WA Secretary of State Blogs

NW Card File Starts the Journey to Online Access

Monday, April 15th, 2013 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public, News, State Library Collections, Technology and Resources | No Comments »

0415131231aFrom the desk of Steve Willis, Central Library Services Program Manager of the Washington State Library:

What do these people have in common?

John Anderson – the Swedish immigrant who served as a consulting engineer in the construction of the USS Monitor and after the Civil War settled in King County, where he continued to tinker and invent.

Grover Andrews – “The Destroying Angel” who was a leader the Morrisite Colony in the Waitsburg region in the 1880s.

Donald Archer – The daredevil student from The Evergreen State College who in 1980 donned a costume with wings and big bug eyes, then climbed the side of the Federal Building in Seattle.

Dr. Nettie Asberry – The first African American woman in the United States to receive a doctorate degree, Nettie was an early civil rights activist in Tacoma who lived to the age of 103 in 1968.

Yes, all of them have surnames starting with the letter “A.” And, they are a part of Washington State history as indexed in the Northwest Card File.

This searching tool is comprised of 180 card catalog drawers divided into two groups: personal names, and, topical subjects. The file serves as a finding aid for Washington State newspaper articles, obituaries, book chapters, pamphlets– indexing the collection in much more detail than a traditional card catalog.

It appears the Northwest Card File was started in the early 1950s, although it indexes material much older than that. In the early 1990s the File was basically retired, and the indexing was performed on computer. Stored on Bernoulli drives, the indexes were printed into hardcopy form. By the mid-1990s a more updated online index was introduced and continues to this day.

Throughout 2012 WSL staff from Central Library Services (Glenn Parsons, Marlys Rudeen, Sean Lanksbury, Shirley Lewis) working with Evelyn Lindberg of Library Development, designed a database to provide online access to the Northwest Card File. We are hoping to provide public access to the index in increments as we go. Inputting started on a trial basis in late October, but really began at the start of 2013 when WSL volunteer David Lane joined the project.

Two and half drawers later David has completed the “A” surname file! As he dives into the letter “B” I can either figure out how to clone him, or, make a pitch to our faithful readers out there with strong data entry experience to join the project as a volunteer. If you are interested in helping us build this unique finding aid please contact Steven Willis, Program Manager for Central Library Services, ph: (360) 704-5276, email: steve.willis@sos.wa.gov for details.

Happy Birthday to the Temple of Justice!

Friday, January 18th, 2013 Posted in Articles | No Comments »

wsl_MS0321_MaryanReynoldsWSLStacksTempleOfJusticeCirca1952aToday marks Centennial Celebration of the Washington State Temple of Justice building, home to the State Supreme Court.  The Temple is also home to the Washington State Law Library, but did you know that the building also housed the Washington State Library for 45 years?  This excerpt, taken from “Historic Sites of the Washington State and Territorial Library: 1853 to the present,” tells more…

In 1913, the library collection’s were relocated “temporarily” (from the Old State Capitol Building) to five small rooms in the basement of the Temple of Justice, with the rarest items placed into a vault. The Temple of Justice, home of the Washington State Supreme Court, is the oldest building of the Wilder and White capitol plan on the Capitol grounds, dating back to 1912. Though started in 1912, construction was not fully completed until 1920 due to issues with construction financing. Upon completion of the Legislative Building, the library was supposed to move into dedicated space there. This plan was never realized for when the Legislative Building was completed in 1928, the spaces had already been taken over by other state agencies.  Other plans for relocating the collection were devised over the years: moving the collection back to the Old State Capitol Building following a remodel, into “available space” in the General Administration Building, or into a remodeled Labor and Industries Building. All proposals were rejected, often because the costs were close to or the same as creating an entirely new dedicated facility.

Changes and growth began to occur at the library during its stay at the Temple. In February of 1933 State Librarian Mildred Pope established an official Legislative Reference Service. In 1939, portions of the Daughters of Pioneer Collection were relocated and housed at the Washington State Library, including the McCardle index.  In 1941 the Washington State Library Commission was created.  It had five members:  four appointed by Governor, with the Superintendent of Public Instruction as the fifth. In 1944 legal responsibility was vested in the Library Commission, which adopted a Statement of Policy on January 20, 1944.  In 1948 the Washington Library Association wrote a proposal for an Institutional Library Program for Washington State Institutions.  This proposal advanced the idea of a cooperative arrangement between the Department of Institutions and the Washington State Library for reading and reference services.  For many years the proposal would be discussed without any concrete partnership materializing.  In 1951 the library also partnered with the State Archives to initiate the microfilming of archival newspapers and manuscript files. By March 2, 1953, the library’s 100th anniversary, 271,700 volumes were listed in the collection.  Though it was cramped for space and the collections were in serious peril, the library put on a brave face; celebrating its centennial with a tea and open house for dignitaries.

Note: The Washington State Library was a division of the Department of Education at one time.

In 1955 The Tacoma News Tribune described the legislative treatment of the library as akin to being the “stepchild of state government.” It reported on the inappropriate quarters and the neglectful condition of the library.  What follows is one passage from the article:

Housed in congested quarters in the basement of the Temple of Justice at Olympia is the Washington State Library which has become a maze of confusion because of lack of space. Irreplaceable books and papers are in danger of destruction because they cannot be given proper care…rare historical documents and newspaper files share space with office files under steam and water pipes.  Much of this material is deteriorating faster than staff members can repair it. … No public reading space is available, books are piled high and narrow aisles are often completely blocked.

Despite the dire conditions and poor public perception, a glint of optimism was in the air.  A new library bill garnering strong political support from members of both major parties was introduced that year.  The proposal was to create a separate and dedicated building as part of the Capitol Campus.  This building would be funded from the state building fund, which received money from the sale of timber on state-owned lands, removing the need for new taxes to be raised.

More information on the history of the State Library can be found on our website and in the book Dynamics of Change, by former State Librarian Maryan E. Reynolds (also pictured above).

The Public Library as an Institution

Monday, January 14th, 2013 Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public | No Comments »

West Valley Branch Computers

 “The library, like other institutions, is not an isolated and independent structure. It is organically related to the rest of society and, therefore, it is influenced by many social forces, including the distribution of the population, wealth, economic trends, taxation methods, trading areas, improved communication and transportation, the increased mechanization and the resulting leisure, and the trend toward regionalism. The development of the library as an institution appears meaningful only when its development is related to the impact of these social forces…” 

“If the effectiveness of the library as a social institution is to be increased, library development in the future must be planned along the lines indicated by the social trends which are now apparent.”

“As a whole, the modern library is conceived by the professional librarian predominantly as an institution serving a group rather than a storehouse of books. That is, the stress is on use, rather than on keeping and preserving material.”

If you guessed that this was written about the modern library in the digital age you would be wrong. Credit must be given to June Voss Strother who in 1938 included these words as part of the introduction in her Master’s Thesis, The Development and the Adequacy of the Library as an Institution in the State of Washington in fulfillment of the Masters of Arts at the University of Washington.

I would agree that the public library then and now is about much more than being a storehouse of books and of keeping and preserving materials. The public library is integral to its community and the people living there. The public library is there to serve the needs of residents and must adapt to changes in information and society if it is to remain relevant.

Jeff Martin
Acting Library Development Program Manager
Washington State Library

Looking for Pacific Northwest Native Resources?

Friday, November 16th, 2012 Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, State Library Collections, Tribal | 1 Comment »

Washington State Library Pacific Northwest and Special Collections compiled a selection of resources on the language, culture and intercultural connections of the first peoples of the Pacific Northwest, as part of the Washington State Heritage Center’s exhibit “We’re Still Here: The Survival of Washington Indians.”  In honor of the federally recognized Native American Heritage Month 2012, the State Library is highlighting this list in hopes that it will stoke your interest in the diversity of native peoples hailing from the State of Washington.

“We’re Still Here” is display at the lobby of the Office of the Secretary of State, inside the Washington State Legislative Building, until April of 2013.  Supported and vetted by many Washington Indians, this exhibit displays colorful artifacts to tell compelling and personal stories. Artifacts include rare baskets, tools, feather hats, ceremonial colorful clothing and drums.

View/Download the resource list: Washington State Library, First Peoples of Washington State: Selected Resources*

Read more on the exhibit: We’re Still Here: The Survival of Washington Indians


* The resource list has been published using Adobe’s Portable Document Format (PDF); you will need the free Adobe reader in order to read it, available for download at get.adobe.com/reader.

Beriah Brown and the Puget Sound Dispatch

Friday, October 19th, 2012 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public, News | No Comments »

The Puget Sound Dispatch, published in Seattle from 1871 to 1880, has been added to the Washington State Library’s Historic Washington Newspapers Online.

Published Weekly from 1871 to 1880, the newspaper was launched by Beriah Brown and Charles H. Larrabee in December 1871. Brown, who also served for one term as mayor of Seattle in 1878, was known to be a strongly opinionated editorialist. So much so, that it is sometimes hard to distinguish between his editorials and the articles he wrote about everyday local occurrences. Since the newspaper was published during what is sometimes called the “railroad period” in the Pacific Northwest, he had much to say about the railroads and their officials, a truly hot button issue of the day.  But, as noted by an essay at Historylink.org, he also had strong words for a group of white parents complaining about “colored” children taking classes at the university. Brown wrote in the January 29, 1874 Puget Sound Dispatch that “Every child of African descent born in this country has the same right of access to our public schools as the children of the most privileged of Caucassian [sic] blood. No teacher or school officer has any more legal right to exclude one than the other”. He was opinionated and ahead of his time. Brown was also noted for composing his articles as he set them in type, rather than first writing them down on paper. Financial difficulties forced Brown to sell the paper and it was merged with the Daily Intelligencer, which later became the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

The Historic Washington Newspapers Online  project was purposely designed for students, genealogists, and historians to easily access historical information. It provides viewers with the ability to search by keywords, dates, subjects, and personal names. To view the newspapers, please visit www.sos.wa.gov/history/newspapers.aspx.

Western State Hospital Library takes a look at history

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012 Posted in Articles, Institutional Library Services | 2 Comments »

Western State Hosptial

Kathleen Benoun at Western State Hospital Library has done it again.  Not only does she keep the patients and staff happy in the libraryher love of history has drawn her to help create the historical museum on the grounds of Washington State Hospital.  Now that love of history and the library has combined to bring a great program to the hospital treatment centers.  This program is a great addition to the library services at Western State Hospital.  Check out the attached flyer to see how Kathleen showcases the hospital’s rich history.

Discover Olympia, Washington and its history through postcards.

Thursday, June 7th, 2012 Posted in Washington Reads | No Comments »

Olympia (Postcard history series). By Jill Bullock. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Pub., 2010. 127 p.

Recommendation by:
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

Available at the Washington State Library,  NW 979.779 BULLOCK 2010
Not available as an eBook, talking book, or as a Braille edition.

Washington State Civil War Veterans signed up for a return to Gettysburg.

Thursday, October 27th, 2011 Posted in Articles | 1 Comment »

The Washington State Special Collections contains nearly 600 distinct manuscript collections.  What unifies these collections is their focus on Pacific Northwest and Washington State history, but oftentimes the primary documents contained within each box has broader national or international appeal.

One example of this broader appeal is Washington State Library’s collection of Civil War veterans’ correspondence concerning attendance of the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg reunion, 1913 (MS 115).  Consider the following description, taken from the catalog record:

“This is a collection of correspondence concerning the Washington State delegation to the reunion of Civil War veterans’ from the Battle of Gettysburg in Gettysburg, PA. In 1945, the Office of the Auditor of Washington State weeded their general correspondence file and found they had a file of correspondence from the reunion of the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.
In 1913, the Washington State Legislator passed an appropriation bill of about $15,000 to send the surviving Civil War veterans of the Battle of Gettysburg to Pennsylvania to attend the 50th anniversary reunion. It was a reunion of both Union and Confederate soldiers that fought and survived that Battle. The ceremonies were held on July 1-4, 1913 at the battlefield. Because the veterans of this battle were elderly and many financially unable to attend the reunion, the Legislature passed appropriations to pay for their trip.
It appears that all the procedures for determining who was eligible to attend were confusing. There are letters from some veterans requesting information about how to apply, what they need to do and what proof was required to prove their eligibility? Because the reunion was for both Union and Confederate soldiers, many of the Confederate soldiers questioned how they could prove their eligibility. It was difficult to prove their participation because they did not receive discharge papers at the end of the War. There is original correspondence from individual soldiers.”

This fascinating collection also contains correspondence from the railroads for proposals with quotes on the cost of the transportation and descriptions of what would be included in the trip, a copy of the itinerary of the special train to attend the celebration, a list of the veterans in the train program, and a typescript of all of the veterans with their addresses that made up the Washington State delegation that attended the reunion.  A few of the items are facsimiles of material kept at the Washington State Archives, but most of the collection is made of originals.

As our nation commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, and approaches the anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, the State Library is taking special strides to provide access to our Civil War-related materials.  Want to get a better look at this collection, or learn more about what the State Library has to offer war researchers?  Feel free to contact the State Library Special Collections or use the Washington State Library “Ask-a-Librarian” service for further information. Too far away to visit?  The library has recently scanned much of the related material to make it more readily available to researchers.

The Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania was fought around July 1–3, 1863 and is considered by many the turning point in the Civil War.  For more information about the battle, the American Civil War, and Washington State’s Civil War veterans, please consider some of these links:

Cook in a good mood with the Wisdom of Elders.

Thursday, October 20th, 2011 Posted in Washington Reads | 1 Comment »

Wisdom of Elders: Traditional Food Ways of Five Tribes in Western Washington.  Recipes collected and cookbook edited by Melissa E. Christy.  (Phoenix, AZ : National Society for American Indian Elderly (NSAIE) ; Shelton, WA : South Puget Intertribal Planning Agency (SPIPA), 2008. 64 p.

Recommendation by:
Rand Simmons, Acting Washington State Librarian, Tumwater, WA.

The delight of this small book is that it provides glimpses into the history, culture, and daily living of the people of five Western Washington tribes. Reflecting the wisdom of elders from the Skokomish Tribal Nation, Shoalwater Bay Indian Tribe, Squaxin Island Tribe, Confederate Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation and Nisqually Indian Tribe, this small book is chocked full of recipes, ancient and modern, photographs, and remembrances provided by tribal elders.

Readers can learn how people preserved and cooked food when there were no refrigerators, freezers, microwaves or electricity. Basic information on Lushootseed, the Puget Sound Salish language, at the back of the book includes examples of pronunciation and phrases. Sound advice can be gleaned: “Cook while you are in a good mood and love who you cook for” – Tschudub Indian Shaker Church belief. Many of the recipes can made using common pantry items: flour, sugar, baking powder eggs and oil. For other recipes, you may need assistance gathering kinnikinnick berries and salmon eggs or making tuddee from fern roots. But if you have a penchant for geoduck patties, this book will provide you with the recipe.

Colorful photographs help identify what ingredients and finish foods look like. Yes, this is a cookbook but it is so much more. This book is ideal for the cook who is collecting Pacific Northwest cookbooks, for librarians who are selecting materials on the Pacific Northwest, for school librarians who need basic information on Indians of the Pacific Northwest for their students’ curricular needs and for the generally curious reader. A joint project of the National Society for American Indian Elderly (NSAIE) and the South Puget Intertribal Planning Agency (SPIPA) Wisdom of the Elders was produced with funds granted by the Administration for Native Americans as part of its Knowledge Preservation Project. Melissa E. Christy collected the recipes, edited the cookbook, and contributed photographs.

For more information on this project and the NSAIE , visit http://nsaie.org/projects/the-wisdom-of-elders-cookbook/

Available at the Washington State Library,  NW 641.5929 WISDOM 2008
Not available as an eBook, talking book, or as a Braille edition.

Pelts help settle the New World.

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011 Posted in Washington Reads | No Comments »

Fur, Fortune, and Empire: The Epic History of the Fur Trade in America.  By Eric Jay Dolin. New York, N.Y. : W.W. Norton & Co., 2010. 442 p.

Recommendation submitted by Gordon Russ, Volunteer, Washington State Library, Tumwater, WA

Mr. Dolin takes us on a journey, following the fur trappers west as America grows in size and maturity.  His story starts in the late 1500s with some of the early French explorers.  The fur trade really gets going in the 1620s with the coming of the Dutch settlers and their need for income. They start a vigorous trade with the Native Americans for beaver pelts, much desired in Europe.   The French and English quickly join the Dutch as they migrate to North America in search of new lands, religious freedom, and the need for income.  They too find the need to trade for the highly valued furs in the virgin lands.  The battle for Beaver pelts stirs much unrest between the home countries of these early settlers this leads to conflicts in Europe as well.

The fur trade moves west into the Great Lakes, up the Missouri river, into the Rocky Mountains, then down the Columbia River. Dolin takes us on an adventure: introducing us to the colorful people and characters of the of the fur trade such as Henry Hudson, John “Big Belly” Printz, John Jacob Astor, Christopher Hudson “Kit” Carson, Jim Bridger, Jedediah Smith, “Buffalo Bill” Cody and many others are introduced.  The book becomes a good primer of American History.  Dolin ties together those stories of our past and its people into a continuous thread of how we became who we are.

While the Beaver Fur trade and the genesis of America are percolating on the East Coast, the Spanish and Russians are not forgotten as they nibble away at the West coast in search of the Sea Otter.  All parties come together for the final confrontation right here in the Pacific North West.  As the battle for dominance of this new land rages, the participants drop out one at a time.  First, the Spanish leave, then the Russians and French, which leaves only the British and Americans to confront each other on the new frontier for the furs.  They discover they both have exhausted the Beaver, the Sea Otter and the reason they were there in the first place.  This leaves the land to those who wanted it – the Native Americans and the Americans, but that is another story for another time.

So sit back and wrap yourself in your favorite buffalo robe and enjoy a good read of adventure and riches.

ISBN-13: 9780393067101

Available at WSL, NW 381.4568 DOLIN 2010
Available as an eBook.
Not available in talking book or Braille editions.