Monday, September 26, 2011

Educator News from the Historical Society

Welcome back to school!

The Historical Society is excited for our fantastic slate of programs and exhibits coming up in 2011-2012. This special issue of the Inquirer is a sneak peek into what’s coming to our Tacoma museum this school year. Read on to find out what’s happening in history!

1) Jumping Trains and Fighting Planes—Sign up NOW for Ghosts of the Great Hall!
2) Visit the moon (or a piece of it) this October…
3) Looking Ahead—New Exhibits at the History Museum…
4) Teacher Workshops and Opportunities
5) Contact Us

1) Jumping Trains and Fighting Planes—Sign up NOW for Ghosts of the Great Hall!

This year, we bring not one but two exciting new Ghosts of the Great Hall programs to the History Museum’s galleries. Your students will thrill to the adventures of historic characters as performed by professional actors. Questions about their lives and times are encouraged as part of these dramatic, interactive presentations.

Book NOW for:

Black Wings: American Dreams of Flight
Wednesdays only: November 2, 9, 16, & 30, 2011

“Black Wings: American Dreams of Flight” uncovers the story of African Americans who overcame enormous obstacles to get into aviation. These pioneers defied convention, broke through social barriers, and opened up new worlds of possibility for future generations. Characters performed include an early African American “barnstormer,” a Tuskegee Airman, and an aerospace industry worker.

This program complements the featured exhibit, “Black Wings: American Dreams of Flight” (through January 16, 2012). Sponsored by the Smithsonian Community Grant program and the MetLife Foundation.

Hope in Hard Times: Washington During the Great Depression
Wednesdays only: February 29, March 7, 14, 21, & 28, 2012

Dance to the tunes of the Great Depression in this Ghosts of the Great Hall program. Hobos, dance marathoners, and hunger marchers will reveal the hope behind the hardships of the 1930s with period music and exciting stories about life in difficult times.

This program complements the special exhibition “Hope in Hard Times: Washington During the Great Depression” (opening February 2012).

To find out more, visit our website:

2) Visit the moon (or a piece of it) this October…

Have you ever wanted to see an artifact from the moon? To celebrate the opening of Black Wings: American Dreams of Flight, the Washington State moon rock will be on display on Saturday, October 15 only. Beginning at 1 pm, WSHM staff will be present to share the stories behind this curious object as well as the sights and sounds of this exciting time in aviation history.

3) Looking Ahead—New Exhibits at the History Museum!

Black Wings: American Dreams of Flight
October 15, 2011 to January 16, 2012

Black Wings: American Dreams of Flight uncovers the story of African Americans who overcame enormous obstacles to break into aviation. From the thrilling barnstormers of the early 1920s to the daring astronauts of the 21st century, these pioneers defied convention, broke through social barriers, and opened up new worlds of possibility for future generations. Organized by the Smithsonian Traveling Exhibit Service with generous support from the MetLife Foundation.

Mason and the Mummy
October 20, 2012 to November 30, 2012

Please note: this exhibit will close briefly in November of 2011 for exhibit conservation and reopen in December 2011.
Who was Allen C. Mason and why did he donate a mummy to the Washington State Historical Society? Come unearth the mysteries behind Ankh-Wennefer and his journey from Akhmim, Egypt to Tacoma. Organized by the Washington State History Museum.

Catharine Paine Blaine: Seneca Falls and Washington Women’s Rights
October 20, 2011 to December 11, 2012

Catharine Paine Blaine was one of the first Methodist missionaries in Seattle. As one of the signers of the Declaration of Sentiments, Catharine held strong views about women’s rights, voting in Washington state long before other woman gained that right. A joint project of the Washington State Historical Society/Women’s History Consortium and the Women’s Rights National Historic Park of the National Park Service.

Hope in Hard Times: Washington During the Great Depression
Opens February 16, 2012

How did ordinary people deal with the hardship of the Great Depression? What parallels are there between the 1930s and the 2000s? Explore how communities came together to cope with this troubled era in “Hope in Hard Times.” Organized by the Washington State History Museum.

4) Teacher Workshops and Opportunities
There are some great teacher workshops coming up this fall! Read on to find out how you can participate:


Tacoma’s popular evening event Educator Night at the Museum is expanding this year into a whole day for educators! Join us for Educator Day at the Museum at Tacoma Art Museum on Saturday, October 1 from 10 am–2 pm.

Discover the educational resources of approximately 30 of your local arts, history, science, and cultural organizations while enjoying complimentary coffee and cookies. Enter a raffle for exciting prizes, explore Tacoma Art Museum’s galleries and also enjoy complimentary admission from 10 am-2 pm at partner organizations the Museum of Glass, Washington State History Museum, and Foss Waterway Seaport by picking up a pass at their booths while supplies last.

Participating organizations include: Broadway Performance Center, Creative Educational Experiences, Fireside Storytellers' League, Foss Waterway Seaport, Heritage League of Pierce County, Karen Haas Living History, Museum of Glass, Pierce County Library, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, Puget Sound Writing Project, Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma Youth Symphony, The News Tribune, Newspapers in Education, Washington State Archives, Washington State History Museum.... And more!

Admission to Tacoma Art Museum is free all day October 1 for educators. Please RSVP with your name, school, and grade(s)/subject(s) taught to Still have questions? Email or call 253.722.2455.


Saturday, October 15, 2011
At Delta High School,
901 Northgate Drive, Richland, WA
9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

For educators new to Washington History Day, our teacher workshops are a great way to learn not only the basics of the program, but also the key elements in creating a History Day project and how History Day meets Washington State Classroom Based Assessment requirements. You will work together in small groups to complete a typical exhibit board that will be shared with everyone at the end of the day.

This workshop provides educators the tools to successfully implement History Day in the classroom, project preparation, source analysis, research resources and more. Earn clock hours and enjoy learning new techniques while connecting with other teachers. Email to register! Space is limited and registration is required.

We are also hosting 2 workshops that all teachers involved with History Day will enjoy:

History Day Teachers Hands-On Workshop
Saturday, October 8
10:00 AM to 2:00 PM
at the Washington State Archives in Olympia

Explore the 2012 History Day theme – Revolution, Reaction, Reform in History – as well as the use and interpretation of primary and secondary research sources in their application to student products. This workshop will also be valuable for teachers seeking to integrate primary sources into their CBA units. FREE OF CHARGE

Basics of Historical Research
Saturday, October 29
9:00 AM to 12:00 PM
at Washington State Archives, Puget Sound Branch in Bellevue

The Basics of Historical Research is open to both teachers and students. Learn the basic steps for gathering information needed to investigate and interpret an historical topic for a classroom based assessment (CBA) or History Day project. FREE OF CHARGE

Contact Mark Vessey at 360-586-0219 or to place your reservation.

5) Contact Us

For more information about the Museum’s educational programs or offerings, visit our website at General questions can be directed to us at The History Museum can be found on Facebook and Twitter at HistoryMuseum—friend us there to receive the most up-to-date information.

This issue brought to you by Gwen Perkins, Education Specialist. To reach Gwen directly, email or call 253.798.5927.

To subscribe to this newsletter, please email us at with “subscribe” in the header.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Share your memories

Do you have a personal experience related to the American armed forces? Or a special memory of someone who was or is in military service?

This Veteran's Day (Friday, November 11, 2011) at 2 pm, the History Museum will honor those stories with a special reading of recollections written by or about military service members past and present. We invite members of the public to share your stories with us. We're looking for personal experiences related to this topic of 500 words or less. Anyone may participate. We simply ask that you indicate as part of your submission whether we have permission to post the story in the History Museum and/or read it aloud.

Submissions may be emailed to us at or mailed to:

Memory Project
Washington State History Museum
1911 Pacific Avenue
Tacoma, WA 98402

Although a story can be posted and read anonymously if requested, all submissions must include the name, address, and phone number of the person who wrote it. Submissions become the property of the Washington State Historical Society.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Washington State Historical Society Selects Jennifer Kilmer as New Executive Director

Kilmer’s Ability to Lead Fundraising Efforts Key to Bringing Long-Term Stability to State’s History Museum

TACOMA, Wash. – Jennifer Kilmer, a museum manager with extensive fundraising experience, has been selected by the Washington State Historical Society board of trustees to succeed David Nicandri as its new executive director. The board’s recommendation has been approved by Governor Christine Gregoire.

Kilmer was the board's unanimous choice at a meeting held in Tacoma August 9. Nicandri is scheduled to retire October 7 after twenty-five years as head of the organization. Nicandri's career was highlighted by the construction of a new state history museum in 1996 that led to a civic renaissance in downtown Tacoma.

“David Nicandri has done a tremendous job of making our state's history far more accessible and interesting to far more people than ever before,” said Society President Dan Grimm. "Jennifer Kilmer is uniquely qualified to achieve even more in the years to come.”

Kilmer has been executive director of the Harbor History Museum for the past eight years. She headed a five-year campaign that raised nearly $12 million in public and private funds to build a new museum in Gig Harbor. Harbor Museum attendance has quadrupled since the new facility was completed last August.

“As the flagship historical organization in Washington, the Historical Society plays a critical role in collecting, preserving and sharing our state’s rich history,” said Kilmer. “David Nicandri has built a great foundation for all of us to build on and I’m honored to be chosen by the board of trustees to lead this great institution into the future.”

Kilmer began her career as a grant manager for the Paul G. Allen Family Foundations in Seattle. She also served as the program officer for the Seattle Seahawks Charitable Foundation and worked on a variety of special projects including the development of the Science Fiction Museum at the Seattle Center.

“Jennifer brings to the state an outstanding set of qualities, experience, and impressive academic credentials,” said Society trustee Charles W. Bingham, who led the executive director search. “I think she’s the perfect successor to David Nicandri and has the ability to enhance the society’s stellar reputation and expand opportunities for everyone to benefit from what the Society has to offer.”

Reared in Kansas, Kilmer earned a bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College in 1996. Upon graduation, she was awarded a prestigious Marshall Scholarship and attended the University of Oxford where she attained her master’s degree.

The Washington State History Museum is located at 1911 Pacific Avenue in downtown Tacoma. Information, including visiting hours and admission prices, is available by calling 1-888-BE-THERE (1-888-238-4373) or by visiting


Dan Branley (206) 914-1231

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Columbia's 25th Anniversary

In 2011, COLUMBIA: The Magazine of Northwest History celebrates its 25th year of publication. Throughout the two and a half decades of its existence, the magazine’s staff has striven to maintain the character and quality of the publication John M. McClelland Jr. (1915–2010) brought into being during his tenure on the Washington State Historical Society Board of Trustees.

COLUMBIA should leave intellectual history to the scholarly journals, concentrating instead on narrative history, interpretation of events, and accounts of human achievements and happenings in all areas of endeavor to provide knowledge of what has brought Washington and its people to their present condition.

- John M. McClelland, Jr.

Recently the magazine has taken a few baby steps into the digital realm. The print
version of the magazine is not going away, but a digital edition of the Spring 2011
issue is available for a limited time as a PDF file downloadable from our Web site:

COLUMBIA is one element of McClelland’s cultural legacy that every person in Washington can benefit by. Executive editor and Historical Society director David Nicandri’s eulogy for John McClelland appears on page 2 of the new spring issue.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pictures of Resistance

This came across my desk this morning and it looks fascinating: The Holocaust Center is partnering with Hillel at the University of Washington to bring to Seattle “Pictures of Resistance: The Wartime Photography of Jewish Partisan Faye Schulman” featuring photography from the only known Jewish partisan photographer during the Holocaust.

Remember Daniel Craig in the movie “Defiance”? He played Tuvia Bielski, the commander of the Bielski Partisan group. Tuvia’s granddaughter, Sharon Rennert, will be in Seattle sharing personal stories and footage from her upcoming documentary.

PICTURES OF RESISTANCE: The Wartime Photographs of Jewish Partisan Faye Schulman
Exhibit - January 13 -February 17, 2011
Teacher Workshop - January 14
Hillel, University of Washington, Seattle
Sponsored by the Holocaust Center in partnership with Hillel
More information –

Special Guest! January 13 & 14
Sharon Rennert, granddaughter of Jewish partisan commander Tuvia Bielski.

TEACHER WORKSHOP - January 14, 2011. 8:30am - 3:00pm.
Presentations by: Mitch Braff, "Women in the Partisans," and Sharon Rennert, "In Our Hands: A Personal Story of the Bielski Partisans." Clock hours available. $10 registration fee. Space is limited – More info and to register –

Please note: the Historical Society is not affiliated with this event--we're just spreading the word! The image featured on this post is courtesy of the Washington Holocaust Education Resource Center.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Free Movie Night: “Reel Injun: On the Trail of the Hollywood Indian”

Take an entertaining trip through the evolution of North American Native People (“The Indians”) as portrayed in famous Hollywood movies from the silent era to today. Jim Jarmusch, Clint Eastwood, Graham Greene, John Trudell and others provide insights into the often demanding and occasionally hilariously absurd stereotypes perpetuated on the big screen through Hollywood’s history.

Date: Thursday, October 21, 2010
Time: 6:00 PM
Price: Free Third Thursday Program
Where: Washington State History Museum (Auditorium), 1911 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma 98402

"Reel Injun" traces the evolution of cinema's depiction of Native people from the silent film era to today, with clips from hundreds of classic and recent Hollywood movies, and candid interviews with celebrated Native and non-Native film celebrities, activists, film critics, and historians.

Cree filmmaker Neil Diamond meets with Clint Eastwood at his studios in California, where the film legend discusses the evolution of the image of Indians in Westerns and what cowboy-and-Indian myths mean to America. Reel Injun also hears from legendary Native American activists John Trudell, Russell Means, and Sacheen Littlefeather.

Diamond takes the audience on a journey across America to some of cinema's most iconic landscapes, including Monument Valley, the setting for Hollywood's greatest Westerns, and the Black Hills of South Dakota, home to Crazy Horse and countless movie legends. It's a loving look at cinema through the eyes of the people who appeared in its very first flickering images and have survived to tell their stories their own way.

The Washington State Historical Society joins with Independent Television Service in presenting this Community Cinema Tacoma offering.

Community Cinema is a groundbreaking public education and civic engagement initiative featuring free monthly screenings of films from the Emmy Award-winning PBS series Independent Lens. Community Cinema is on location in more than 60 cities nationally, bringing together leading organizations, community members and public television stations to learn, discuss, and get involved in key social issues of our time. The film screening will be followed by a lively panel discussion with local students, performers and community members.

Image above courtesy of ITVS.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The White Monster of 1910

(If you're coming from Facebook, to see this story in its entirety, click here.)

One of the greatest disasters in American history is also one of Washington's little-known stories. We're in the process of organizing our museum theater program, Ghosts of the Great Hall, and this tale was one of the first that we told.

On February 23, 1910, two Great Northern trains- the Spokane Local, and the Fast Mail train – were stranded at the Wellington Depot in the midst of the worst snowstorm ever seen in the Cascade Mountains. Day after day, the fearful passengers were unable to escape the mountain despite the heroic efforts of the railroad crews to clear the tracks.

In the early morning on the seventh day, a massive avalanche roared down the mountain slope, sweeping both trains off the tracks and into the canyon below.
Of the 125 people sleeping in the cars at the time of the avalanche, 99 were killed, making the Wellington Disaster the most deadly avalanche in America – a record that still stands today.

The History Museum is fortunate to have many of those images in our collections, many of which can be found online. When we uncovered these images, we wanted to share this story.

And so we invite you to listen to our COLUMBIAKids radio program, "The White Monster of 1910," and discover the rest for yourself:

IMAGE: Two locomotives in the snow after the trains were swept down Windy Mountain at Wellington, Washington on March 1, 1910. 1943.42.17461. Washington State Historical Society Collections. To view in its entirety, click here.