WA Secretary of State Blogs

The Uncle of the Father of Earth Day: Washington’s sort of Connection…

April 22nd, 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:

Several years ago I discovered an unusual Washington State connection to Earth Day while compiling biographical information about unsuccessful candidates for Governor. The election was 1936 and the subject was Union Party nominee Ove Malling Nelson.

Nelson1930s Although a bit distant, the connection is this: Ove Nelson was the uncle of the Sen. Gaylord Nelson, the Father of Earth Day. OK, so its convoluted, but I love trivia.

Attorney and author O.M. “Ovie” or “Ovey” Nelson was a political gadfly and fixture in Grays Harbor County elections for thirty years, 1916-1946. Most of his energy was spent running for either County Prosecuting Attorney or the 3rd District U.S. Congress seat. One reference mentioned he also tried for the State Senate at some time. He ran under the banner of four different parties in the course of his campaign career: Republican, Democrat, La Follette Progressive, and Union. This last party was the strangest of them all, and he was identified with it during a curious detour from his pattern of trying to obtain the above mentioned offices. Nelson was the Union Party’s candidate for Governor in 1936.

Ove Malling Nelson was born Mar. 9, 1880 in Thorp, Clark County, Wis. His parents were immigrants from Norway. He came from a large farming family where politics was apparently in the genetic fiber.

In a May 27, 1999 “countdown to the millennium” piece, the Montesano Vidette included this background on Nelson:

Raised in the mighty Wisconsin forest, his father carved a log home from the forest and would travel 40 miles for food, which he packed on his back. Young Ovey also attended school in a log school house in Thorp, receiving his diploma when he was 14 years old.

“Dissatisfied with the next three years of his life working on a farm, Ovey decided to take a high school course. He had to walk four miles to attend class and once there he was the only boy in a class of four students. Ovey then turned to teaching, but dissatisfied with the Wisconsin frontier, he decided to travel west, arriving in Everett in 1900.

Young Nelson stayed in Washington until 1906, when he decided to move back to Wisconsin. There he worked as a stenographer and bookkeeper. It was also during this time he met the future Mrs. Nelson, Melinda Opperman. The couple later married in Seattle in 1915 and they had three sons.

 Nelson’s stay in Wisconsin only lasted a short time though. He moved back to Seattle in 1907 and it was two newspaper advertisements that played an important part in his life.

 The first ad he answered was for a company seeking a man to work out of town. Thus he came to Cosmopolis in January 1907 with C.F. White to work for Neil Cooney and the Grays Harbor Commercial Co.

Nelson1970sNelson worked for Cooney for eight months when he answered a second ad by W.H. Abel of Montesano for a stenographer. Nelson was hired. During this time, Nelson became interested in the law. He found time to read law in the evenings.

 Nelson worked for Abel for one year, one month and 16 days, before heading to Olympia to take the bar examination, which he passed. In 1909 he set up an independent practice for himself.

 Somewhere in that narrative, according to his obituary, Nelson attended business college in Oshkosh, Wis., probably in 1906.

Nelson’s political runs appeared to have started in 1916. Between 1916-1946 he ran for County Prosecuting Attorney at least four times, and made no less than eight attempts for U.S. Congress. Apparently he sat out the elections of 1932, 1940, and 1944. In the other years I have identified 13 attempts by Nelson to gain elective office. In eight of those he ran as a Republican but never gained enough votes to win a primary. The only way he was able to get his name on the general election ballot was to run as Democrat, Progressive, or Union party member. In most of these elections, he usually won the majority of votes in his home town, which says a lot about his standing in the community and the perseverance of Monte in supporting their own favorite son against the much more populated Aberdeen-Hoquiam or Olympia political base.

In 1922 Nelson made his first bid for U.S. Congress. Nelson’s Big Issue in the 1920s appears to be that he was a “wet,” arguing that Prohibition was a mistake.

In 1924 Nelson ran for Congress as a member of La Follete’s Progressive Party. The Democrats apparently didn’t have a real candidate so Ovie became the main opposition by default. Nelson pretty much mouthed the party line on national issues. In local affairs, he promoted the idea of public ownership of utilities. The Grays Harbor Public Utility District was still 14 years away. Ovie was ahead of his time on this issue.

Prohibition was a major story issue in the region. The Grays Harbor County Sheriff and a host of other law enforcement types had been stung in booze running conspiracies. Alcohol was brought down from British Columbia, dumped overboard in crates into Grays Harbor, where local distributors picked them up under the watchful and approving eye of the local law. Meanwhile, out in McCleary, a thriving cottage industry of producing quality homemade booze helped supplement the local economy. “McCleary Moonshine” even had a special label.

In 1930 he tried again to unseat incumbent Albert Johnson in the primary. According to the Montesano Vidette, Sept. 4, 1930:


 O.M. Nelson, Montesano attorney, is waging a vigorous campaign for representative in congress. He will speak over KMO, Tacoma, Thursday night and Saturday night. His campaign is based chiefly on his proposal to rectify prohibition condition by adoption of another amendment to permit government sale of liquor under proper regulation. He would leave the present amendment intact to prevent the return of the saloon. He has cited the Lyle-Whitney case in Seattle as an example of what he terms the failure of the national prohibition law. He lays the crime wave and much of business depression to prohibition. Nelson is city attorney of Montesano, having been reelected several times.

And although he placed first in Montesano, he finished 3rd in the primary in 1930. Interesting to note his position as City Attorney was an elective office, so he was successful in municipal elections.

The repeal of Prohibition had taken away the topic that had been Ovie’s main campaign issue for years. It was replaced by his interest in monetary reform. In 1934 he authored On the Wane: Democracy Or Communism (Montesano Publishing Co.), a 192 page book the Montesano Vidette said “attacks our banking system and which declares our present money system, based on huge debts, is destroying democracy and opening the door to communism.” Copies of this monograph are difficult to find today.

Now for a little background on the Union Party. It was a brief blip on the political radar, initially causing panic among Democrats but as it turned out was of little consequence in the election. The Party’s foundation was built from three groups who felt FDR was not doing enough to meet the financial crisis of the 1930s: The Townsendites, the Coughlin listeners, and the Share Our Wealth followers.

The historian William Manchester gives his take on the Union Party: “… Father Coughlin and his colleagues preempted the lunatic fringe, presenting for the voters’ consideration their new Union Party. The Union candidate for President was Congressman William Lemke of North Dakota, a strange individual with a pocked face, a glass eye, and a shrill voice; to the radio priest’s dismay he insisted upon wearing a gray cloth cap and an outsize suit. Coughlin baptized him ‘Liberty Bill,’ and Gerald L.K. Smith drew up plans to guard the November polls with a hundred thousand Townsendite youths. The radio priest promised to quit the air forever if he didn’t deliver nine million votes for the Union ticket. That seemed extravagant, but in June both major parties were taking Lemke seriously … The sobriquet ‘Liberty Bill’ was catching on. Father Coughlin rather liked the alliterative resemblance to ‘Liberty Bell.’ Then, too late, he remembered something: the Liberty Bell was cracked.”

The Washington State Union Party met at the Frye Hotel in Seattle and nominated Nelson for Governor. National organizer H.F. Swett predicted to the Seattle Daily Times the Union Partywould carry Wyoming and Idaho and that the ticket would make a creditable showing in Washington.”

Nelson clearly saw himself as coming from the Left in his Union Party run. Incumbent Gov. Martin was a moderate Democrat. The Washington Commonwealth Federation, a liberal political action group which included Townsendites in their ranks, had failed to displace Martin in the primary. Part of this was due to the fact 1936 was the first blanket primary in Washington, and many Republicans crossed over to choose the least objectionable Democrat. Meanwhile, former Governor and extreme conservative Roland Hartley, who was defeated in 1932 by Martin, won the Republican primary. Nelson tried to capitalize on the fact the Left had nowhere to go. Here’s part of an article from the Sept. 17, 1936 Montesano Vidette:


Following the lead of the union party’s presidential candidate, William Lempke, who insists he will be elected president in November, O.M. Nelson, Montesano’s first gubernatorial candidate, declares he will be the next governor of Washington …

 Despite the fact that his is frankly a minority group, Nelson forsees a coalition of liberal political voters in the state who won’t vote for ‘those two reactionaries, Martin and Hartley.’ This coalition will vote for the union party candidates, Nelson declares.

 “Money is the issue,” Nelson says. “All other issues are subordinate to the issue of honest money. Most of our economic problems are the direct result of our present dishonest money system. As soon as people wake up, they will realize they have been robbed for years and will put an end to dishonest money.”

 Martin, meanwhile, was no slouch when it came to political fence mending. Two other third party gubernatorial challenges, both of them with Townsendites in their ranks, were quelled before they had chance to file for the ballot.

Nelson did campaign throughout the state. He is on record as speaking to large groups in Walla Walla, Colfax, Spokane, Ellensburg, Davenport, Seattle, Tacoma, and Olympia.

It didn’t do any good. Gov. Martin was re-elected with almost 70% of the vote. Nelson placed third out of the eight candidates with 6,349 votes (0.94%). He seemed to have a bump in votes in Clallam, Clark, Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pierce, Thurston, Walla Walla and Yakima counties, but even then he was never close to finishing at second place. The six third party candidates combined total only accounted for 2.52% of the vote.

Nationally and locally the Democrats enjoyed a huge landslide. The Republicans would be down to 5 senators and 6 representatives in the 145-member Washington State Legislature in the 1937 Session. The Argus ran this bit: “The day after election four years ago Jay Thomas, who was then public printer, stepped down to the lobby of the Olympian Hotel and let out a yell, ‘Look at me, the last living Republican.’ Recalling this incident, an old timer remarked here this morning after this election, ‘and now Jay is dead.’”

The Union Party evaporated after the 1936 election, but Nelson didn’t give up trying to get elected to public office. He made at least three more attempts to win the Republican primary for U.S. Congress. As usual, if it had been up to Montesano voters alone he would’ve been elected, but he couldn’t get the district-wide support.

In 1946 he ran one last time for Congress as a Republican under the catchy slogan: “We can produce abundance every day and we should be able to live abundantly every day without ruining the nation and ourselves with debts.” Although he seldom ran political newspaper ads in his early years, he came around at the end.

Ovie apparently retired from his quest for public elected office after 1946, but he remained very active in civic affairs. In the post-War years, he donated a chunk of land to Montesano for use as “Nelson Field,” a Little League Baseball park. In 1960, at the age of 80, he wrote his best known work: Our Legalized Monetary Swindles (New York : Vantage Press).

Ovie was still an active and a sought after speaker into his 90s. He died suddenly during the Grays Harbor Bar Association Christmas party at the Nordic Inn in Aberdeen, Dec. 19, 1975. His front page obituary stated, “At the time of his death he is believed to have been the oldest practicing attorney in the state.”

John C. Hughes, the Chief Historian of our own Legacy Project here at the Office of Secretary of State, shares this memory of Ove Nelson:

When I covered the Courthouse for The Aberdeen Daily World in the late 1960s, I visited O.M. Nelson several times at his office in Montesano. It was like having an audience with Teddy Roosevelt, William Jennings Bryan or H.L. Mencken. Today we seem to have few genuine, iconoclastic, larger than life characters who aren’t dogmatic windbags. Nelson was all over the political map during his long career, but never motivated by opportunism. He waved his arms passionately when he warmed to a subject. Considering that all around him—on the desk, the floor and bookcases—papers were stacked two or more feet high, some leaning precariously like the tower at Pisa, I always worried that one false move could trigger a catastrophe. Nelson claimed he could quickly locate anything he needed in all the clutter. I never tested him. His grandson, Greg Nelson, Aberdeen’s city attorney, says grandpa’s secretary once heard a loud thump inside his office and feared he had fallen. It was just a mound collapsing onto the floor.

My, my, this post sure strayed a bit from Earth Day. Such is the interdisciplinary nature of history.


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Linking the Past with the Present

April 17th, 2014 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public, State Library Collections No Comments »

Ever since the advent of Web 2.0 people are finding creative ways to harness the power of the web to learn about and share their passions.  Resources are shared and discovered; connections are made between people.  Here at the Washington State Library we have a mission to collect, preserve and make accessible materials about the history and culture of Washington State.  This task is accomplished in a variety of ways, from scanning newspapers, or entire books, to helping communities scan, organize and digitize their local historic collections.  While the library has accomplished this mission by providing access to its digital collections this really is only the first step.  When it gets interesting is when people start interacting with the collections.

Much to our delight, people are finding our collections and using them to enrich their lives.  I wanted to share a few of the stories and comments which have resulted from the resources we’ve shared.  A picture from the Garfield County Heritage collection titled “Denison children and goat cart, 1929” elicited this comment Denison_children_and_goat_cart_1929“My Great Aunt Mary, Great Uncle Roger, and my Lovely Grandmother Dorothy Denison Ruchert. I cherish this photo and hope to bring back the goat carts for use today!”

Or we received this comment on a photo of Nooksack Valley“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.”   	Logging on Gardene's homestead on property

Then there was the time that the Public Services desk received a call from someone who had heard that the Washington State Library had digitized her Great-Great-Great Grandfather’s journal.  When asked who that person might be, they said, Daniel Bigelow.  We were excited to let her know that the State Library Digital and Historical Collections team had indeed made the journal, along with other mementos kept in the Manuscripts Collection, digitally available.  Thrilled, she explained that her family was unaware that the material was available and was eager to pass the word along to her kin.  Needless to say, our Public Services team was delighted to help make these connections.

Finally, the other day on our Facebook page there was a wonderful piece of serendipity.  Just for fun we posted pictures of a small library in Eastern Washington with a challenge to “Name that Library”.  Someone who saw the post commented that her great grandparents had lived in that community and she was interested in genealogy.  A librarian from that library, OK I’ll tell you, The Denny Ashby Library in Pomeroy, saw the post, and knew of a book that had been scanned and made available in Open Library.  She went to the book and found an entry about the person’s great-grandparents and shared the link in the comments.  Connection made, information shared.  How cool is that? Keep reading, keep watching, you never know when something that links you to the past will turn up on your 21st Century device.

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WSL Updates for April 17, 2014

April 17th, 2014 Diane Hutchins Posted in For Libraries, For the Public, Grants and Funding, News, Technology and Resources, Training and Continuing Education, Updates No Comments »

Volume 10, April 17, 2014 for the WSL Updates mailing list

Topics include:







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Have you read a poem lately?

April 11th, 2014 Kim Smeenk Posted in For Libraries, For the Public, State Library Collections, Washington Reads No Comments »

If you haven’t read poetry in a while, now is the perfect time to start again - April is National Poetry Month.

In his National Poetry Month proclamation, Governor Inslee called on

“…all the people of Washington to observe National Poetry Month in a more meaningful, personal way…as a means to offer comfort and solace to those who are suffering as a result of the Oso mudslide.

One way to do so is to submit a poem yourself to the Art with a Heart – Response to Oso tumblr forum.

The Washington State Arts Commission runs the forum.  Among the poems you can find there is one written by Elizabeth Austen, the Washington State Poet Laureate.

If you would like to read poetry written by other Washington state poets, browse the Washington State Library’s collection for the poetry books listed in our catalog.

Here are just a few excerpts from that collection that might, as the governor said, “offer comfort and solace.

Grace AboundingWillow_Tree_
I’m saved in this big world by unforeseen
friends, or times when only a glance
from a passenger beside me, or just the tired
branch of a willow inclining toward earth,
may teach me how to join earth and sky.
Even in Quiet Places by William Stafford (1996)

Nooksack Valley
At the far end of a trip north
In a berry-pickers cabin
At the edge of a wide muddy field
Stretching to the woods and cloudy mountains,
Feeding the stove all afternoon with cedar,
Watching the dark sky darken, a heron flap by,
Riprap, & Cold Mountain Poems by Gary Snyder (1965)

Round_beech_stones_ Riverbed
We walk on round stones, all flawlessly bedded,
Where water drags the cracked dome of the sky
Riverbed by David Wagoner (1972)


His Father’s Whistle
For hours the boy fought sleep,
strained against the whir of cicadas, moths
at the screens bumbling, night’s
blue breezes, to hear out on the country road
his father’s car rumbling in gravel.
Earthly Meditations by Robert Wrigley (2006)

Aurora_Northern Lights
Once more it’s the rainbow leaps
and foldings of the old process,
a whole border of pink roses
growing wild on the horizon.
The Dark Path of Our Names by Joan Swift (1985)

Mount Alaska Stream

In the pines
where the sun never shines
a small, damp fire filled mountains
green lungs of each century
Orcas Island by Don Wilsun (1980)

Untitled by Nasira Alma
in cascades
down the blooming rocks
yesterday’s rain
Sunlight through Rain: A Northwest Haiku Year (1996)

Come and visit us, or browse the catalog, if you’re  looking for a poetry book written in or about the Pacific Northwest.


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The Historic Background of the Oso Mudslide

April 9th, 2014 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For the Public No Comments »


2014 Oso mudslide

2014 Oso mudslide

The story of the Oso mudslide is being followed around the nation.  What many people don’t realize however is that this area was hit by a similar mud slide in 1951, thankfully non-fatal.  The pictures accompanying this post show an aerial view of the recent mudslide which is slightly to the west of the 1951 slide, the area of the slide in 1949 and a plan of where the 1949 Hazel slide occurred . (The two early pictures are found in the first document on the list below)

As interest in the historiography of the Oso Mudslide grows, the Washington State Library Digital and Historic Collections Unit has identified and made available online the following titles:

Hazel Mudslide area 1949

Hazel Mudslide area 1949

Report on slide on North Fork Stillaguamish River near Hazel, Washington  [1952]

Stillaguamish slide study : summary of data obtained by Research Division during 1952 , [1953?]

Stillaguamish slide study  : report on siltation experiment and report on flow correlation (North Fork Stillaguamish River) [1953]

Hazel/Gold Basin landslides  : geomorphic review draft report  [1999]

Plan- Hazel Mudslide

Plan- Hazel Mudslide

We will continue to digitize background material on this area as we can and make it available for online viewing.

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What can you find in a city directory?

April 7th, 2014 Kim Smeenk Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, State Library Collections, Uncategorized 1 Comment »

Do you know what you can find in a city directory?

If you want to research your home, your family history,
or local history you’ll want to use city directories.

They are similar to telephone books in that they were published every year, and they list the people living in a city….but city directories have so much more information.

You can find out the name of a spouse, both living and deceased.

Everett City Directory 1939

Everett City Directory 1939


You can find out someone’s profession.

cd profession

Wenatchee City Directory 1936


You can look up a company, and find out who was in charge.

Spokane City Directory 1893

Spokane City Directory 1893


If you are researching the history of your house you can search most city directories by street
address, instead of by a name, and find out who lived at a particular address.

Bellingham City Directory 1939

Bellingham City Directory 1939

This is a partial list of people and businesses located on Meridian Street in Bellingham in 1939.

In 1939, the Fountain Plumbing Co. could be found at 2309 Meridian.  Today, over 70 years later,  there is still a home improvement business at that address.

Not a plumbing company,  but a store selling recycled and salvaged building supplies.


You can track your ancestors year by year.

You not only find out if their address changed, but also if their employment or marital status changed.  These 1936 and 1938 Wenatchee city directories tell us that Don Miller got promoted during those years, becoming the President/Manager of North Central Chevrolet.






City directories also provide a historical snapshot of the city.  There is usually a profile of the city
at the beginning of each one, along with some statistical data.

Ellensburg City Directory 1968

Ellensburg City Directory 1968

The information provided varies from year to year and city to city.

This example from the 1968 Ellensburg City Directory tells us what their population was, and what their media, entertainment and transportation options were.

It gets even more detailed, and tells us how many beds the hospital had, how many volumes the library held, how many telephones were in use.
*click on the image to read those numbers*

There might not be surviving data from the Ellensburg Chamber of Commerce, but since they provided these statistics, along with the historical and economic data for the directory, we still have this historical snapshot of Ellensburg in 1968.



The directories after about 1920 usually have a yellow pages section where the businesses, churches, and government offices are listed by subject.

You can find out who all the local officials were….the mayor, police chief, and so on.
If the town happens to have Federal Government offices, you can find out who was in charge of them, as we can see in this  1955 Moses Lake city directory.

cd government

Moses Lake City Directory 1955


You can even find a future president….living with his mother in Seattle in 1961-1962.


Seattle City Directory 1961-1962


The Washington State Library has a collection of city directories for cities all over the state.

This page on our web site lists all of the city directories in our collection.

Contact us if you have any questions about using our city directory collection.
askalibrarian@sos.wa.gov   /   360.704.5221



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WSL Updates for April 3, 2014

April 3rd, 2014 Diane Hutchins Posted in For Libraries, For the Public, Grants and Funding, News, Technology and Resources, Training and Continuing Education, Updates No Comments »

Volume 10, April 3, 2014 for the WSL Updates mailing list

Topics include:







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Double Trouble in Walla Walla

April 2nd, 2014 Kim Smeenk Posted in For Libraries, For the Public, State Library Collections, Uncategorized, Washington Reads No Comments »

Double_Trouble cover

Double Trouble in Walla Walla.

The Adventure on Klickitat Island

What do these titles have in common?

Well, they contain two of Washington State’s very unique place names.  Walla Walla and Klickitat are just fun to say.

They are also part of our collection of children’s books here at the Washington State Library.

We don’t just have history books and microfilm here at the State Library.  We collect any book written about, or set in, Washington State.  That includes picture books.


Double Trouble in Walla Walla by Andrew Clements is a wonderful tongue twister of a tale that is great fun to read aloud.Double_trouble 2

In Lulu’s English class one morning, there is an outbreak of “lippity-loppity jibber-jabber.”

Everyone is double talking - the students, the teachers, the nurse and even the principal.

He tries to deny it by saying “Tut-tut, sounds like silly-willy hocus pocus to me”.

It seems he has caught the double talk bug too.

Adventure on Klickitat Island
by Hilary Horder Hippely is a beautifully illustrated nighttime adventure.  A little boy and his bear head out to help animals on the island who are wet and cold in a thunderstorm.

“On Klickitat Island
just think of the rains,klickitat
now soaking the otters
and poor baby cranes”

Once they get to the island, all of the animals work with him to build a shelter.  They triumph over the cold rainy night.

“With deer hauling driftwood
and cranes helping sort,
soon standing up tall
was a Klickitat fort!”

Come and visit us, or browse our catalog, if you’re  looking for a children’s book set in, or written about, Washington State.


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Preserving the History and Culture of Washington State

April 1st, 2014 Rand Simmons Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Library 21 Initiative, State Library Collections, Tribal No Comments »

From the desk of Brian Frisina

Washingtonians know the importance of preserving the history and culture of our great state.

Mr. Jackson is shown in the Illustrated History of Mason County, by Susan Olsen and Mary Randlette (1978) Additional information on Dick Jackson can be found in the rise and decline of the Olympia oyster, by E. N. Steele [Elma, Wash., Fulco Publications, 1957]

Mr. Jackson is shown in the Illustrated History of Mason County, by Susan Olsen and Mary Randlette (1978) Additional information on Dick Jackson can be found in the rise and decline of the Olympia oyster, by E. N. Steele [Elma, Wash., Fulco Publications, 1957]

One way to preserve our history is by supporting the Washington State Library. Established as a territorial library, the Washington Territorial Library was created by the Organic Act of 1853, which also created the Washington Territory. The Washington State Library is the oldest cultural institution in Washington State and its original collections were chosen by Governor Isaac Stevens, the first Territorial Governor, before he headed West from the East Coast.

Libraries play a very vital role in society. They provide access to both printed and online information, their collections preserve historical moments, and above all they are the stewards of the history and culture of society.

Libraries also provide people with free opportunities to learn through books, magazines, newspapers, and documents. These opportunities uplift our society and helps us to be the best human beings we can be.

I would like to take a moment and share my experience with the Washington State Library. I was working on a project that required digging deep into the history of the State, the history of the First People. I am interested in telling the story of Washington State through the eyes of the First People.

In my research I was looking for some rare images. One image I was looking for was of a person name Dick Jackson, from the Sqauxin Island Nation. Mr. Jackson played an important role in keeping his people from starving during the 1900s. The image on the right was preserved at the Washington State Library.

Through the collections of the Washington State and help from the staff I was able to locate the research material I needed. I share my story with you to highlight the Washington State Library and its role in preserving the history and culture of our great state.

Thank you Washington State Library.

Brian Frisina works at the Washington State Library branch in the Department of Labor and Industries, He is active in American Indian issues.

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Mercy Thompson Series

March 28th, 2014 Kim Smeenk Posted in For the Public, State Library Collections, Washington Reads No Comments »


From the desk of Kim Smeenk

Frost Burned

Frost Burned

There is a bestselling fantasy series about werewolves and vampires
in Washington State, and it isn’t the one you’re thinking of.


Instead of the rain, mountains and misty forests that most people think of when they picture Washington State, Patricia Briggs has set her Mercy Thompson series where she herself lives.  The dry and sunny Tri Cities region in Eastern Washington.  More desert than forest, more farmland than mountains.

Tri Cities Region

Mercy Thompson is a young Volkswagen mechanic, who also has the ability to shift into a coyote.   This is why she can count amongst her family, friends, acquaintances and enemies, werewolves, witches, vampires, trolls, various other shape-shifters and members of the Fey.

Mercy isn’t a superhero.  Most of the time, she is the weakest supernatural creature in the room.   When we first meet her in Moon Called, she is driving an old VW Rabbit, and lives in an old single wide trailer outside of town with her cat Medea.

You just enjoy spending time with her in these books.  She faces life with humor, loyalty and grit.  There is the actual grit that comes from working on cars all day, but Mercy is also full up on the grit required to face all of those creatures who are stronger than her.  Facing them in her daily life – her neighbors happen to be werewolves – and facing them in battles she often doesn’t expect to win.   She fights those battles because friends are in trouble, or sometimes, it’s her enemies who are in trouble.

Life is complicated, but really, really interesting, in Mercy Thompson’s Tri Cities.

Iron Kissed

Iron Kissed

#1 Moon Called
#2 Blood Bound
#3 Iron Kissed
#4 Bone Crossed
#5 Silver Borne
#6 River Marked
#7 Frost Burned
#8 Night Broken

If your local library doesn’t have these titles, you can borrow them from the Washington State Library through interlibrary loan.


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