Olympia (Postcard history series). By Jill Bullock. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Pub., 2010. 127 p.
Rand Simmons, Acting Washington State Librarian, Tumwater, WA.
This unassuming book of black and white photos with minimal text packs an amazing amount of history in its 127 pages. The history of my adopted town, Olympia, WA, is told through images of postcards collected by author Jill Bullock. Many of the postcards are, in the collectors’ vernacular, “real photo postcards” or RPPCs. Through these images we learn about steamboats, downtown Olympia, early public schools and businesses, the Capitol of Washington, the brewery that made Tumwater famous and the history of logging.
We also learn the place of Olympia in the State’s history. The territorial capitol, Olympia struggled to retain the same role when Washington gained statehood in 1889. The first vote failed and Olympia faced a second vote in 1890. “Fate intervened in the form of the great Seattle fire that threatened to consume the city. The Olympia city fathers were quick to act. They sent the town’s fine, new steam-pumper fire engine the Silsby to stricken Seattle on the fast steamer Fleetwood. In spite of grumbling amongst the townspeople, $500 of taxpayers’ money was also given to Seattle to aid in their recovery. Seattleites, feeling indebted, showed their appreciation by supporting Olympia as the site of a permanent state capitol.”
This is the kind of history that arm-chair historians like me enjoy, a quick easy read filled with photos. Thanks is given by the author to Mary Hammer and (recently-retired) Dave Hastings of the Washington State Archive for their assistance with the book.
ISBN-13: 978 0738580364