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Happy 10th birthday to our Digital Archives!

by Brian Zylstra | October 22nd, 2014 12:21 pm | No Comments


View outside of Washington State Digital Archives. (Photos courtesy of Washington State Archives)

We’re proud to wish a happy 10th birthday to the world’s first built-from-the-ground digital archives facility. The Washington State Digital Archives had its grand opening on Oct. 4, 2004.

The Digital Archives is co-located in the same building with the Washington State Archives’ Eastern Regional Branch on the Eastern Washington University campus in Cheney. The Digital Archives includes a state-of-the-art research room, complete with computer research stations, a high-tech presentation classroom and a world-class data center.

The award-winning facility is popular with genealogists, historians and researchers.

State Archivist Steve Excell:

“Thanks to the Washington State Digital Archives, people can access records, photos and other documents in just a few clicks from a computer or other digital device. We’re proud that it’s the first of its kind in the world and that it allows us to preserve born digital records and make them available to one and all.”

During its decade of existence, the Digital Archives’ collection has steadily grown to nearly 150 million digital records. Among its more popular items are the Treasures of the Archives, which includes Gov. Elisha P. Ferry’s oath of office in 1889, the year Washington became a state. continue reading


CFD Masquerade Ball draws a crowd


Secretary Wyman (third from left) and other guests gather in her office during the ball. (Photo courtesy of Heather Lucas)

The Legislative Building is usually considered the place where many statewide officials are headquartered and where  lawmakers meet each winter to do the business of the people.

But it was Olympia’s social epicenter Saturday night, as more than 300 people gathered there for the third annual Combined Fund Drive Masquerade Ball for charity.

The Office of Secretary of State, CFD and Department of Archeology and Historical Preservation once again co-hosted the event. Secretary of State Kim Wyman greeted revelers. Various forms of entertainment were found on each floor, including the popular casino night in the Columbia Room and psychics reading tarot cards in the Treasurer’s Office. Professional photographs of the attendees were taken in the State Reception Room.

The ball raised more than $7,000 (after expenses) for the CFD. (Last year’s ball raised more than $6,000.) There were 28 different charities on hand to connect with donors through vendor booths on the fourth floor of the building. There also was a silent auction featuring Cardinals-Seahawks tickets, a silver bracelet and a vintage pearl necklace, among other items for sale.

The CFD gives thanks to all attendees, volunteers and performers.

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Oct. 27 in-person registration deadline before fall election


If you’re not currently registered to vote in Washington and want to vote in the General Election, Oct. 27 is your last chance. That’s the deadline to register in person at your county elections department. King County has two locations where people can register: County election headquarters at 919 SW Grady Way in Renton, and the county’s voter registration annex at the King County Administration Building, 500 4th Ave., Room 440 in Seattle.

To register to vote, you must be:
• A United States citizen
• A legal resident of Washington State
• At least 18 years old by Election Day
• Not disqualified from voting due to a court order
• Not under state Department of Corrections supervision for a Washington felony conviction.

Secretary of State Kim Wyman urged unregistered, but eligible residents to act quickly, and not get left out of this important civic duty and privilege.

The General Election voting period ends Nov. 4. Three statewide initiatives are on the ballot: Initiative 591, which would prohibit government agencies from requiring background checks on firearm recipients unless a uniform national standard is required; I-594, which would require universal background checks on gun purchases; and I-1351, which would lower class sizes in public schools. There also are two nonbinding Advisory Votes on the ballot. Results of the Advisory Votes will not change state law. Rather, voters are being asked to advise the Legislature to repeal or maintain any of two revenue-increase bills passed by the Legislature this year.

You can learn more about the General Election by looking at the Voters’ Pamphlet mailed to all Washington households, viewing our online Voters Guide, watching TVW’s 2014 Video Voters’ Guide, which includes statements from supporters and opponents of the three statewide initiatives, or by reading our General Election Fact Sheet.

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Wyman & Ferguson: Don’t get scammed when giving to charity

Kim with KOMO's Connie Thompson

KOMO-TV’s Connie Thompson interviews Secretary Wyman.

With the holidays approaching, commercial fundraisers will ask for donations they say will go to charities. But Secretary of State Kim Wyman and Attorney General Bob Ferguson are urging Washingtonians to think before they give.

The two statewide officials spent Thursday morning doing TV and radio interviews to share tips — and warnings — on how to give wisely during the holiday season and beyond, and how to beware of unscrupulous fundraising.

Said Wyman:

“Washingtonians are very generous and big-hearted. As we were reminded after the Oso tragedy last spring and the wildfires in north-central Washington last summer, many of us give money to help those in need, whether it’s here or around the world. Unfortunately, scammers can victimize people if donors aren’t careful and do their homework before they give. We want to help people avoid being ripped off.”

Added Ferguson:

“Charity scams increase during the holidays. It is important to exercise caution and make sure your money helps those who truly need it.”

The Secretary of State’s Charities Program  released the latest figures in its Commercial Fundraiser Activity Report. The report can be seen here. Some takeaways:

  • Charities that used commercial fundraisers received an average of 48 percent of contributions, slightly higher than the 46 percent found in the 2012 and 2013 reports but lower than 56 percent reported in 2011.
  • Eight fundraisers returned more than 80 percent of total contributions to their charity clients, but 22 returned less than 20 percent of the funds raised to their clients.
  • More than $572 million was raised in Washington and elsewhere by the 129 million commercial fundraisers included in the report, about $50 million more than the amount for the period ending last December.
  • There currently are about 10,300 charities registered in Washington. Of those, 632 report using paid fundraising services.

Here is a link showing the report’s history.

The officials advise consumers to contact potential charities directly. For more information on finding charities, visit the SOS charity lookup here.  You can also contact the OSOS Charities Hotline at 1-800-332-4483. If a consumer believes they have been scammed, contact the AGO at 1-800-551-4636.

Here are ways to avoid getting scammed by those seeking donations:
•    Ask the caller to send written information about the organization.
•    Beware if the caller offers to send a courier to collect your donation immediately.
•    Don’t give in to high-pressure solicitations that demand an instant commitment. Just hang up!
•    If you decide to donate, write a check and make it payable to the charity.
•    Never send cash or give your credit card or bank account number.
•    Don’t be fooled by a name. Some organizations use similar-sounding names, or names that closely resemble those of respected, well-established charities. Be sure to check them out.

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Getting a sneak peek at 1889 WA exhibit


Our office’s next great historical exhibit, Washington 1889: Blazes, Rails & the Year of Statehood, should be ready for the public to see on Tuesday, Oct. 21.  Secretary Wyman enjoyed a sneak peak of the exhibit panels. She and our office’s Legacy Washington staff joined Washington State Historical Society Executive Director Jennifer Kilmer (second from right in the photo below)  in checking out the panels shortly after they arrived. The exhibit’s official opening is Nov. 11 at 4 p.m., following festivities in the Capitol celebrating Washington’s 125th anniversary of statehood.


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Your Voters’ Pamphlet is coming soon!


(Image courtesy of State Elections Division)

Are you ready to vote in the General Election this fall? Make sure to first check your mail for one of the most useful educational tools you can have before you fill out your ballot!

The centennial edition of the General Election Voters’ Pamphlet is being mailed throughout Washington this week. If you receive a damaged Voters’ Pamphlet or you don’t receive your copy by Oct. 22, please call our Voter Hotline at (800) 448-4881 or e-mail the Elections Division at elections@sos.wa.gov for assistance.

The Voters’ Pamphlet also is available in Spanish, Chinese and Vietnamese, as mandated by federal law. The Chinese and Vietnamese versions are for King County, and Spanish-English bilingual editions are mailed in Adams, Franklin and Yakima counties.

The Voters’ Pamphlet, provided by our Elections Division, is packed with useful information about state candidates and measures found on this fall’s ballot. It includes info on the three statewide initiatives on the ballot: Initiative 1351, which aims to lower class sizes in Washington public schools; Initiative 591, which would prohibit government agencies from requiring background checks on firearm recipients unless a uniform national standard is required; and I-594, which would require universal background checks on gun purchases. The popular voter education booklet also has information on the two nonbinding Advisory Votes on revenue-related bills passed by the state Legislature this year.

Here are some facts and figures about this year’s Voters’ Pamphlet: continue reading

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Honoring our dedicated volunteers


Secretary Wyman presents volunteer Rose Banks with the Roger Easton Award of Excellence. (Photo courtesy of  Mary Hammer)

Hundreds of volunteers play an important role in our office, collectively devoting thousands of hours of their time doing tasks like transcribing and indexing digitized documents online using Scribe software for our State Digital Archives and doing on-site projects in processing and research for our State Library, Washington Talking Book & Braille Library and Legacy Project. Their tireless dedication makes it possible for our staff to accomplish so much more.

Many of these volunteers and their families gathered at the Ellensburg Rodeo Grounds Tuesday for the annual Volunteer Recognition Event. Secretary Wyman thanked the volunteers for their dedication and tireless work.  Wyman later presented the Roger Easton Award of Excellence to Rose Banks of Cheney for being the first volunteer to transcribe and index 100,000 digital records using Scribe. Congratulations to Rose and all of our wonderful volunteers!

There are currently 50,977,718 records searchable online at the Digital Archives, due in large part to the work of volunteers.

GC2G exhibit gone; WA 1889 exhibit coming soon


It seemed like yesterday, not over a year ago, that the popular Grand Coulee to Grunge exhibit first appeared on the walls in our front lobby in the Capitol.

The exhibit showcased what’s made Washington great and world famous since it attained statehood in 1889, including our triumphs in aerospace, agriculture, engineering and technology. The exhibit also highlighted the mark Washingtonians made in music, from Bing Crosby to Jimi Hendrix to Nirvana.

But GC2C is no more, at least at the Capitol. Legacy Washington staffers took down and stored the exhibit panels for safekeeping until they can be taken to the Karshner Museum and Center for Culture and Arts in Puyallup, where the exhibit will be on display later this month.


While our lobby walls are bare, it won’t be that way for long. Our Legacy Washington is putting the finishing touches on a new exhibit called Washington 1889: Blazes, Rails & the Year of Statehood. It will be open for viewing later in October, so check it out! The exhibit’s grand opening takes place Nov. 11 from 4 to 6 p.m., following the state’s 125th birthday celebration earlier that day in the Capitol. All are invited.

GC2G takedown #4

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Archives Month celebrates 125 years of WA as a state!


(Image courtesy of Washington State Archives)

With the 125th anniversary of Washington reaching statehood just weeks away, our State Archives is getting into a festive mood by using the big birthday celebration as its Archives Month theme – “125 Years of Making History” — this year.

“It’s just a natural to tie in Archives Month to Washington’s 125th birthday as a state,” said State Archivist Steve Excell. “Washington has experienced so many historic moments and achievements since 1889, and the State Archives is proud to recognize the milestone as this year’s theme.”

As it does every year, the State Archives has a great-looking free poster to commemorate Archives Month. The poster (shown above) is available in the State Archives headquarters  in Olympia, the front desk of our Executive Office at the Capitol and at all regional Archives branches in Bellevue, Bellingham, Cheney and Ellensburg, as well as several local historical societies, universities with archives/library collections, museums and heritage centers. Get your poster while supplies last!

The poster was designed by Benjamin Helle of the State Archives.

Archives Month runs throughout October and features free workshops and open houses at the main Archives building in Olympia and the regional Archives branches. Go here  to see the schedule of events.

Here are scheduled events, by branch: continue reading

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Looking back at WA’s 1889 fall election


(Images courtesy of Washington State Archives)

Two big dates for Washingtonians are coming up this fall – the statewide General Election that ends Nov. 4 and our 125th birthday as a state on Nov. 11. Since we often like to blog about history or elections, our State Archives staff once again has come through, retrieving two historical documents from this date 125 years ago that bring elections and statehood together.

On Oct. 1, 1889, voters chose Washington’s first elected state officials. Although voters also approved Olympia as the capital, it did not receive a majority of the votes cast. One year later, a second election was held among the top three vote-getters: Ellensburg received 7,722, North Yakima gathered 6,276, and Olympia tallied a whopping 37,413 votes, easily winning the competition for the new state’s capital.

The top image is a proclamation of the 1889 General Election issued by Territorial Gov. Miles Moore. The bottom image shows an abstract of the 1889 election, provided by O.C. White, the last secretary of Washington Territory.


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SecWyman talks election with Comcast Newsmakers

Kim Comcast inteview

With the General Election just weeks away, the public and media are casting their eyes on the key races, measures and dates before voters cast their ballots.

As the chief elections official in Washington, Secretary of State Kim Wyman is being interviewed more and more leading up to the fall election. Wyman recently sat down for an interview with Comcast Newsmakers host Sabrina Register to talk about what is on the ballot  (all 10 congressional seats, all of the state House and half of the state Senate, four State Supreme Court seats and three initiatives). Key voter registration deadlines, she noted, are Oct. 6 for online or mail-in registration or registration updates and Oct. 27 for in-person new registrations at your county elections office).

You can watch the Comcast interview here. Or you can catch it on CNN Headline News over the next few weeks.

If you haven’t registered and want to vote this fall, make sure to do it before one of those deadlines!

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The Washington Office of the Secretary of State’s blog provides from-the-source information about important state news and public services. This space acts as a bridge between the public and Secretary Kim Wyman and her staff, and we invite you to contribute often to the conversation here.

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