WA Secretary of State Blogs

A Sudden Light by Garth Stein

October 31st, 2014 mschaff Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Public Services, State Library Collections, Washington Reads No Comments »

sudden-light-thumb

Washington Reads – A Sudden Light by Garth Stein (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2014. 416 pp.)

Recommendation by Mary Paynton Schaff, Reference Librarian, Washington State Library

Fall means ghosts, creepy old houses, and stories about families scarred by tragedy. So now’s the perfect opportunity to gather up your afghan, sit by the fire with a cup of hot cider, and dive into Garth Stein’s newest book, “A Sudden Light.”

Fourteen-year-old narrator Trevor is brought to crumbling Riddell House in north Seattle by his father in the summer of 1990. Trevor’s father Jones has a lot on his plate: settle the Riddell family estate, get his father into a nursing home, make amends to his sister Serena who has spent the better part of her life nursing their father, and make his peace with the untimely death of their mother. Last but not least, Trevor is hoping his father can find a way to repair his marriage to Trevor’s mother, despite the fact they are currently separated by thousands of miles. As Jones begins to wrestle with these issues, Trevor is drawn into the history of the storied Riddell family and the monumentally fascinating but literally decomposing Riddell House. Trevor is aided in his exploration of the house, and his family history, by an unlikely guide who reveals to him further betrayals, tragedies, and opportunities.

The Washington setting of “A Sudden Light” plays a crucial role in Trevor’s coming of age story. The Riddells make their fortune in logging, as many Northwest pioneers did. Each of Trevor’s ancestors has a relationship to the trees; cutting them, climbing them, or building something out of the wood. As the profits from the trees roll in, the Riddells became the fashionable aristocracy of Seattle society. Lumber barons make deals with railroad magnates. And when Trevor’s guide steers him to John Muir’s “The Mountains of California,” Trevor begins to wonder what costs might have incurred as the family chopped and bargained its way to the top.

There’s an enjoyable gothic overtone to “A Sudden Light.” Exploring an old haunted house has been a favorite literary device from Jane Eyre to Rebecca to Scooby Doo. The library, ballroom, locked trunks, and secret stairways you hope Trevor will find are all there. Adding to this reading satisfaction, Stein further layers in a generational family saga, lost journals in leather bindings, the relationship between fathers and sons, pairs of doomed lovers, conflicting promises, and the sublime joy that can be found in nature. (This librarian experienced such joy simply reading Stein’s description of historical research undertaken in a pre-internet public library, using microfilm no less!)

So rest your bones and dig into this satisfying Northwest work of fiction.

ISBN-10: 1439187037

Available at the Washington State Library
Audio book available through the publisher.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

The Koreshans, a World Turned Outside In

October 27th, 2014 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Random News from the Newspapers on Microfilm Collection No Comments »

From the desk of Steve Willis, Central Library Services Program Manager of the Washington State Library:

There’s a great independent filmmaker in Utah I used to correspond with and even met once named Trent Harris. In his movie Plan 10 From Outer Space (1995) a character utters one of my all time favorite lines in cinema history: “Just because it’s made up doesn’t mean it isn’t true.” For some reason this little soundbite seems appropriate for the following story.

The random news article found in this round opened a door into the strange and bizarre world of a group with some Washington State connections, including one that turned out to be quite close to home.

The following news piece was found in The Tacoma Daily News (an ancestor to today’s News Tribune), Feb. 5, 1915:tacoma

HUNDRED TACOMANS SAID TO BE BELIEVERS IN CELIBACY CULT

Alleging James W. Gepford, 1521 South 57th street, assaulted him Wednesday night Dr. W.A. Bailey, an optometrist, swore to a complaint for Gepford’s arrest yesterday. Deputy Prosecutor Cramer is investigating. It is said Dr. Bailey is a leader of the Koreshans cult, the teachings of which, it is said, advocate celibacy and that the world is turned inside out so that humans are now living on the inside.

According to Deputy Prosecutor Cramer, Gepford complains that his wife took up the doctrine because of the teachings of Dr. Bailey and that through the advocacy of celibacy by the Koreshans his wife had grown cold toward him. The cult is said to have about a hundred followers in Tacoma.

At the time of this altercation, Dr. Wilson A. Bailey was 60 years old and Gepford was a logger about 15 years his junior. It was probably not a pretty sight.

But let’s back up a bit. Who were the Koreshans? Here’s a nutshell history:

The belief system was formed by Dr. Cyrus Reed Teed (1839-1908). Teed was, in the parlance of the time, an “eclectic” physician based in Utica, New York. He relied mainly on botanical cures and dabbled in alchemy. In 1869 he was rendered unconscious by an experiment when he employed the use of electricity– apparently a little too enthusiastically. During his blackout he had a vision where a Divine being told him he was the new Christian-based Messiah.

Being an industrious fellow, Dr. Teed set off to work, renaming himself “Koresh,” which is “Cyrus” in Hebrew. The religious/scientific movement he founded was soon known as “Koreshanity” or “Koreshan Unity.” The doctrine include a belief in reincarnation, immortality, communal living, alchemy and an acceptance of Teed’s role as the current Messiah. Oh, and there were two other little details in their theology: followers were expected to adhere to a strict code of celibacy, and according to Dr. Teed, Copernicus had it all wrong. The world was hollow and we existed on the inside concave shell. This was called “Cellular Cosmogony.”

After some not so successful attempts at establishing lasting communal settlements in Chicago and San Francisco, the Koreshans began to really get serious down in Estero, Florida, starting in the mid-1890s. By the early 20th century they had an incorporated town with 250 residents and appeared to be thriving. But then something bad happened that wasn’t supposed to happen.

Dr. Teed died.

It was Dec. 22, 1908. His followers held vigil over his body which had been placed in a bathtub, expecting him to rise again on Christmas. Two weeks later the County Coroner told them they had better get this corpse in the ground real fast. Dr. Teed was laid to rest in a mausoleum on the premises, but his coffin was washed out to sea in a hurricane in 1921 and was never recovered. So who knows? Maybe he did come back but hasn’t announced it yet.

Anyway, after the death of the founder, the sect and the settlement began to dwindle. The whole Leader-Is-Not-Immortal thing, coupled with the belief in celibacy, tends to put a crimp on future expansion. In 1961 the last of Dr. Teed’s followers gave the commune to the public and today the place is known as Koreshan State Park. Some of the original buildings are still there.
It is impressive that several years after Dr. Teed’s death, the Koreshans could claim 100 followers in Tacoma alone. Dr. Bailey survived his assault, and died in 1921. The Gepfords apparently remained together and moved on. But that wasn’t the case for Thomas Bellingham (1858-1920), who owned a plumbing company and served as a Pierce County Commissioner. His wife Martha (1860-1919) had been an active member of the group. Her name appears on a Koreshan broadside. She left her family and became a resident of the Florida commune about 1917, the same time Thomas assumed his political office. She died within two years.

Tacoma was not the only place in Washington where you could find Koreshans. A letter to the editor of the Morning Olympian, Aug. 15, 1914, began with the preface, “There are in Olympia a considerable number of persons who believe the war in Europe is the beginning of the end of the world.” This was soon followed with, “We are not making any predictions, but simply desire to call the attention of your readers to the warning given out and published in Koreshan literature during the past forty-five years.” Then a long and difficult to follow screed is presented.

 

Although he did not appear to join the group, there is some evidence from published correspondence in the Koreshan newspaper, The Flaming Sword, that Washington State Representative William Lowrey Freeman (1856-1936) was intrigued by and studied the theology of Koreshanity in 1897. Freeman had been elected as a representative for the 22nd District as a Populist during that party’s sweep in 1896. He was a a physician who had been educated at a medical college in St. Louis but also had “eclectic” medical interests, leading him to further studies at places like the Buchanan College of Therapeutic Sarcognomy, the Herring Medical College of Homeopathy, the Bing Swanger School of Electricity, and the Weltmer School of Suggestive Therapeutics.

Mildred Fischer Barager, who died in Seattle at the age 94 in 1995, provided a very detailed oral history in 1982 to the Florida Park Service concerning her childhood in the Koreshan commune. She was probably the last living person to give an eyewitness account of Dr. Teed himself.

And speaking of Dr. Teed, I am saving the best Washington State connection for last. Yes, it is confirmed, Dr. Cyrus Teed is a distant relation to our own Bill Teed, IT Guru here at the Office of the Secretary of State.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Library Clippings October 10, 2014

October 13th, 2014 Staci Phillips Posted in For Libraries, For the Public, News, Uncategorized, Updates No Comments »

Image courtesy North Pend Oreille Heritage collection

Image courtesy North Pend Oreille Heritage collection

Library News

Ridgefield library celebrates 100 years (The Reflector, Battleground, 09/10/14).

Opening the book on health: KVH Community Health Library serves community, staff (Daily Record, Ellensburg, 09/05/14).

Timberland Libraries boost service hours.
Library patrons in the five-county Timberland Regional Library (TRL) service area asked for longer hours: as of September 2, they’ve got them! District-wide, 26 libraries and the Ask-A-Librarian service added hours – a total of 58 more each week. The increased scheduled comes at no additional cost. (Pacific County Press, South Bend, 09/04/14).

SCLD launches business card: New card provides businesses with access to digital resources.
Born out of a desire to help local businesses prosper, grow or begin, the Spokane County Library District (SCLD) is launching a new card designed just for business users. (The Current, Liberty Lake, 09/00/14).

Rural library district creates ‘digital petting zoo’ with grant: Tour of items planned for this fall.
The Libraries of Stevens County was one of 12 libraries awarded a grant this summer to support digital literacy efforts in Washington State. The grant cycle provided funding for digital literacy projects which focused on giving patrons the ability to perform business transactions in a digital environment, using technology to retrieve information and helping patrons to develop skills to enhance their employability by using email and online job searches. (The Independent, Chewelah, 09/11/14).
Read the rest of this entry »

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Little known facts about WA State Library Employees

October 13th, 2014 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, State Library Collections, Uncategorized No Comments »

Photo by Don Hankins licensed under CC 2.0

Photo by Don Hankins licensed under CC 2.0

Paul Longwell a Washington State Library IT specialist by day is a Beekeeper by night. Paul recently told us about his participation in the Washington State Beekeeping Association apprentice beekeeper program.   In order to reach the highest level of Master Beekeeper it takes six years of study. To prepare for the exams you need several hard to find references from both State and Federal documents. But have no fear, Paul works in a library! On searching our catalog he discovered that we had every single one of them. The Washington Beekeeping Association now uses these resources for their Journeyman training classes.

To name just a few:

Evaluating honey bee colonies for pollination a guide for commercial growers and beekeepers

Bee pollination of tree fruits

Beekeeping in the United States

So if honey or bees are your passion, remember the Washington State Library is a sweet spot to study and learn more about your hobby.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

WSL Updates for October 9, 2014

October 9th, 2014 Diane Hutchins Posted in Digital Literacy, For Libraries, For the Public, News, Technology and Resources, Training and Continuing Education, Updates No Comments »

Volume 10, October 9, 2014 for the WSL Updates mailing list

Topics include:

1) WSL ESSENTIAL SERVICES SURVEY

2) GET THE GUIDE

3) CALL FOR PROPOSALS – BUILDING BRIDGES

4) LIBRARY NOW RENEWALS AND SIGNUPS

5) FREE CE OPPORTUNITIES NEXT WEEK

Read the rest of this entry »

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

2014 Washington State Library Essential Services survey

October 8th, 2014 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public No Comments »

On behalf of Rand Simmons, Washington State Library

Survey

The Washington State Library, a division of the Office of the Secretary of State, faces a severe reduction in operating funds for the 2015-2017 biennium due to a revenue shortfall. If the state legislature does not appropriate “back-fill” funds the State Library will be an estimated $2.4 million short, a quarter of the budget.

Therefore, we are examining our services to determine which are essential and we want your perspective. Please take a few minutes to complete our online survey located at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2014WSLCustomerSurvey. Thank you for helping us develop a preferred future for the Washington State Library.

Please complete the survey by close of day Friday, October 17, 2014. Please don’t respond to it more than once.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

The Killing Season

October 7th, 2014 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Random News from the Newspapers on Microfilm Collection No Comments »

From the desk of Steve Willis, Central Library Services Program Manager of the Washington State Library:

“One of the lusty, colorful eras in the history of the Pacific Northwest,” writes Jim Gibbs, “centered around the pelagic sealing industry. It gained great proportions by the 1890′s when every year more than 100 small schooners, propelled only by canvas, set sail from Victoria, B.C. and Puget Sound ports fanning throughout the North Pacific, in the harsh open seas of the Bering Sea, and often into Siberian and Japanese waters.” Supposed dead sailor

Pelagic sealing was a brutal, dangerous and cruel method of hunting seals for their fur. After decades of hunting by Russian, Japanese, Canadian, and American sealers, the Northern Fur Seal population had declined at an alarming rate. The American government had begun the process of regulating the industry as far as it could in the mid-1890s, so to get around these laws many U.S. sealers worked on Japanese schooners with an international crew, frequently breaking various laws in order to score a large harvest.

The following is a tale of what happened to a group of sealers who gambled and lost when they attempted to harvest seals in a war zone, when men were engaged in killing each other rather than seals. In this case the international battle was the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905), the first real industrialized conflict in the northern hemisphere in the 20th century.

By coincidence, this seal-hunting episode took place at the same time Jack London’s Sea-Wolf was published, a novel partially based on the life of contemporary sealer Alex MacLean.

The article found at random that led to this tale turned out to be rife with major factual errors, but it did lead to other sources, and they in turn were rife with major conflicting facts. This is an incident that could keep professional historians busy for a long time as they attempt to confirm the data. A little lesson on accuracy and rumors. What follows should be considered a best guess of what happened.

Anyway, here’s the brief news piece that got me started, from the Dec. 6, 1905 Morning Olympian:

SUPPOSED DEAD SAILOR OF ABERDEEN IN RUSSIAN PRISON

Aberdeen. Dec. 5–The sealing schooner Chas. Grant, recently returned to Victoria, B.C. after escaping from Russia through the intervention of the British government, reports that the officers and crew of the schooner Diana, mourned as dead since the summer of 1904, are still alive, immured in a Russian prison on the Amoor.

 It transpires that the Danana [sic] did not go down in a storm as was supposed, but was sunk by the Russian cruiser Lena last August, after the removal of the crew. That the Diana was lost and its crew drowned has been so generally accepted that the life insurance of several of them has been paid, and it is said that the wife of one of the crew has married again and lives in Aberdeen.

OK, where do we start? For openers, the Victoria Daily Colonist had reported the lost crew was alive and in a Russian prison about six months before this Dec. 1905 “breaking news” appeared.

Chas. Grant was not a schooner, he was a human being working as a sealer. Along with a fellow Victoria resident named Robert Finlay, they had been part of the crew of the Hokusei Maru, a Japanese sealing ship that had been seized and sunk by the Russian cruisers Gromoboi and Rossia.

Grant and Finlay told reporters they had been kept in a POW camp with 1500 Japanese, including some sealers who had been aboard the Diana. The Japanese prisoners reported to Grant and Finlay that the Diana crew had not perished at sea, and the North American prisoners had been taken to another facility. “Rather odd, isn’t it?,” Finlay told the Bellingham Herald  (Dec. 7, 1905), “to be delighted to learn that your friends are in prison?”

The prisoners Finlay was making reference to were identified as Capt. T.R. Thompson, Edward McNeill, George McCamish, Joseph Knapp, and a mysterious character we’ll call Joseph Vollo for now.

Next, the Diana was not really the Diana. The schooner had left the Victoria fleet and was registered in Japan. It was now called the Kyoichi Maru. The schooner flew under different flags, including Norway, Britain, and Denmark, as a blind.

In early August 1904 the Kyoichi Maru crew had somehow gotten into a quarrel with four other schooners as they descended upon Robben Island to slaughter seals at a rookery there. This small patch of land is now called Tyuleniy Island. At the time it was in Russian territory, but from 1905-1945 belonged to Japan. Somehow the four schooners conspired to block the Kyoichi Maru from participating in the carnage, so the ship waited until the others departed and then returned to start clubbing whatever seals were left. On Aug. 16, 1904, after killing over 200 seals (the previous four ships had killed almost 2000 seals each), they were discovered by the Russian auxiliary cruiser Lena (one version says it was the cruiser Gromoboi).

The Kyoichi Maru was then stripped and, depending on what account you believe, was sunk on the spot or scuttled at the mouth of the Amur River. The Japanese crew members were hustled off to a POW camp, but the five remaining crew members were given what could be called in charitable terms, “special treatment.”

These five were held in detention until Jan. 1905, when they were tried in Russian court and found guilty– of poaching, one would guess. They were sentenced to 18 months imprisonment. By the time they were released, Robben Island had become part of Japan.

T.R. Thompson was the main focus of the Russian’s ire. Based in San Francisco, Thompson was well known to his keepers. As the Nov. 29, 1905 Victoria Daily Colonist explained: “The Russians were greatly interested in Capt. Thompson, who was formerly in the employ of the Russian fur company, which leased the rookery on Robben Island, he was mate on the guard steamer Kotick, which was captured by the Japanese lying in Yokohama, when the war began, and while in the employ of the Russian company, he had learned of the customs of the fur company, of how it placed its guards, etc. information, which came useful when he took charge of a Japanese sealing schooner.”

Thompson was given the harshest sentence of the crew. His manacles were welded on and he was kept in chains for months– to the point where he was unable to walk under his own power for a spell. A cartoon he had sketched had somehow made the Russians suspect he was a spy.

Edward McNeill of Victoria had alerted the press that the Kyoichi Maru was not lost at sea when he wrote to his parents in Victoria in early 1905.

Joe Knapp had lived in Seattle and Bellingham prior to this adventure. Possibly born in 1877 in Nova Scotia, Knapp apparently had a second job as a waiter on an Alaska passenger ship during the gold rush. He appears in the Seattle 1897 city directory employed in the occupation of sealer.

“Joseph Vollo” has been described as being from Guam, Spain, or Mexico. His name changes in each news account, but all versions agree he was quite young.

George McCamish, although described as a Canadian by most news articles, was actually an American. He was born in San Rafael, California in 1865. His lineage traces back to early American Scot-Irish heritage and later to possible Mormon pioneers.

McCamish was no stranger to being arrested by the Russians. In 1903 he had been part of a trio convicted and sentenced for poaching seals in Russian territory.

The North American prisoners from the Hyoichi Maru were released in mid-1906, destitute and in broken health. Through the charity of English and German travelers, the crew were able to secure passage from Vladivostok to Kobe.

At this point the fate of “Vollo” vanishes into the haze of history. McNeill, Knapp, and McCamish, after arriving in Japan, joined the crew of the sealing ship Seifu Maru, commanded by Capt. Ritchie. Thompson took command of a new sealing ship, the Aitoku Maru. Later he became the skipper of the Matsu Maru.

Two years later McCamish was aboard the Kinsei Maru, again with Capt. Ritchie (aka Richardson) when the schooner was seized by the US cutter Bear while illegally raiding seals and trading liquor for pelts in the Pribilof Island area. The Kinsei Maru was infamous as a ship filled with desperate characters, almost like pirates, and was nicknamed “The Terror” by Alaska locals. It was even adorned with a paper mache funnel and painted to disguise itself to resemble a revenue cutter. I cannot verify if Knapp was also part of the crew of 30+ sailors.

Ritchie and McCamish were imprisoned in Valdez for a number of months. Ritchie withdrew from sealing after this episode and lived in retirement in Japan.

George McCamish died June 10, 1911 in the Philippines from meningitis.

Ed McNeill joined the crew of the Toyoi Maru, under the command of Harry Jacobson.

As far as the “widow” in Aberdeen, Washington is concerned, I am unable to ascertain the identity of either spouse. If this story is true, then we have the side love interest gone awry to complete a great historical novel.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Library Clippings October 6, 2014

October 6th, 2014 Staci Phillips Posted in For Libraries, For the Public, News, Updates No Comments »

Image courtesy North Pend Oreille Heritage collection

Image courtesy North Pend Oreille Heritage collection

Library News

New checkout for library (Spokesman Review, 08/21/14).

Timberland extending hours: District wide, 58 open hours added each week.
Library patrons in the five-county Timberland Regional Library (TRL) service area asked for longer hours. And according to TRL officials, starting September 2, they will have them. District wide, 26 libraries and the Ask-A-Librarian service will add hours- a total of 58 more each week. The increased schedules come at no additional cost. (The East County Journal, Morton, 08/27/14).

Officials to advise assessor on property tax shift: Commissioners will make recommendations at Tuesday meeting (Skagit Valley Herald, Mount Vernon, 05/09/14).

Bellingham library open Sundays beginning Sept 7.
The central branch of Bellingham Public Library will reopen on Sundays staring Sept. 7. The library at 210 Central Ave will open 1 to 5 pm on Sundays because the Bellingham City Council included money in the 2014 budget, which was adopted in December, to restore the hours. (Bellingham Herald, Bellingham, 08/30/14).
Read the rest of this entry »

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Our Pacific Northwest card file is now online!

October 2nd, 2014 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Library 21 Initiative, Public Services, State Library Collections, Uncategorized 1 Comment »

From the desk of Steve Willis, Program Manager for Central Library Services

card catalogThe Pacific Northwest Card File appears to have been started in the early 1950s as a finding aid for biographical and historical information in the Washington State Library. Information was indexed from newspapers across the state as well as many published local histories, creating a very unique point of access.

Comprised of hundreds of thousands of cards, the drawers are divided into a Name File and a Subject File. Work began in late 2012, chiefly with WSL volunteer David Lane, on the Name File. We are now up to the surname “C” and will continue to update the online index as progress is made.  See the open drawer in the picture? That’s where we are currently working.

The Card File was closed in the early 1990s.  Please remember however that this is a historical card file and not every item listed is still on the shelves of the library.  A quick chat, email or phone call to the reference desk will help to ensure  you get the proper resource.

To see a nice sampling, simply type in the name “Anderson” in the “Last Name” box.

Many thanks to Evelyn Lindberg for creating the utility that made this possible

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Joyce Hanna is the 2014 State Library Employee of the Year.

September 30th, 2014 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Institutional Library Services No Comments »

OSOS Staff Appreciation Sept 26 2014 026Joyce retires today after a long tenure with the Washington State Library. She is our branch manager at the Airway Heights Corrections Center, one of our largest institutional library branches.

Joyce was one of the first branch managers to establish a Read Together program. The community reading program became very popular and inmates who regularly attended the programs frequently asked what the next book would be.

Last year Joyce fought, and beat, cancer! While undergoing treatment she kept the Airway Heights Corrections Center open, an indication of her dedication toward library service to prisoners.

Her manager Laura Sherbo summarized Joyce’s leadership role as “leading by example.”

Bob Fendler will step in on an interim appointment to manage the Airway Heights branch.

Congratulations, Joyce. Enjoy your retirement.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button