The Washington Rural Heritage initiative is pleased to announce a new digital collection: Odessa Heritage. A project of the Odessa Public Library in partnership with the Odessa Historisches Museum, the collection tells the story of the pioneering families in southwest Lincoln County whose efforts transformed a rugged section of Washington into the second most productive wheat-growing county in the U.S.
The project began earlier this year when State Library staff performed on-location digitization of items at the Odessa Historisches Museum. Highlights from the digital collection include:
- A stunning collection of century-old photographs by Joshua Elmer, a local professional photographer who documented many of Southwest Lincoln County’s working farms and farmers. The collection includes Elmer’s linen-mounted panoramic photos and also depicts aspects of his family and home life (Elmer’s entire family was involved with the photography business).
- Historisches Museum barn collection: Photos of one-of-a-kind vehicles, agricultural implements, objects, and artifacts unique to the Odessa area.
- Material cataloged by Odessa High School students. An exciting aspect of this project has been involvement from local students who visited the Odessa Historisches Museum, researched specific materials, interacted with Museum staff and local researchers, and drafted item descriptions for the digital collection. See their “bylines” in the Notes field of these records.
Following this initial project, the Odessa Public Library landed a grant from the Washington State Library to continue building the Odessa Heritage Collection. Throughout 2011-2012, the Library will be digitizing additional material in collaboration with the Odessa Historisches Museum; Odessa High School; local independent researchers; and members of the Big Bend chapter of the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia (AHSGR).
Congratulations and a big thank you to: Julie Jantz of the Odessa Public Library, for managing the project; Dr. and Mrs. John Gahringer of the Odessa Historisches Museum, for their fantastic interpretation of Museum materials during our visit; Museum board member Paul Scheller for his photography assistance; and local historian Marge Womach for her many hours of research consultation.
Finally, if this online collection has whet your appetite for local history, go learn more in person. Odessa’s well known (and 41st annual) Deutschesfest is right around the corner!