hawaiʻi in 2021.
Thomas P. Gill Papers
Ellen Chapman, revised by Rachael Bussert
Description rules
Language of description
Thomas Gill UH Fund

Revision Statements

  • 2/26/2015: Formatting revisions were made to series descriptions and series arrangement notes.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Hawaii at Manoa Libraries Repository