Throughout 2012 we learned a great deal about how the unique resources in our Washington Rural Heritage collections are impacting end users–and we’re learning directly from the users themselves. Since enabling the public commenting feature on our digital library software in January, 2012 we’ve received over 100 comments on items in more than 25 digital collections from throughout the state. Here are a few standouts:
A user named “JRW” commented on this photo depicting logging on Alfred Gardene’s homestead in Everson, Washington:
“So grateful to have found these photos! We now live on this very property and are in the midst of returning the homestead to historic glory.”
The Everson McBeath Community Library (Whatcom County Library System) has done a particularly good job at mobilizing community members to identify, date, and otherwise enrich records in its Nooksack Valley Heritage collection, which was recently published in late 2012.
A user named Melinda attached this nice note to a record describing the life of Ellensburg’s Thomas S. Kirk:
“We always called him Uncle Tom, he was married to my Grandmother Ida Suver Kirk. He was always so kind to me and created such nice memories as a child for me.”
This photo is one of roughly 1,300 portraits taken by amateur photographer Fred. L. Breckon, former Ellensburg City Engineer. Accompanied by detailed biographical information, this sub-collection is a valuable genealogical resource for Washington’s Kittitas Valley. The entire Fred L. Breckon portrait collection has been digitized by the Ellensburg Public Library and is available through its Ellensburg Heritage Collection.
Another user named Byron recently added biographical information to an image of his uncle, shown here while attending Vashon College:
“Nice photo of my uncle, Chauncey Jones [left]. He went on to study medicine at the University of Chicago, studied humanities at UC Berkeley and practiced medicine and surgery in Everett, WA until his untimely death in 1944 at the age of 64 years. He was the son of A.C. and Mrs A.C. (Alonzo C. and Nettie Bentley) pictured in the photo taken in 1892 of the Vashon College faculty.”
Additional materials documenting Vashon College from 1890 to 1912 (when the original college closed), were digitized in 2008 by staff at the Vashon Library, King County Library System. They can be viewed as part of the larger Vashon Island Heritage Collection.
Finally, we’ve received more than a few corrections and identifications over the last year, including this correction to a striking group portrait photograph from Pullman, WA (two of the individuals had previously been misidentified):
“This photo is actually Clara Hull Newton (back left) and Nick (Earl H.) Newton (front left). They are my Great Grandparents. The Crawfords are identified correctly. –Marti Lothspeich Fulfs”
This photo is one of more than 2,000 documents from over 100 individual families (and counting) digitized by Whitman County Library as part of its Whitman County Heritage Collection. Whitman County Library’s multi-year, community-based digitization efforts have brought participatory history to every town in the county, and continue to unearth hidden treasures in family collections throughout the greater Palouse region.
Prior to the integration of a public commenting feature in our digital collections, members of the public were forced to contact us by email if they had questions or corrections. Needless to say, the amount and frequency of such feedback was much lower than it has been since implementing public commenting. We look forward to more comments in 2013. More identifications, dates, and stories. Without your participation, we’re simply history!