WA Secretary of State Blogs

Linking the Past with the Present

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 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.

Women’s History Month – Josephine Corliss Preston

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public | No Comments »


Another treasure for Women’s History in the Manuscript Collection of the State Library is the newspaper clipping scrapbook of Josephine Corliss Preston, which has been digitized and added to our Classics in Washington History. Mrs. Preston was the first woman elected to statewide office in Washington state government after women were granted the right to vote in 1910, defeating another female candidate, Mary Monroe. Elected as the 6th State Superintendent of Public Instruction, she served from 1913 to 1928. Her scrapbook documents her efforts as she became a Republican candidate for office in 1912 and continues through 1920.

Mrs. Preston began her career as a teacher at the age of 14 in Minnesota and taught in Walla Walla from 1896-1903. She served as assistant county superintendent and deputy superintendent of the Walla Walla County schools during the years of 1904-1912. As State superintendent, Mrs. Preston was nationally recognized for obtaining legislation that allowed tax money to be used to cover the cost of building homes for teachers – called teacher’s cottages. This meant teachers would no longer have to be passed around to board with local families or, worse, be essentially homeless.

Women’s History Month – Emma Smith DeVoe

Monday, March 17th, 2014 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public, State Library Collections | No Comments »

From the Desk of Marlys Rudeen

Emma Smith DeVoeThe Manuscript Collection of the State Library holds a treasure for Women’s History —the Emma Smith DeVoe Papers.  This collection consists of 6 archival boxes of correspondence and  several scrapbooks chronicling the activities of Washington State’s most famous suffragist.  Mrs. DeVoe was an impassioned organizer, leader, and lecturer for the National American Woman Suffrage Association. She eventually became president of the Washington Equal Suffrage Association.

These letters and manuscripts came into the possession of fellow suffrage worker, Bernice A. Sapp, who assembled and indexed them.  The Digital and Historical Collections staff decided to undertake the digitization of the collection to prolong the life of these manuscripts and to provide expanded access to citizens – especially students and teachers.  The project was funded by a grant from the Washington’s Women’s History Consortium and the collection can be viewed at their web site at: http://www.washingtonhistory.org/research/whc/WHCcollections/wsl/

DeVoe was one of the major personalities involved in moving Washington State being the fifth state in the country to adopt full suffrage for women in 1910 – ten years before the national constitutional amendment was passed.  While she occasionally clashed with some of the other strong personalities in the movement she was a tireless worker and keen strategist.  Unlike their counterparts in England, American woman suffragists adopted the tactic of the “still hunt”, using ladylike demeanors and calm reason to persuade the men of the state to grant them the vote as a matter of simple justice.

DeVoe went on to found the National Council of Women Voters in 1911 to bring together western voting women in order to move toward national suffrage.  The group eventually merged with the League of Women Voters in 1920.  She later became active in the Republican Party and wrote from that viewpoint for the Tacoma News Tribune.

Announcing North Olympic Heritage, a new digital collection!

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For the Public | No Comments »


The Washington Rural Heritage initiative is pleased to announce a new digital collection: North Olympic Heritage.

A project of the Port Angeles Main Library of the North Olympic Library System, this collection includes hundreds of photographs of pioneers, Native Americans, trains, ships, logging scenes, and views of early towns and sites in Clallam and Jefferson counties digitized from the expansive Bert Kellogg Photograph Collection.

In 1970, local resident Bert Kellogg donated his collection of over 5,000 photos and negatives depicting life on the Olympic Peninsula during the late 19th and early 20th centuries to the North Olympic Library System. Kellogg amassed the collection by borrowing and copying images from families and individuals, and by combing through rummage sales for prints and negatives during a 30 year period. Until now, access to this great collection has largely been limited to those who are able to visit the Port Angeles Library in person.



Working on a Washington Rural Heritage grant and leveraging a fairly robust pre-existing Access database, local project manager Rebecca Nugent and her staff (thanks, Tim!) at the Port Angeles Library have managed to digitize approximately 25 percent of the Bert Kellogg Collection in a single yeara huge feat resulting in 1158 digital items!



Highlights from the digital collection include:

Following this initial project, the Port Angeles Main Library has recently been awarded another Washington Rural Heritage grant for the 2013-2014 year to continue digitizing images from the Bert Kellogg Collection. Look for more great images as they add to this rich digital collection over the winter and spring.

2013-2014 Washington Rural Heritage grants awarded

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public, Grants and Funding | No Comments »

Display of canned salmon at first Clallam County fair, 1895. North Olympic Heritage Collection.

Display of canned salmon at first Clallam County Fair, 1895. North Olympic Heritage Collection.

Congratulations to the latest group of Washington libraries and museums receiving 2013-2014 LSTA grant awards through the Washington Rural Heritage initiative!

  • Ellensburg Public Library.
  • Orcas Island Public Library, in partnership with the Orcas Island Historical Museum.
  • Port Angeles Public Library (North Olympic Library System).
  • Sedro-Woolley Public Library, in partnership with the Clear Lake Community Historical Association.
  • Sunnyside Library (Yakima Valley Libraries), in partnership with the Sunnyside Historical Society.
  • Walla Walla County Rural Library District.
  • Whitman County Library, in partnership with the Pine City Historical Society.

These organizations will spend the next year digitizing historically significant materials from their own holdings, the holdings of partnering heritage organizations, and in some cases, privately held collections. Read more about each specific grant project here.

Libraries currently participating in grant-funded digitization projects this year (FY 2012) are busy wrapping up their new collections as of this writing. Look for announcements here as new projects come online.

Funds for Washington Rural Heritage are made available by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. For more information, contact Evan Robb, Project Manager, (360) 704-5228.

New Digital Collection: Lincoln County Heritage

Friday, March 15th, 2013 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, Technology and Resources | No Comments »

We are proud to announce Lincoln County Heritage – a small, yet very cool new digital collection from Washington Rural Heritage — as well as a brand new website for the Davenport Public Library!


Davenport Public Library

The Davenport Library’s new web presence, built on a Drupal content management platform by our own Evelyn Lindberg, was developed as part of the Washington ReadyWeb Project (WaRP). Davenport joins the Reardan Memorial Library, the Ritzville Public Library, and the Denny Ashby Library in Pomeroy who all have a new and powerful, yet easy to use website from the WaRP initiative.

Irrigation ditch at Peach

Irrigation ditch at Peach




Lincoln County Heritage, a collaboration between the Lincoln County Historical Museum (LCHM) and the Davenport Public Library, is our latest digital collection which came together through the help of Davenport librarian Katy Pike and LCHM staffer Tannis Jeschke, with imaging assistance from Washington Rural Heritage staff.

Highlights from the collection include:

  • Late 19th century images of the U.S. Army at Fort Spokane.
  • Early 20th century images of the community of Peach, Washingtonalong the lower Spokane River — one of many towns in northern Lincoln County submerged by the rising waters of Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake, following the completion of the Grand Coulee Dam in the early 1940s.
Foot bridge over the Spokane River narrows

Foot bridge over the Spokane River narrows

For more information about Washington Rural Heritage, contact Evan Robb, Project Manager: (360)704-5228, evan.robb@sos.wa.gov; or Ross Fuqua, Digital Projects Librarian: (360)570-5587, ross.fuqua@sos.wa.gov.

For more information about Washington WebReady Project (WaRP), please contact Evelyn Lindberg, Project Manager: (360)704-5228, evelyn.lindberg@sos.wa.gov.

Better Digital Collections, Comment by Comment

Thursday, January 24th, 2013 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For the Public | No Comments »

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.



VIH0025_Vashon_College_grads 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.


WCLCF022_Newton_and_CrawfordFinally, 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!

Goat carts! WRH stumbles across a photographic genre

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections | 6 Comments »

Sometimes a seemingly insignificant coincidence can turn into a meaningful connection… or at least send you down a rabbit hole of late-night Googling.

A few weeks ago, I was visiting the Davenport, Washington public library for a couple days with Washington Rural Heritage (WRH) Project Manager Evan Robb. We were there helping Davenport librarian Katy Pike develop a small digital collection through a partnership with the Lincoln County Historical Museum.

After two productive days scanning photographs and documents we packed up our gear and were getting ready to leave when Tannis Jeschke of the Lincoln County Museum pulled out one last photo. The image, from the 1910s or 1920s, showed two children posed in a cart being pulled by… a goat. We all laughed at the humorous image, and I lamented the fact that we’d already loaded our scanner and laptops into the car.

Italian-American girl, Denver, 1926, from Denver Public Library Digital Collections

Katy Pike took another look at the goat cart photo and said, “Hmm… at home, I have a very similar photo of my grandmother sitting in a goat cart just like this one.” I asked where the photo of her grandmother was taken and she believed it was somewhere in the greater Spokane area. We all agreed this must have been from the same photographer and most likely the same goat and cart. We headed home and forgot about goat carts….. until….

A week later we were helping Susan Johns and Lissa Duvall of Whatcom County Library System finalize their brand new WRH collection, Nooksack Valley Heritage, when we noticed this goat cart image (below), taken in Bellingham in 1928.

Three goat carts within a single week seemed too good to be true… So I starting looking online for more.

Two children in a buggy or cart behind a harnessed goat, Bellingham, WA, 1928. Nooksack Valley Heritage, WRH.

As it turns out, the goat cart was a common device for traveling photographers to use for soliciting business to create portrait photography and photo postcards, from the late 19th century through the 1920s.

This kind of image was at one time so prevalent, in fact, the Library of Congress has included Goat carts as a controlled term in their Thesaurus of Graphic Materials – the same controlled vocabulary we use to provide subject access to materials within Washington Rural Heritage Collections. Our cursory research has turned up goat cart images from all across the United States, from New England to the Deep South, and throughout the Midwest and Western States.

This fun discovery has also moved us to try out the social bookmarking tool Pinterest at WSL to “collect” images of goat carts from other digital collections and sources around the Web. Check it out and follow our ‘Goat Carts’ Pinterest board.

Goat carts on Pinterest, from Washington State Library


Our Internet friends at HistoryPin have also jumped on the goat cart, er, bandwagon this week, too. They’ve started a collection of geo-referenced goat cart images featuring our Nooksack Valley image, as well as one made as far away as Brisbane, Australia! If you have not yet played around with HistoryPin, we encourage you to check out this amazing, crowd-sourced resource.Historypin Collection - Goat Carts!

New Digital Collection: Nooksack Valley Heritage

Friday, September 28th, 2012 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public | No Comments »


Gordon and June Thompson in goat-drawn carriage, Everson, Washington, 1928.

A new digital collection from the Whatcom County Library System is providing access to historical materials first gathered more than a decade ago.  From 1995 to 1999, a collaborative, citizen-led effort in Whatcom County sought to document the unique primary sources found in family collections throughout the Nooksack River Valley.  Known as the Whatcom Memories Photograph and Interview Project, and co-sponsored by the Lynden Pioneer Museum and the Whatcom Museum of History and Art, the project solicited materials from private collections, photographed and described them, and returned them to their owners.  Since that time, the materials have only been available to researchers visiting these institutions in person.

For its 2011-2012 Washington Rural Heritage grant project, the Everson McBeath Community Library (a branch of the Whatcom County Library System) digitized more than 500 items from this project.  Focusing on the communities of Everson, Nooksack, Clearbrook, Glen Echo, and Hopewell, the collection includes material from more than 40 Whatcom County families, many of whom were original pioneers and homesteaders in the area.

Collection highlights include:

Congratulations to the staff and volunteers at the Everson McBeath Community Library for making this grant project a resounding success.  According to local project manager, Susan Johns: “With the digitization of this collection and online access through the Washington State Library, it is now available to anyone, anywhere. This will be an incredible resource for all present and future generations.”

Y.M.C.A. ascent of Mount Baker, Deming Glacier in background.

The Everson McBeath Community Library joins more than 80 cultural institutions in 30 communities throughout the state that have digitized material with assistance from the Washington Rural Heritage initiative. Washington Rural Heritage sub-grants are made possible with Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funding provided by the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Washington State Library, a division of the Office of the Secretary of State.

For more information about Washington Rural Heritage, contact Evan Robb, Project Manager: (360)704-5228, evan.robb@sos.wa.gov.

New digital resources from Asotin County Heritage

Monday, August 20th, 2012 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections | No Comments »

Asotin County Library has recently added over 100 newly digitized photographs to the Asotin County Heritage collection with the assistance of a grant from the State Library’s Washington Rural Heritage initiative!

Oliver Brodock and his cat, 1940

Oliver Brodock poses with his cat outside his service garage in the Silcott area of Asotin County, Washington, 1940.

Asotin County Library director Jennifer Ashby and cataloger/metadata specialist Marjean Riggers partnered with local resident Eva Lynn Thomson this year to digitize a portion of Thomson’s family collection, documenting the history of the Wilson Banner Ranch and the Silcott area along the Snake River just west of Clarkston, Washington.

In 2010, the Asotin County Library and the Asotin County Museum joined over 65 cultural institutions throughout the state that have digitized material with grants from the Washington Rural Heritage initiative. Grant funds are available  to public and tribal libraries serving populations under 25,000, funded through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Packing crew at White Brothers & Crum Orchards, 1910.

Packing crew at White Brothers & Crum Orchards, 1910.

If you have comments or additional information about any of the items in the Asotin County Heritage collection — or would like to contribute your own material for digitization — please contact the Asotin County Library.

And keep an eye out for a number of new Washington Rural Heritage projects to be published in the coming weeks! Find out more (or subscribe to this blog) right here.