John Dominis Holt

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John Dominis Holt (1919 - 1993), is a noted author of books on Hawaiian culture and history.



Holt spent two years at Kamehameha Schools and graduated from Roosevelt High School in Honolulu. He attended Columbia University in 1943-46 never acquiring a degree.

Personal Background

Holt’s first wife, Fredda Burwell, was a New York artist. They returned to Hawaii where he worked as a landscape designer and contractor. After Fredda died in 1972, Holt married Frances “Patches” MacKinnon Damon, a granddaughter of Samuel Mills Damon, who was a konohiki of Bernice Pauahi Bishop, a bank partner of Charles Reed Bishop and a trusted friend. Holt and Patches were community activists as well as patrons of the arts. During the late 1940s and 1950s, Patches gained notoriety as an outspoken leader of a communist youth group on the East Coast. She fought against the construction of the H-3 freeway and development in Kahala.

John Dominis Holt Award

Ka Palapala Po'okela book awards are presented yearly by the Hawai'i Book Publishers Association to recognize the top books published during the previous year, as well as those individuals involved in their creation. The John Dominis Holt Award, presented by the publishers is given to an individual for a lifetime contribution to Hawaii book-publishing.

Books authored by John Dominis Holt

  • Art of Featherwork in Old Hawaii
  • Monarchy in Hawaii
  • On Being Hawaiian
  • Recollections Memoirs of John Dominis Holt 1919-1935
  • Waimea Summer
  • Hanai: A Poem for Queen Liliuokalani
  • Robert William Holt: Founder of the Holt family in Hawaii
  • Hale Hoike-ike: The story of a house
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