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.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Women Unbound: Celebrate the Legacy

If you're a blog reader, you may or may not know that the Washington State Historical Society is doing a lot to celebrate the suffrage centennial through our Washington Women's History Consortium. We were sent an email recently about a cool opportunity to celebrate women's history and just thought that we'd pass it along.

100 years ago, something happened that changed our lives forever....

It's time to celebrate! On November 8th, 1910, women in Washington State were awarded the right to vote. One hundred years later, the Women's Center at the University of Washington is ready to celebrate this incredible accomplishment, as well as one hundred women in our state who have broken barriers in a variety of industries.

Please join them for WOMEN UNBOUND: CELEBRATE THE LEGACY. One hundred Washington women – pioneers in their fields or careers - and our priceless heritage will be honored at a gala at the Seattle Sheraton. Sponsored by the U.W. Women’s Center.

For more information on this event, visit the website at or call 206-685-1090. Please note: the Historical Society is not affiliated with this event--we're just spreading the word!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Oregon Trail - The Movie

One of the things I often wonder as I sit at my computer is how many other people received their first introduction to Pacific Northwest History in the form of the old Oregon Trail computer game. I recall being taken to the computer lab in second grade specifically to play it. We learned about purchasing supplies, caulking covered wagons, and losing family members to just about every disease ever encountered in the 1800s.

And now, someone’s made a mock movie trailer:

Am I the only one who wishes this was a real movie?

"Doing" History

Every once in a while, something really wonderful crosses my desk and this blog post by Kimberly Voss was one of those things.  In it, she explains how she was able to discover the story about journalist Bobbi McCallum in order to write the article featured in an issue of COLUMBIA magazine.  You can check it out online at our website

As Kimberly said in her post: "Often, as scholars, we focus on the results -- what it is we found.  This is the story of how I got to the results."

Friday, July 30, 2010

Twilight (yes, THAT Twilight) in the Northwest

Love them or hate them, the Twilight series of novels and movies has brought attention to Washington’s coastline and the small towns of Forks and LaPush. But what we don’t often think about is the attention that it has brought to the Quileute tribe, featured prominently in this story.

For those of you who’ve never read the series, it features a character named Jacob Black. Jacob is a Quileute who has the ability to transform, along with many other tribal members, into a werewolf.

Of her character, Stephenie Mayer says on her website:
“Lots of people give me more credit than I deserve; they think I knew Jacob was a werewolf from the very beginning. This is not the case. Twilight was supposed to be a stand alone novel, remember. There was no thought of werewolves in my mind as I wrote it. The Quileute (Quill-yoot) legends Jacob tells Bella in chapter six of Twilight are all genuine Quileute stories that I learned when I was researching the tribe (which is a real tribe with a truly fascinating and mystical history). All actual Quileute legends, except for the vampire myth about the 'cold ones.' I latched onto the wolf story (the actual Quileute legend claims that the tribe descended from wolves transformed by a sorcerer) because it fit with my sketchy knowledge of vampires and werewolves always being at each others' throats (ha ha, pun intended).” (Read the rest here)

But what are the actual stories behind the wolves of Twilight? From the WSHS permanent collection, two animal totem masks and a ceremonial drum are on loan to the Seattle Art Museum, as part of a new exhibition examining the Hollywood-style fiction of the wolf as a Native American animal totem in the movie Twilight.

The History Museum is lending both a wolf- and bird-head masks used by the Quileute tribe in dance ceremonies, dating to the late 19th century in the southwest corner of the Clallam County region of Washington State. Comparisons between the film’s use of the wolf as a mythological creature with the real cultural associations the animal has for the Quileute tribe are graphically depicted with the help of masks like these. The Seattle Art Museum’s exhibition, Behind the Scenes: The Real Story of the Quileute Wolves, runs from August 14, 2010 – August 14, 2011.

So if you (or someone you know) is on Team Jacob, consider checking out this exhibition to find out the real story.

More information about native culture and the Behind the Scenes exhibit can be found on the web at the following places:
To learn more about Native culture, visit the History Museum’s In the Spirit: Contemporary Northwest Native Arts Exhibition on display through September 19. A corresponding festival with salmon bake, performances, art sale, and more, is August 7 and 8, 10 AM-5 PM daily at the History Museum in downtown Tacoma. Check out for details about the “In the Spirit” celebration.

- Gwen

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Center for Columbia River History Announces 2010 James B. Castles Fellow

Formed in 1990, the Center for Columbia River History is a consortium of the Washington State Historical Society, Portland State University and Washington State University Vancouver. Located on the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, its mission is to promote the study of Columbia River Basin history. CCRH conducts interdisciplinary research projects, publishes material in text and electronic formats, sponsors free public programs and teacher workshops, and develops curricula. It collaborates with other historical and cultural institutions and offers programs to schools, libraries, historical societies and public groups throughout the Columbia River Basin, a region that includes territory in seven states (Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Wyoming, and Utah) and one Canadian province (British Columbia).

Each year, CCRH selects a James B. Castles Fellow, conducts original scholarly research that contributes to public understanding of the history of the Columbia River Basin. The Castles Fellowship is made possible by an endowment provided by the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust to CCRH in honor of James B. Castles, a founding trustee who promoted the heritage of the Columbia River throughout his life. This year's recipient is Johanna Ogden, an independent scholar who recently earned an M.A. in History at the University of British Columbia (2010). Her interests and publications have ranged from the Bracero Program in Hood River to Conscientious Objectors on the Oregon Coast during World War II. Most recently, she has investigated the immigration and activities of Punjabi Sikh laborers along the Columbia River in Washington and Oregon. In this effort, she has tied regional immigrant communities to the Ghadar Party, an early 20th Century Indian independence movement. Ms. Ogden's work fits into the CCRH Columbia River and the World Initiative. She plans to use the fellowship funds to broaden her archival research in the region and to revise a portion of her thesis, "Oregon and Global Insurgency: Punjabis of the Columbia River Basin," into an article-length manuscript. In addition, she will collaborate with CCRH staff to craft an internet product based on her work.

Learn more about the Castles Endowment, including the fellowship, lectureship, and public programs it supports.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!

Main Street Coordinator - If you followed the twists and turns of the state budget last year, especially as it relates to heritage, you know that the Main Street program was endangered. Luckily, it moved to the Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, and will be managed by the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. Here's the position description: The Main Street Coordinator will be responsible for coordinating and delivering services primarily to Washington State Main Street members as well as build interest in downtown revitalization statewide. He or she will be responsible for promoting the program, aid communities in forming local Main Street revitalization efforts, and document progress based on national standards. Main Street is a program of the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation that is managed by the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. The Main Street Coordinator will be hired by the Washington Trust as an independent contractor for a one-year period. The position may be extended at the end of year one if funding is available. The Main Street Coordinator will report directly to the Washington Trust Executive Director and will work in close collaboration with the Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer. The successful candidate must live in or move to Washington State. Relocation to Seattle is not required. To apply, submit a cover letter and resume to Jennifer Meisner, Executive Director,  by July 9, 2010. 

Administrator, Ezra Meeker Historical Society - Part-time position; duties include supervision of staff, recruitment, training and coordination of volunteers; general administration of the society; evaluation and implementation of historical programs and activities; curatorial duties which include the preservation and restoration of the Meeker Mansion. Screening of applications will begin immediately. E-mail your resume.

Grants Manager
and Development Manager, Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience.

EMP | Experience Music Project Adult Audience Specialist - As a member of the education department, the Adult Audience Specialist is an active exhibition team participant, designing innovative gallery experiences and museum programs for adults and general visitors. The specialist will work with museum curators and educators to plan, and develop content related to both the museum's music- and science fiction-related exhibitions. In addition, the specialist will collaborate closely with the education staff to help the department design and deliver a full range of complementary programs that meet the needs of adult audiences. This is a temporary, part-time position (30 hours per week) July 1, 2010 - December 31, 2011. More information at . To apply, E-mail resume and cover letter referencing "Audience" in the subject line.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

State Library Announce Summer Book Selections

The Washington State Library compiles dozens of interesting book lists, perhaps none more so than State Librarian Jan Walsh's seasonal reads. To jump-start summer (assuming we actually get summer this year), she's chosen nine books on the theme "Washington as Place." You can read Jan's comments on each book here. The full list:

  • George Beahm with the Forks Chamber of Commerce, Twilight Tours: An Illustrated Guide to the REAL Forks, 2009.
  • Susan Colleen Browne, Little Farm in the Foothills: A Boomer Couple's Search for the Slow Life, 2009.
  • David C. Dykstra, Lake Washington 130 Homes: A Guided Tour of the Lake's Most Magnificent Homes, 2009.
  • Kurt Hoetling, The Circumference of Home: One Man's Yearlong Quest for a Radically Local Life, 2010.
  • Lloyd Kahn, Builders of the Pacific Coast, 2008.
  • Lawrence Kreisman and Glenn Mason, The Arts and Crafts Movement in the Pacific Northwest, 2007 (don't miss this wonderful exhibit at the Washington State History Museum, August 7 - November 28).
  • Craig Romano, Columbia Highlands: Exploring Washington's Last Frontier, 2007
  • Ann Leda Shapiro, My Island, 2009.
  • John Skewes and Robert Schwartz, Seattle ABC, 2009.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Professional Development Around the Region - June-July

Washington and its neighbors are hosting some cool opportunities to learn, connect, and advance your museum skills in the next month or so:

- Washington Museum Association Annual Conference, June 16-18, Gig Harbor - With keynote speaker Nina Simon, this year's conference looks like a winner.

- Advanced Section 106 Seminar, July 15, Seattle - An in-depth look at consultation and resolving conflicts between development plans and historic preservation values under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

- Care and Identification of Photographs, July 22-25, Seattle - This 4-day workshop is an introduction to the history, identification, and preservation of photographic materials. Participants will acquire hands-on identification skills and learn practical photograph preservation techniques. Knowledge about photographic processes is essential to their preservation and leads to a greater appreciation of the aesthetics and history of photographic prints. Due to the hands-on nature of this workshop, the number of participants will be limited to 12. The Academy of Certified Archivists (ACA), a certifying organization of professional archivists, will award 15 Archival Recertification Credits (ARCs) to eligible Certified Archivists (CAs) attending this workshop.

- Instructional Workshop on Museum Registration, July 24, Auburn - This workshop is intended for heritage organization staff and volunteers who are involved in accepting and cataloguing new donations, and managing collections records. It will break down, in detail, budget-friendly, simple methods for the entire process of accessioning and cataloging objects, including how to incorporate an electronic database into your cataloguing process and meeting professional standards set by the American Museum Association. To register, call 253-288-7439 or E-mail.

Collections Camp: Textiles, July 28-30, Carson City, Nevada - This three day workshop will focus on the care and conservation of textiles in museum collections. Spend time working with conservators and textile experts to learn how to be a better steward of your textile collection.

Monday, May 24, 2010

COLUMBIAKids Takes Silver!

From the AAM MUSE Awards held last night, this notice just posted:

Washington State History Museum

Judges said:
COLUMBIAKids is a very attractive website which functions like an on-line magazine. The site should be commended for involving children's authors and illustrators to work on the content which makes the site more appealing to the young readers. It is a useful resource for teachers. The site has many interesting sections to engage the readers - the jurors especially like CollectionConundrum which teaches children how to look at objects and PodPuzzle.

Read more at:

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Author! Author!

We're pretty proud of our director, Dave Nicandri. In our humble opinion, he runs one of the best historical organizations in the country. When he's not doing that, he's a historian--and his new book is coming out later this month. Here's what the press is saying:

"River of Promise: Lewis and Clark on the Columbia River, fills a significant gap in our understanding of the legendary expedition. Nicandri shifts the focus to a fundamental goal of the explorers: to discover the headwaters of the Columbia and a water route to the Pacific Ocean. He also restores William Clark to his role as primary geographic problem-solver of the partnership. Most historians assume that Meriwether Lewis was a more distinguished scientist than Clark because of his formal training in Philadelphia and superior writing skills. Here we see Clark as Lewis’s equal in scientific geography, not merely the practical manager of boats and personnel.

"Nicandri places the oft-mythologized Sacagawea in clearer perspective by focusing instead on the contributions of often-overlooked Indian leaders in Columbia River country. He also offers points of comparison to other explorers and a provocative analysis of Lewis’s suicide in 1809, arguing that it was not a rash decision brought about by despair, but the fruit of a seed planted much earlier—quite possibly in Columbia country."

Join Dave at the State Capital Museum on May 20 at 7 PM for a talk with humanities scholar Clay Jenkinson of The Dakota Institute. Enjoy Lewis and Clark themed refreshments (boudin blanc? bear steaks? who knows?)and get your copy signed! More information here.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tonight at the Washington State History Museum--March 18, 2010


The Kim Archer Band performed at the Museum on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and are back by popular demand. This time they’ll take you on a musical journey with their smooth, jamming mix of jazz, blues, and rock-n-roll. Included in the show are short commentaries on the history of the artists, the songs, and why they have stayed popular throughout the decades. Bring your dancing shoes!

(And by the way, admission to the Museum is FREE tonight after 2 pm!)

On the Mezzanine.

Coming April 15…It’s a CHESS RUMBLE! Stay tuned to this blog to find out more.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Free “Washington Icons” Teacher Workshop at the History Museum

Free “Washington Icons” Teacher Workshop at the History Museum
Saturday, April 10, 2010
8 am to 12 pm

If you were to pick an icon (person, place, or thing) what would it be? Join us for a special in-depth look at the “Icons of Washington History” exhibit and discover the key moments in Washington’s past. This workshop features the new online curriculum module by the same name, and as a huge added bonus, it’s FREE. Free lunch! Free clock hours! Free workshop! Does it get any better than that in these tough economic times?

For teachers new to the state, new to teaching regional history, or simply looking for a new look at a familiar subject, this half-day workshop is a must-do. Participants will join our education staff on a journey through Washington’s past and present, looking at the people, places, and objects that define our region. This content-based workshop will start out with a brief overview of Pacific Northwest history, then we’ll explore strategies for teaching with objects that you can use in your classroom using the “Icons of Washington History” online module.

In addition, we’ll provide loads of resources to help you book and prepare for a museum visit as well as integrate Washington and Pacific Northwest history in your classroom. Whether you’re a teacher, librarian, principal, or homeschooling parent, this workshop is for you!

The workshop, museum visit, lunch and 3.5 clock hours are provided FREE through the generous sponsorship of the Ben B. Cheney Foundation! Don’t miss this great opportunity!

To register, email with your name, school and number of participants (plus a contact email address) or call 253.798.5927.

Apply for Scholarships, Awards at Washington Museums Association Conference

This year's WMA conference is June 16-18 in Gig Harbor--a great opportunity to see the new Harbor History Museum. WMA offers four scholarships to help underwrite costs associated with attending, as well as several awards that recognize excellence in exhibits, projects and publications.

All the information is online--but be quick! The deadline is March 26.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Great Moments in Northwest Women's History

1848 - Women’s Rights Convention at Seneca Falls
1871 - Susan B. Anthony visits Washington Territory
1910 - Washington women win the right to vote
1912 - Oregon women win the right to vote
1920 - The 19th Amendment passes, guaranteeing all American women the right to vote
1977 – International Women’s Year Conference at Ellensburg

Be part of the next great moment in women’s history!
Share your research and experience at “Game Changers and History Makers: Women in the Pacific Northwest,” the 63rd Pacific Northwest History Conference, November 3-5. This special gathering commemorates the centennial of Washington women’s suffrage and will feature nationally known speakers and compelling stories, all at Spokane’s historic Davenport Hotel. Proposals are encouraged for any topic on the theme of women in the Pacific Northwest. The anniversary of this momentous development in Washington history offers opportunities to consider women’s influence in the Pacific Northwest in a variety of arenas. Complete details online.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Historic Preservation Blogs to Watch

One of the best things about the Washington State Historical Society is the many opportunities to partner with other state agencies and organizations whose primary focus is history. And one of our favorites is the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation (DAHP). They're housed just down the street from the State Capital Museum in Olympia, in a historically cool modernist building with big plate-glass windows. If you're walking up Capitol Way from downtown, you're likely to see State Historic Preservation Officer Allyson Brooks at her desk, working hard to ensure that Washington's historic places are preserved and managed appropriately.

DAHP runs a blog worth checking out: it's a panoply of historic preservation doings around the state and nation. A recent entry made note of an NPR story about a green building project in California, Historic Seattle's upcoming workshop series, and the 2010 Public Archaeology Field School at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site and Lava Beds National Monument.

The blog has an easy-to-use subscribe feature, so you can receive postings (on a regular, but not-too-frequent basis) in your email inbox. If historic preservation matters to you, consider signing up for this blog's feed.

Historic Seattle also recently launched its blog, MAin2, named for Seattle telephone exchange codes used a half-century ago. While its primary focus is preservation issues in the Seattle area, writers go far afield too. Last week, we enjoyed posts about historic preservation and culture in Cuba, and learned about the federal government's proposed historic preservation budget. Like DAHP's, this has a quick subscribe link, and like DAHP's blog, MAin2 is worth checking out.

What historic preservation blogs do you like?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Rural Eastern Washington Life in the Early 20th Century

We are quite fond of The Scout Report, a weekly list of interesting websites produced by the University of Wisconsin. The list recently included a link to the Frank A. Matsura Image Collection at the Washington State University Digital Collections. It's well worth a look, and it's always affirming to see more digital resources available.

The Scout Report's summary review says: After coming to the United States from Japan in 1905, Frank S. Matsura stopped in Seattle and then moved across the Cascades to the city of Okanogan, WA. As a photographer, he was involved in his own practice and in documenting the changes in the environment as the city expanded and the Conconully Dam was built nearby. Matsura was a very active member of the community, and he created a playground for local children and he was fond of dressing up in strange hats and costumes. This delightful digital archive of his work was created by the Washington State University Libraries Digital Collections, and it contains almost 1600 of his photographs. Users can look through the "Predefined Searches" section for a few highlights organized into areas like "automobiles", "children", and "Native Americans". Overall, the site offers a rather unique glimpse into early 20th century life in rural eastern Washington.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Fay Fuller's Boots and Minty Mudslides

It's all in the latest issue of COLUMBIAkids. Learn about the first woman known to have climbed Mount Rainier--in 1890, just after Washington became a state. What clothes did she wear (no Gore-Tex available then)? What about climbing boots?

And while we're asking questions... Why is Princess Ariadne of Crete lounging around the Washington State History Research Center? Who is the ghost looking for her daughters in the lighthouse? What's a wabit basket? How did Pah-toe, Wy-east, and Loo-wit resolve their differences?

The answers, along with a recipe for no-bake Minty Mudslide cookies (perfect to munch while you're reading) are available in the new COLUMBIAkids.

How to Build a Dinosaur

Can dinosaurs be brought back to life? Is there a velociraptor lurking in the cells of every chicken? Does extinction have to be forever? Dr. Jack Horner is revered among those with an interest in dinosaurs, and our friends at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture will host the paleontologist on Friday, March 5 at 7:00 PM in UW Kane Hall 130. Ticket information at

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Why we do this

Yesterday, the State Capital Museum hosted Nicolette Bromberg of UW's Special Collections. She works with visual resources, such as film and photography, and she spun a fascinating story about her research into Viretta Chambers Denny, a turn-of-the-century woman photographer in Washington State.

Bromberg first encountered Denny when she found an album of her photographs at an auction. She was intrigued, she said, because there isn't much known about early woman photographers, and she determined to bid on the album and another lot, a box of lantern slides and glass plate negatives. She suspected they might be related to the album because it's typical in auctions to break up items into smaller, saleable units.

After a brief bidding war, she won the album. Her opponent sought her out during a break and asked if she was going to bid on the box of negatives and slides. When Bromberg confirmed that she was, he offered to buy it and then split the contents (he wanted the slides, she wanted the negatives). She agreed, he won the box, and they divided the contents.

When she got back to her office, she quickly realized that the glass plate negatives were, in fact, the source of the photographs in the album, although there were more negatives than prints. She also confirmed that the album contained photographs by Viretta Chambers Denny, who was descended from two important pioneer families: the Dennys, who helped found modern Seattle, and the Chamberses, one of Thurston County's earliest families.

The photos in the albums included captions, things like "Deschutes River" and "Ravenna Lake," that helped Bromberg pinpoint their locations. She was excited to have what was now a sizable collection of photographs and negatives from this early woman photographer, and the photographs were technically solid and pleasingly composed: nature scenes, a few shots of people.

A few months later, Bromberg was looking for a project to give students in the museum studies program. She came across an old album that had no identification and was about to pass it over (too difficult a project for the class) when she flipped it open and thought, "I know that picture!" It was another Viretta Chambers Denny photo--as were the rest in the album--and they matched some of the glass plate negatives Bromberg had purchased at the auction. Suddenly, the whole album was identified and could be added to the nascent Denny collection.

Then, a few months after that, Bromberg was looking through the old photograph subject files for another picture. Years ago, when photographs were donated to archives, it was standard practice to separate them and label them by subject if no other identification existed. Nowadays, of course, we would never do that, instead leaving the collection intact and conducting research to learn more about it. Still, UW and other archives have subject files for photographs, and they are a useful if sometimes frustrating resource.

At any rate, Bromberg was looking through the subject files for something else entirely when she came upon a picture she recognized instantly. Yup: another Viretta Chambers Denny. She then combed the entire subject file catalog and found still more photographs that had, up until then, not been identified. This expanded the Denny collection still further.

And as Bromberg noted in her talk, having more photos to include in the collection helped her understand Viretta Chambers Denny better. She was able to study the photographs and develop some interpretation about Denny's style, for example.

It was a fascinating talk, highlighting what is so rewarding about historical research. It's those little a-ha! moments, when you see a link that hadn't been apparent before, or when you can definitively connect events or people or places.

That wasn't the end of the story, though. When Bromberg finished her talk, a few audience members made comments. One woman said that she her husband was a Chambers descendant, and that she had three pictures on her piano at home--of Viretta Chambers Denny, most likely. Bromberg has not conclusively identified the photographer in a picture, so this was an exciting lead.

Another woman identified a woman in one of the photos that Bromberg showed as Viretta's sister--adding knowledge to the story--and noted that although there are many Chambers descendants in Thurston County and beyond, only two or three are identified by that last name, including Washington Supreme Court Justice Tom Chambers. Then a distinguished-looking gentleman across the room raised his hand and said, "I'm Tom Chambers." In the course of an hourlong talk, Bromberg made new contacts that will help her research into Viretta Chambers Denny.

It's that combination of hard work, sharp eyes, vigilance, and happy accident that combine to make doing history so gratifying. I've often felt that in my own research into the North Cascades: there are long periods of slogging through primary sources, trying to make sense of it all. Then, every once in a while--often just when you really need a boost--pieces fall into place, the story becomes clear, the light bulb goes on. It makes it all worthwhile.

Thanks, Nicolette, for reminding us why we do this.

A different point of view

Four Points of Washington
February 27 at the Washington State History Museum

People from around Washington submitted photographs for the “Four Points of Washington” program in 2009, and their digital art will be on view in a large screen lobby display at the History Museum. The photographs are displayed in sets of four, showing different views or aspects of places around the state. The project was designed to generate an archive of Washington views, and the photographs were inducted into the Historical Society’s digital photography collection.

For a sneak peek, check out this online photo gallery devoted to Four Points at

Skagit Valley tulips, photographed by Jenn Chushcoff, April 29, 2009. (Washington State Historical Society/Jenn Chushcoff)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Extry! Extry! Read All About It in Historic Newspapers Online!

The Library of Congress's Chronicling America website is a treasure trove of historic newspapers around the country. Recently, the Washington State Library contributed more than 42,000 pages from eight Washington newspapers to the collection--which already had more than 2,000 Washington titles. These are the new adds:

Colfax Gazette 1900-1912
Colville Examiner 1907-1922
Commonwealth (Everett) 1911-1914
Leavenworth Echo 1904-1922
Pullman Herald 1888-1893; 1907-1922
Ranch (Seattle) 1902-1914
Seattle Republican 1903-1913
Washington Farmer 06-15-1914

But really, it's just fun to meander around the Washington newspapers generally. Happy reading!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

How can one person change a life?

"Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don't know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!" --Anne Frank

The Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center is sponsoring a writing contest for students this year. 2010 is particularly special because of an honor that the center has recently received.

As some of you may already know, in her diary, Anne Frank wrote about a tree growing outside her window. In order to preserve the legacy of the aging tree, saplings were grown. The Holocaust Center, in partnership with Seattle Parks and Recreation, was selected as the home for one of these rare saplings. Only 11 places in the United States will receive them. (Visit this site to learn more.)

Check out the information below to find out more about this contest and how you (or a student you know) can participate.

Jacob Friedman Holocaust Writing and Art Contest
Open to students in grades 5-12 in the Pacific Northwest (WA, OR, ID, AK)
Entries accepted now through April 2, 2010
Sponsored by the Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center

This year’s contest asks students to consider how their lives might be different if people were more respectful and tolerant of each other’s differences.

Last year the Center received over 800 entries. The 2009 winners can be found on the Holocaust Center’s website – The Holocaust Center is a non-profit organization with a mission to support educators teaching about the Holocaust, genocide, and related lessons of stereotyping, and the difference one person can make.

(Photograph on this post courtesy of the Anne Frank Trust.)

Friday, January 22, 2010

More links? Why not? Local History Resources, at your service

Done plowing through the previous lists of links? Here's one more. The last one. For now. Needless to say, we don't vouch for the content of these websites. Want to add your organization to the list? Drop us an email. We'll update these lists periodically.

Humanities Washington
Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture
Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center
Washington State Jewish Historical Society
Heritage League of Pierce County
Tacoma Historical Society
League of Snohomish County Heritage Organizations
Historic Seattle
Puget Sound Civil War Round Table
Seattle Municipal Archives
Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society
Historic Tacoma
Bainbridge Island Historical Society and Museum
Rainier Valley Historical Society
Robert E. Lee Chapter 885, UDC
Sequim Museum and Arts Center
Architectural Heritage Center
Skagit County Historical Museum

More links: National History Resources

If you work in public history, these won't be new to you. But if you haven't checked these sites in a while, take a gander. All offer helpful resources, including job postings and discussions.

American Association for State and Local History
American Association of Museums
AAM Advocacy
National Park Service
National Archives and Records Administration
National Trust for Historic Preservation
National Preservation Institute
Save America's Treasures
Chronicle of Philanthropy

All the links you could want - State History Resources

Herewith, a list of state resources in history. Some are state agencies and programs, others are statewide nonprofits. We'll post national and local resources soon, too.

Washington State Historical Society
Women's History Consortium
Washington Museums Association
Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation
Washington Trust for Historic Preservation
Washington State Downtown Revitalization Program
Washington State Arts Commission
Washington State Parks and Recreation
Secretary of State, Division of Archives
Washington State Library
Washington State Tourism
Washington State Legislature
Center for Columbia River History
Burke Museum
Washington State Department of Transportation Cultural Resources Program

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Western Museums Association: Practically Next Door in 2010

The Western Museums Association -- WMA, WestMuse, call it what you want -- is accepting proposals for its 2010 conference in Portland. Deadline is January 15; submission guidelines online. It's so close, and Portland is (let's face it) so fun, why not apply? The super-convenient downtown site means that attendees can leave their cars at home: take Amtrak to Union Station, hop on the Max and you're there. The October 18-21 dates mean we just might scrape by with the last of the reliably good weather, too. It's a great time to visit the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, and check out the Land Bridge, a legacy of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial commemoration and a compelling way to reconnect to the Columbia River.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Come celebrate MLK on January 18!


Giants in the Mountains: The Search for Sasquatch Opens January 23

Explore the Sasquatch mystery in Giants in the Mountains: The Search for Sasquatch, on view January 23 through June 27 at the Washington State History Museum.

Who or what is Sasquatch? Why are sightings in Washington the highest in the nation?

This exploration of the Sasquatch story focuses on the Pacific Northwest environment which has created a rich setting for the traditional beliefs that have grown up around this being. The relationship of Northwesterners to the land, particularly its deep forests and imposing mountains, has led explorers and travelers further into the depths of our region.

How have scientists attempted to explain and investigate the Sasquatch phenomenon? Physical evidence collected in the field by anthropologist Dr. Grover Krantz will be on display. Discovery Channel expert and Bigfoot author, Dr. Jeffery Meldrum of Idaho State University has contributed to the exhibit recently gathered field evidence including special foot and hand casts.

Supposed hoaxes and popular cultural interpretations of Bigfoot are featured in the exhibit including memorabilia from the Sasquatch Music Festival, Bigfoot Ale, Sasquatch Press, and the Seattle SuperSonics Squatch Collection.

Worldwide and across time, tales of larger-than-life creatures have been told. Tribal artifacts and artwork will convey Native cultural beliefs. On loan from the Maryhill Museum of Art is a prehistoric, ape-like Stone Head found in the Columbia Basin. Created especially for the exhibit is a full size mural of the legendary Dzoonokwa or “Basket Women” of the forests. Carved masks by Native artists are featured in the gallery. From werewolves to wild men, stories of beings both animal and man have been told across time. Some of these legends are explored in the exhibit. Also featured is artwork by cryptid illustrator Rick Spears.

Join the History Museum to discover the unique Northwest connection to Sasquatch. To support this special exhibition, we are hosting a number of programs that connect to the Sasquatch story.

SASQUATCH Programs for 2010
January 21, 2010

6:30 pm
Are you a Squatch Watcher? Do you yearn to know the truth behind the tales of Sasquatch? Then join us for this special “Behind the Scenes” walk-through with the curators of Giants in the Mountains: The Search for Sasquatch. You’ll be amazed by prehistoric stone heads, native masks, footprint casts, and the world map of Sasquatch-like beings. Are you a believer?

February 6 < 1–3 PM February 18 < 6:30 PM

Tours commence every half hour
Interact with iconic Washingtonians in this program that brings historical figures to life. Meet Ronald Debs Ginther, an artist who painted life during the Great Depression; rock out with Jimi Hendrix; search for Sasquatch with Dr. Grover Krantz; and work on a railroad with Anna Lind, a logging camp cook for Northern Pacific Railroad. This program is FREE with Museum admission.

March 6 < 1-3 PM

Tours commence every half hour

Uncover some of Washington's unsolved mysteries with characters from the past. Hunt for lost treasure with D. B. Cooper, a Washington skyjacker who disappeared with his loot; hear a ghost story from Percy Buck, sole survivor of the Andelana shipwreck; search for Sasquatch with Dr. Grover Krantz, and question William H. Gilstrap, the Historical Society's first curator and secretary who was locked away during the "Great Tozier Heist." This program is FREE with Museum admission.

June 5 < Times TBD

Bob Gimlin & Dr. Jeffrey Meldrum

Of special interest is the appearance in western Washington of two giants of the story of Sasquatch: Bob Gimlin and Dr. Jeffrey Meldrum.

One of the most famous pieces of Sasquatch evidence is the Patterson-Gimlin film made in northern California. This film features a female Bigfoot striding next to a sandy creek. Scientists world-wide have studied this film and remain divided upon its authenticity, however, the filmmakers Bob Gimlin and the late Roger Patterson have stood by their photographic evidence. Expedition partner and outfitter Bob Gimlin will join us for an audience discussion about his experience on the Bluff Creek expedition and the famous encounter on the trail, made immortal in the 24 feet of film images Patterson recorded.

Dr. Jeffrey Meldrum of Idaho State University and author of Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science will also be discussing his collected evidence. Dr. Meldrum is frequently seen on the Discovery Channel, the History Channel, and the National Geographic Channel among others. His book is the companion volume to the highly successful Discovery Channel documentary of the same name. A professor of anatomy and anthropology, his work encompasses the evaluation of hominid footprints, including those attributed to Sasquatch, both in the lab and the field. The exhibit features casts made by Dr. Meldrum in Eastern Washington.

A BIG thank you to illustrator Rick Spears for the pictures accompanying this blog post.