WA Secretary of State Blogs

The West Shore – Enticing settlers to the late 19th century Pacific Northwest

Monday, June 30th, 2014 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public, State Library Collections, Uncategorized | No Comments »

From the desk of Marlys Rudeen, Deputy State Librarian

A recent addition to the State Library’s digital collections is the lavishly illustrated West Shore. This literary and general interest magazine was published from Aug. 1875-Mar. 1891. The Washington State Library owns some of the issues from 1880-1890, and has digitized the issues and made them available online. (Warning – some of the PDFs are large and do take some time to load.)

According to its tagline from the 1885 issues, the West Shore is “An illustrated journal of general information devoted to the development of the Great West” and is published in Tacoma and Portland. It is meant to serve as a booster for the whole Northwest region, encouraging investment and immigration. It also serves as a general news journal for western residents, keeping them informed on both local issues and developments from back east as well.

By the early 1880’s, each issue looks in depth at a couple of locales, discussing their suitability for farming or raising a family. The articles report on local industries, the economy, churches, types of farming, climate, and transportation. In the illustrations the locale is represented by drawings of public buildings and private homes.  westshore

The issue for Aug. 1883, covers Jackson Co., Ore. and Vancouver, W.T. May 1885 takes a good look at North Yakima in “Building a Town” (p. 135). The issue for Jan. 18, 1890 examines the charms of Kittitas Co., the history of St. Joseph’s Mission near Coeur d’Alene, and Ashland and the Rogue River Valley.

In the early years, the editors were in the habit of reprinting articles, stories or poetry from other publications. The Jan. 1880 issue attributes material to the New England Farmer, Rural Press, The Alliance, North American Review, Reno Gazette, London Telegraph, and Harper’s Magazine.

By May 1885 there are fewer articles from other journals, although it’s possible that the editor is just not attributing as carefully as before since there are short articles on such diverse interests as: Hindu temples, Jugglers of India, Iguanas, and the Japanese city of Kumamoto. More space is given to short local news notes. The emphasis on exploring the characters of a variety of regions and towns continues, as do extensive coverage of railroads, lumber, coal, fishing and other commercial interests.

The magazine also presents articles on many topics of general interest, such as:

  • Women in Massachusetts being allowed to vote in the school board elections for the first time (Jan. 1880, p. 19)
  • Poisons and their Antidotes (Jan. 1880, p. 2)
  • Microscopic Discovery of Malarial Poison (Jan. 1880, p. 30)Langshan
  • Immigration problems (May 1885, p. 130)
  • Great indignation about suspected census fiddling. “Grand larceny of 50,000 people is what Oregon charges against Superintendent Porter and his beer-guzzling subordinates…” (Oct. 25, 1890, p. 162)
  • Agriculture report gathers reports from various local papers (Aug. 1883, p. 176)

The West Shore also includes poetry, short stories and jokes, but one of its most significant characteristics was the wonderful illustrations scattered throughout the issues to illuminate articles or to picture the northwest cities and towns that it featured. Even an article on a particular breed of chicken , Langshan Fowls, in the Jan. 1880 issue (p. 22) includes this wonderful engraving.

coverartThe cover art for the May 1885 issue attempts to portray the abundance of natural resources in the Northwest.

The issue also gives the reader a Bird’s Eye view of the growing city of North Yakima.

Bird's Eye View of North Yakima

Bird’s Eye View of North Yakima

By 1890, the West Shore has begun to experiment with color!

And even with some ‘social issue’ illustrations.

The West Shore was an ambitious undertaking and had the largest circulation of any Northwest publication for a time. It provides a unique record of the Pacific Northwest in the last part of the 19th century, and the State Library is happy to make its issues available online.

To see other digital collections at the State Library visit the Library web site:

The Washington State Library is a Division of the Office of the Secretary of State.

Life in Colville 1907-08

Friday, June 20th, 2014 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public, State Library Collections | No Comments »

From the desk of Marlys Rudeen:

A sampling of the local news from the Colville Examiner from Oct. 31, 1907-Jan. 1908 provides a vivid view of life in the north half of Stevens County. One thing that stands out is that the Colvillians were a traveling bunch. They visited and were visited on a regular basis, travelling to family and friends in other small towns, the big city of Spokane, and relatives in the Midwest or eastern states. Departures and arrivals are noted carefully in the local sections of the paper. Colville Examiner 1907

The editor, J. C. Harrigan, also includes articles and short snippets on roads, railroads, mines, church events, clubs, appointments of government officials, and entertainments. Births are welcomed, marriages celebrated, and deaths mourned. The overall picture is of a vigorous, social community that is busy laboring, building businesses, and seeking entertainment.

I’ve recorded below some bits that caught my eye, but I encourage you to visit the Colville Examiner on your own through Chronicling America Choose the browse option, choose a year and an issue, and dive in.

Nov. 9, 1907

p. 13 “Lizzie Paschilke, who enjoys the unenviable reputation of being under indictment for horse stealing, entered a plea of guilty in the Superior Court last Saturday and was sentenced to a term in the state industrial school in Chehalis. Her mother was convicted of a similar charge in the Spokane County court last week and sent to the state penitentiary.”

 “George H. Bevan of Kettle Falls was in Colville Thursday. Mr. Bevan is a road commissioner… He is also a democrat and has no hesitation in letting it be known.”

 Nov. 16, 1907

p. 11 “The Colville high school football team met defeat at Coeur d’Alene last Saturday, but by a smaller margin than that of the previous game, which shows our boys are improving with practice…” Colville Examiner 1907

 Nov. 30, 1907

p. 17 “ Chewelah possesses a dancing school which meets every Thursday evening at the Odd Fellows Hall…”

 Dec. 7, 1907

p. 13 “For the benefit of any persons interested, it is announced that the cells for the new county jail will not be installed before the first of January. Of this take due notice and govern yourselves accordingly, for the time cometh when Sheriff Graham will not be obliged to sit on a nail keg with a shot gun all night to keep prisoners from escaping from the old fort building.”

 Dec. 14, 1907

p. 7 “The Ungathered Spinsters will hold their annual state convention some time in January. Watch for date.”

p. 17 “The Echo basket ball team is practicing twice a week and is busily engaged at all times in studying the rules of this popular indoor sport. The great interest manifested thus far found expression in an exceptionally forcible argument last Sunday.”

 Jan. 4, 1908

p. 13 “The moving picture subjects at the opera house this week are: The Adventuress, Love’s Tragedy, Following in Father’s Footsteps, The Bargain Fiend, An Artful Husband, How to Cure a Cold and Playing Pranks on the Gardener.”

Jan. 25, 1908

p. 13 “ Notice has been served upon the unsuspecting public of Colville that unless police interference is made, the Colville Imperial Minstrel Club will give its first series of gigantic girations at the opera house next Friday evening, Jan. 31. The public is invited to come and hear as much of the program as may seem reasonable. An admission fee will be charged for the purpose of keeping the club from giving another performance soon. Several new features will be introduced which have not yet been proscribed by law. A large orchestra of the city’s best musicians will accompany a chorus of the city’s worst vocalists as far as the new jail. A packed house will undoubtedly be present, and the sorrowing friends of the 15 young men in the minstrel club will anxiously wait for their safe return that evening.”

 The Colville Examiner was digitized through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities under the National Digital Newspaper Program. The Star and many other American newspapers can be found online at Chronicling America  at the Library of Congress.

Additional newspapers for Washington can be found at Historic Newspapers at the Washington State Library’s web site. The State Library is a Division of the Office of the Secretary of State.



Thursday, June 5th, 2014 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:

Found at random in the Sept. 12, 1905 issue of the always entertaining Seattle Star:tenderloin


Seattle’s three municipal problems, Annie Rooney, “Prof.” Price and “Yankee Frank,” are again guests at the taxpayers’ expense.

 Officers Brafford and Mayou gathered in the notorious trio Monday evening while patrolling their tenderloin beat. As usual, Annie Rooney went along with sprightly step. Annie expected to be sent up to headquarters in the hurry-up wagon, as she had been out of jail for at least two weeks. “Yankee Frank,” however, did not take things so phlegmatically. He protested in terms both emphatic and lurid. Frank is a well-known tenderloin character. At one time he owned a very profitable second-hand business and was held in respect by both the police and his many acquaintances. His business failed and he rapidly developed into a shiftless n’er-do-well.


 When the redoubtable “Prof.” Price, the “Cockney Kid,” self-appointed champion pugilist of the tenderloin, artistic poser, terpsichorean star and vaudeville headliner felt the brawney hand of Officer Brafford on his shoulder, he scorned armitices and peace treaties, and–

 Showed fight!

 Then it was that the spectators were treated to a pretty set-to between the “professor” and Patrolman Brafford. The latter did not resort to his club, but met the reknowned “professor” at his own game. There was no sparring for wind, no breaks to cover. Brafford sent a right to the head and planted a hard one on the point of Price’s jaw. Inasmuch as there was no rope to hold on to, Price grabbed the edge of the bar in the saloon where the arrest was made, and all the efforts of the policeman to dislodge him were in vain. Finally Brafford “swat” him another mighty one, and the “professor” hurled himself into the fray, only to be the receiving station of a third hearty jolt.

 Finally, with Annie on one arm and Price on another, Brafford started for the patrol box, where he met Officer Mayou with “Yankee Frank” in tow.

 The arrests created much talk in the tenderloin, many of the folk there claiming that the trio were harmless and should have been left alone. Annie, Price and Frank are tenderloin charges. They live through the charity of the men and women who make the underworld either their home or business address.

Annie Rooney was no stranger to Seattle headline writers. Born around 1868-1870 in New York, she was raised in Michigan as the second daughter of a wealthy doctor. She was said to have attended the Boston Conservatory of Music and was regarded as something of a musical prodigy. In the early 1880s she toured the Massachusetts entertainment circuit as one of the feature acts for the Bennett & Moulton’s Juvenile Opera Company under her birth name, Florence Story.

When Florence was about 16 she fell in love with a fire-eater and variety theater entertainer named Del Bartino. The two married, much to the disapproval of her parents, and headed to Seattle in 1886. They opened in box house theaters, which is to say they were saloons with a space dedicated for shows and other activities, to put it politely. The Bartinos worked with the legendary theater man John Cort, as well as Tacoma’s “Boss Sport,” Harry Morgan.

In Eugene Clinton Elliott’s A History of Variety-Vaudeville in Seattle from the Beginning to 1914, a playbill for Morgan’s Theater is reproduced, dated October 1, 1887. Florence is now called Flora Story, “a dashing little artist” and “the queen of the African harp.”

Everything came apart for Florence in 1889. Seattle’s business district burned down, wiping out every theater in town. And her marriage to Bartino crumbled. According to legend, she dressed as a boy and ran away to sea for a time. When she returned to Seattle she had become Annie Rooney, notorious drunk.

She might have borrowed the name from the title of a popular song of the era. She became such a celebrity problem in Seattle’s tenderloin district that at one point in March, 1903, the local police put her on a steamer with a one-way ticket to Whatcom.

But she came back.

In November, 1903, while in an extended stay at Western State Hospital, Annie had the experience of reading her obituary in several newspapers. “Nobody,” said WSH Superintendent C.M. Parks, “enjoyed those stories of her death more than did Annie Rooney herself.”

By 1905, when the above article was published, Seattle’s Tenderloin district was being pushed south as the downtown real estate became more valuable with the expansion of the city. The “Golden Age of Vice,” and the reign of characters like Annie Rooney, were coming to an end.









Newspaper Discussion: Preservation and Access Issues

Monday, April 22nd, 2013 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public, State Library Collections, Technology and Resources | No Comments »

From the desk of NDNP Coordinator, Shawn Schollmeyer:  In our NDNP Office located in the basement of Suzzallo Library at the University of Washington we share this insight into the world of newspaper digitization and preservation by guest writer Casey Lansinger. Casey participated as an intern in our program and will be graduating with an MLIS in June 2013.


In July of 2012, I left my sunny and dry hometown of Denver, CO for wet and green Seattle. I  suddenly found myself in a world where drivers are uncomfortably polite, the coffee is understandably strong and where this Colorado girl had to buy her first raincoat and pair of galoshes (yet still manages to get dripping wet with or without them). In Seattle, I would finish up my third and final year at University of Washington’s iSchool, where I am pursuing a Masters in Library and Information Science. My life in Denver, however, was all about journalism and writing. Prior to the big move I had spent the last five years at The Denver Post as an editorial assistant and occasional freelance writer. The connection here is a life-long infatuation with the written word. I’ll admit I did what we were all advised not to do on a Library School application: I explained that part of my wanting to become a librarian is because I am in love with books. They accepted me anyway.

From an early age, I’ve digested everything I could get my hands on; books have introduced me to characters that felt like friends; countless hours have been spent with my nose stuck in anything from embarrassingly trashy tabloid magazines to fascinating social justice articles from Mother Jones; and, of course, newspapers have opened my mind to what really matters to me. I like to highlight favorite passages in books and later transfer those passages to a journal. Or, in an act that tells me I’m turning more and more into my mother, I rip out articles from magazines or newspapers and stow them away for future reference. A big part of the connection for me is the tactile experience of handling the medium in which the written word is upon. I love taking an old book off of a shelf and smelling its musty pages; and, although I hated when it got on my clothing, I secretly loved the charcoal stain newsprint left on my hands while working at the Post. All of these experiences led to my involvement with the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP) through the Washington State Library.

When I first heard about NDNP, I envisioned an experience in which I could marry my two career interests: journalism SeattleStar_CSarticleand library science. The obvious draw was the word ‘Newspaper’; the word I was hesitant about, however, was ‘Digital’. Don’t get me wrong, the practicality of digitizing content has not been lost on me, nor has the reasoning behind some news sources going completely digital for that matter; but this doesn’t mean I haven’t been without concern for my beloved “old-fashioned” mediums. However, as a budding librarian in an environment that is experiencing sweeping change, I knew that being a part of NDNP would be an invaluable learning experience for me. I knew there was an entire conversation about digitization that I was missing out on; and here was my chance to be a part of that conversation.

NDNP is a country-wide initiative to digitize historic newspapers between the years 1836 and 1922. The Library of Congress (LOC) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) partnered together to make this project possible. Each state chooses one institution to apply for a grant to be a part of the program; after a grant is awarded, this institution can partner up with other institutions in the state to complete the digitization process. Each state is also responsible for selecting its own newspaper titles. In Washington’s case, Washington State Library and University of Washington have taken the reins. Additionally, such agencies as The Association for African American History and Preservation Research, Seattle Public Library, Washington State University History Department, Everett Public Library and Central Washington University have had representatives on the advisory committee for Washington State. Washington became involved with NDNP in 2008 and, as March, 2013, has contributed over 200,000 pages of historic newspapers to the Library of Congress digital repository that houses the newspaper pages: Chronicling America (chroniclingamerica.loc.gov). Currently, 22 states have contributed newspaper pages to the repository.  At the fingertips of the public (Chronicling America is an open-access repository – meaning free) is news, as it was unfolding, on the sinking of the Titanic, the Great Seattle Fire of 1889 or – a personal favorite – the first Carnegie Library. Or you can read about historic individuals such as Chief Seattle, Buffalo Bill or the Flapper girls. Stories come alive and context is created from these vessels of information.

And so, every Thursday and Friday morning you can find me in the basement of Suzzallo Library (on UW’s Seattle campus) where I perform a small, albeit important, part of the work-flow process in which newspaper pages are taken from microfilm all the way to what the end user sees on the Chronicling America website. I perform processing tasks on the newspaper pages, such as verifying page numbers (VPN) and optical character recognition (OCR) results. OCR consists of scanning the original newspaper page and converting the text to machine-encoded text, so that original pages can be archived as accurately as possible. The processing tasks must adhere to LOC standards and each state must follow very specific technical guidelines for processing pages. Not all of my work has been technical, however; a large part of my involvement with NDNP has been as an active participant in the access vs. preservation debate, a hot topic in the library field right now.

Do we preserve historic newspaper pages or do we digitize them? Who gets to decide what gets saved in its original form and what is discarded? Are people actually accessing original historic newspapers? These are just some of the questions I asked myself as I entered the preservation vs. access debate.  As I first approached the conversation, what I saw was a very black and white issue. I read essays from those that were strictly in favor of preservation, arguing that we have already lost so many valuable historic newspapers therefore making it our duty to preserve those that remain. But then, there is the argument that newspapers take up space and are becoming increasingly inconvenient and expensive to house, making access the most practical solution. One of the reasons this debate is so tricky is that at the heart of the matter is a medium that was never intended for preservation, or access for that matter, in the first place. Publishers in the late 19thand early 20th century certainly didn’t think that librarians in 2013 would be taking efforts to preserve their newspapers; this is evident right down to the medium itself: it tears easily, yellows over time and generally makes for difficulty in preservation.


One of the first questions it is important to pose when discussing this debate is why, with technology available to digitize historical documents, would we want to preserve historic newspapers in the first place? As expressed by my experiences with books, magazines and newspapers, I think there is a certain intrinsic value that can only come from interacting with an original document. An article I read on the subject described it like this: the extrinsic value of a historic document, such as the Declaration of Independence, exists in the information recorded on it; the intrinsic value, however, is the original format independent of the information recorded on it.  Imagine if the Declaration of Independence were somehow damaged or destroyed. The impact would be profound and Americans might feel some sort of personal loss with such destruction. Sure, what is recorded on the Declaration of Independence would never be lost –as it can be found in any history book or through a quick Google search – but the value of the original would be gone forever. I believe the same case can be made for historic newspapers; imagine holding the original paper that contained headlines about the sinking of the Titanic. You could run your fingers over the headline and turn the pages in the very spot where someone in 1912 turned the pages. You can see the pictures and details on the page and could be transported to that day in April of 1912. Does a computer screen provide that?

Having worked in print journalism, I witnessed many news sources switching to an online only format; the reality being that it is possible (though it pains me to say) that future generations will grow up in a world where they’ll have no exposure to printed newspapers. These generations need to know about the advent of the printed newspaper and how this medium swept the nation and created context for the way news is reported today. Shouldn’t we preserve historic newspapers for those generations?

Conversely, while those who are pro-access certainly see the value in historic newspapers, they also see the logistical challenges that preserving newspapers creates: whose responsibility is it to decide what gets saved in original form and who pays the rising costs of doing so? Furthermore, as mentioned above, newspapers pose storage challenges for libraries that, more often than not, have budget and space issues to consider.


I had the opportunity to talk to Kate Leonard, Conservation Supervisor in the Special Collections department at UW Libraries, about this conversation and she brought up a few points that allowed me to look at the debate from a different angle. Kate and I agree on the tactile experience and how it is such a profound part of interacting with a medium, however, she also pointed out this notion of finding historic documents through access that one would otherwise never find. Because some historic newspapers are rare and housed in research libraries across the country, I might not feasibly access an old copy of The Seattle Times in print were it not for digitization. By providing access, we expose individuals to information they may otherwise not have found or may have never even known was out there in the first place.  This aspect of the debate has personally affected me; as I perform my work with NDNP, making OCR corrections here and there on old issues of the 1908 edition of The Seattle Times, I’ve happened across articles about my new surroundings that have provided me with a rich layout of Washington State’s colorful history. I now know about Washington’s road to Statehood in 1889 or the Walla Walla Massacre of 1847 that later led to the Cayuse War between the Cayuse people and local Euro-American settlers. In fact, just the other day my colleague and I were saying that some articles we happen across make us feel like we aren’t so different than the men and women of the early 1900’s. There was an article about Seattle’s terrible traffic, written in The Seattle Time’s 1908 paper, and the last time I checked the traffic in Seattle was still terrible and a topic of constant conversation among residents. Or there are the same sensationalist stories that the media decides is newsworthy enough to devote their attention to over other – often similar – stories; such as the Davis barroom murder trial of 1907, covered extensively in the Wenatchee Daily World.

ReformersDawn_Nov1893Kate also brought to my attention an issue that came up recently in which The Reformer Dawn – the earliest known publication of what eventually became the Ellensburg Dawn, running from November 1893 to January 1894 – posed serious digitization issues. The paper is the size of a pamphlet and has been bound and stitched at the binding to prevent further damage to its already fragile pages and spine. The desire to digitize this paper proved to be dicey, as it would have required unstitching the binding to scan the pages. Thankfully those measures were not taken and Kate and her Special Collections team were able to take digital photos of the paper, which were later uploaded as TIFF files and added to the Chronicling America repository. The Reformer Dawn will also remain as a part of WSL’s permanent digital collection. Because The Reformer Dawn is in danger of being housed in “dark archives” (a dungeon-like place where historic documents go to spend the end of their lives) this is yet another example of access providing individuals a chance to interact with documents they may otherwise never have had the opportunity to do so with.

Given the evidence of both preservation and access providing rich educational experiences for all users, I began to wonder why some present the debate as so black and white. The way I see it, there is so much gray area; a gray area in which we can provide both preservation and access. Some librarians and archivists suggest a model in which responsibility for both original and surrogate documents is distributed among institutions. And isn’t this the very purpose of a library in the first place: to preserve documents that provide the public with lasting value so that future generations can access them, be it in its original or surrogate form?

All of this leads to an increasingly important question: if we know now how much we drastically want to save historic newspapers of the past, what steps are we taking to preserve digital information of the present? After all, building and maintaining a digital repository is a completely different ballgame than preserving old newspaper pages. Each medium has its own benefits and downfalls as it pertains to preservation techniques but, as opposed to newspaper print, building a digital repository is an area of preservation that archivists are still exploring and fine-tuning best practices. Similarly, a digital repository is much different to maintain because digital objects will always need a software environment to render it; newspapers, however, provide unmediated access to content. Important to consider is the way computer systems age much faster than data media; something new is always in the works and we are constantly upgrading.

Today, archivists are implementing a slew of preservation techniques for digital content. In the case of Washington’s involvement with NDNP, we are involved in a work-flow process that takes microfilm to transferable TIFF files and on through a series of processing tasks and quality control checks before we finally send the files, along with the microfilm, to Library of Congress. LOC then uploads these files and now users can access the newspaper pages on Chronicling America. During the processing and quality control checks, we are performing tasks such as text correction, cropping and de-skewing pages and other various measures that will enable the end user to more accurately access pages and read articles. Furthermore, Washington State Library will maintain all of the files we create in their digital collection; making Washington State residents aware of this expanding digital collection is yet another step the library is taking towards providing access.

While I’d certainly never call myself a Luddite, it was a rather big leap to immerse myself in the digitization world. When I approached the project, I wondered if digitizing documents would make originals, at least over time, obsolete; as it turns out, librarians don’t want that at all. They simply want to make access just as important as preservation; they want to provide entry to the all-important grey area: an area where users find both preservation and access. And though I’ll take sipping coffee and dropping muffin crumbs over a daily print newspaper, the efforts LOC and NEH are taking to make historic newspapers available is nothing short of amazing. It is our duty as information professionals to provide access to documents that are rich in value and history, such as newspapers. Just as we take effort today to save papers from the past, so too are we taking efforts to preserve the news we see today on our computer screen, for tomorrow.

Breaking News! New titles for Washington NDNP!

Thursday, March 21st, 2013 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public, State Library Collections | No Comments »

From the desk of Shawn Schollmeyer, NDNP Washington Coordinator

This week the Library of Congress uploaded the next set of our long awaited newspaper titles for the National Digital Newspaper Program. Historic Washington state newspapers can now be searched and viewed on the Chronicling America website.  The added benefit, besides being able to search early newspapers from Washington Territory and early statehood, is each title also includes publication information and a short essay about the paper’s history. Take a scroll through this example from the Aberdeen Herald

aberbeen masthead

Among the titles added this month:

Aberdeen Herald, W.T., 1890-1917                        Adams County News, Ritzville, 1898-1906,

Columbia Courier, Kennewick, 1902-1905                   Kennewick Courier, 1905-1914

Evening Statesman, Walla Walla, 1903-1910               Lynden Tribune, 1908-1922

Newport Miner, 1899-1922                                                Vancouver Independent, 1875-1910

Washington State Journal, Ritzville, 1906-1907        Wenatchee Daily World, 1905-1922

Seattle Star, 1899-02-27 1922-12-30

We are on the third and last grant cycle of this project, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities and Library of Congress.  Approximately two thirds of the states across the country are now participating, contributing over

newspaper trio6 million pages of newspaper content to date. In the west Oregon and California are current participants and over the next few years we should be seeing the contributions of our neighbors, Alaska & Idaho.

Over the next two years we’ll be adding:

Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 1876-1900     

Seattle Star, 1918-1922

Morning Olympian, 1876-1922

These newspapers, all in the public domain (pre-1922), are free for public use. Educators, historians, genealogists, students and other members of the public are welcome to use these images for their primary research, history presentations, and educational tools. We encourage you to share the great history of Washington and learn about the development of civics and industry across the great Pacific Northwest.

To learn more about the NDNP program, popular topics, valuable teaching resources (check out NEH’s EDSITEment! page), podcasts and videos, start with a look at the http://www.loc.gov/ndnp website and click on “NDNP Extras.”

WSL and the “Declaration of Learning”

Friday, February 8th, 2013 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public, State Library Collections, Technology and Resources | No Comments »

Declaration-of-LearningThe Library of Congress, along with 12 other governmental agencies and non-governmental organizations, including the American Library Association and the  Institute of Museum and Library Services, have recently created the Declaration of Learning.  This document “formally announces their partnership as members of the Inter-Agency Collaboration on Education”.  Each organization involved pledges to utilize its historic artifacts and institutional expertise to create interactive digital media, apps, and websites.

In the spirit of this declaration, Washington State Library would like to highlight some of  our digital services and activities that also share this pledge.

Washington Rural Heritage

Washington Rural Heritage is a collection of historic materials documenting the early culture, industry, and community life of Washington State. The collection is an ongoing project of small, rural libraries and partnering cultural institutions, guided by an initiative of the Washington State Library (WSL). The initiative provides the infrastructure and training to both digitize and serve unique collections to a widespread audience.

Classics in Washington History

The State Library is delighted to present Classics in Washington History. This digital collection of full-text books brings together rare, out of print titles for easy access by students, teachers, genealogists and historians. Visit Washington’s early years through the lives of the men and women who lived and worked in Washington Territory and State.

Special Collections of the Washington State Library

 The Special Collections of the Washington State Library collect and preserve rare and archival materials that enrich research in the history and culture of the Pacific Northwest.
The geographical region comprises the states of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho in their entirety; the province of British Columbia; and western portions of the State of Montana.  Alaska and Yukon Territory materials are also acquired selectively when they relate to the Pacific Northwest region.

These non-circulating collections are comprised of historic and unique books, pamphlets, maps and manuscripts that are made available for research in our reading room.

Historical Maps

The State Archives and the State Library hold extensive map collections dealing with the Washington State and the surrounding region. Maps for this digital collection will be drawn from state and territorial government records, historic books, federal documents and the Northwest collection.

Genealogy at the Washington State Library

Washington State Library has Wide array of genealogical resources both online and on site, including biographies, bibliographies, vital recordscemetery inscriptions, City and County histories, directories, Immigration records , military records and more.

Historic Newspapers in Washington

Washington State Library’s newspaper collection includes current issues on paper and historic newspapers on microfilm with some searchable online. We subscribe to about 125 daily and weekly newspapers throughout Washington, plus a few out-of-state papers. The microfilm collection consists of over 40,000 reels of newspapers dating from the 1850s to the present.

Over 5.2 million pages strong… and counting

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public, News, State Library Collections, Technology and Resources | No Comments »

The Torch Bearer at the Library of Congress
Interior of the Library of Congress

From the futuristic desk of Shawn Schollmeyer.

With 100,000 pages contributed each two year grant cycle from over 30 states and reaching for participation by all 50 states, the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP) is the biggest digital newspaper project in U.S. history and sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Library of Congress (LC). Each of those 5.2 million pages need related lines of code and metadata along with the page images.  Title, city, date, as well as Optical Character Recognition (OCR) files that turn an image into machine-readable text, allow users to search newspaper content on the Chronicling America website.

That’s a lot of files! Who manages all these files? Less than a dozen people at Library of Congress support the websites & wikis, upload files, and help project managers learn the NDNP digitization process. Here in Washington State, we rely on this handful of people to guide us on best practices for digitization and image standards for our participation in the program.  In September, all the participating states gathered to meet our sponsors, advisors, and fellow awardees to discuss the great ways people are using the content from this project.  At the end of the three day conference, our heads are filled with practical knowledge of processes, resources, and exciting new ideas. While I was there I had the rare opportunity to meet the magicians behind the curtain…

Our main contact for the National Digital Newspaper Program in Washington, DC is Chris Ehrman. Nearly a librarian by birth (his parents are both librarians), Chris began his newspaper experience in the University of Utah Ski Archives , uploading photos and video of America’ favorite winter sport before moving on to the NDNP program in Montana. There he honed his technical expertise learning the selection and upload process for Montana’s newspaper collection, becoming a great candidate for the Library of Congress’ Digital Conversion Specialist position. Chris is our “go-to” man when we have questions about how to resolve the challenges of working with so many files and metadata. If the data checks out OK, Chris prepares the scripts to load files for the automatic ingestion process so the newspaper images will appear in the Chronicling America database. He also supports the LC’s NDNP website.

There are four Digital Conversion Specialists who evaluate and help load our submitted batches of files to the website. Missing pages, cataloging conflicts, or date misprints are among the situations that may flag a batch for further review.  These four take turns validating batches from all awardees for final approval in addition to their specialized tasks, which include validation tool support and digitizing from LC’s own historic newspaper collection.  Chris estimates that they see 150,000-180,000 pages per month, translating to about six terabytes. One of their biggest challenges is to keep the workflow moving and avoid bottlenecks in the system.

Robin Butterhof is another LC specialist. Friendly & energetic, Robin supports the NDNP wiki page that contains the technical specifications, trainings, tools, deliverables, and state by state project information. She is a woman of many talents, having held several different library jobs, including book publishing, reference librarian, non-profit work and consulting, all while attending classes as a library student. Excellent training for the many tasks she juggles daily at LC.

Chris, Shawn & Robin with “batch_wa_lacamas”
Pulling all the teams, awardees, conversion specialists, NEH contacts, and LC resources together is the NDNP Coordinator, Deborah Thomas. Deb has a long history of working with digital collections in our national library, most notably, the American Memory project, a multimedia collection of American history and culture with over nine million items. In my short interview with the team, she really helped put the national project into context for me. One of the most significant challenges is managing “a sustainable collection of significant scale produced by many organizations” which includes careful planning for maintaining access and managing the data and processes long term. She reminds us that “Digital objects are not just pictures. For newspapers, they are pictures of pages and machine-readable text from those pages and metadata that describes the pages and the relationships between pages.” In order to help people find what they’re looking for we need to figure out “how to make the cream rise to the top.” These millions of pages of newspapers would be pretty overwhelming to wade through without text search capabilities at the page level. Creating standards for metadata and text recognition software (OCR) is only a piece of making these pages accessible. Each state has their own workflow; software vendors; page or article level OCR; file storage systems; and even multiple languages that need to be filtered and standardized.

When I asked the team about what they enjoy most about their work Robin admitted she loves how “something wacky pops up every day” referring to the many series of cartoons, entertaining articles and sometimes sensational headlines. Chris agreed and mentioned his favorites are the illustrations of the future, which led to discussion of Deb’s favorite article from the December 20, 1908, New-York Tribune, “Public Library of the Future.”

Unlike the library vision in the article, we may not be sending facsimiles of our newspapers and important manuscripts through pneumatic tubes to our Congressional Library, but we will be sending a dozen or so hard drives with thousands of files of newspaper pages to real people, the people I met in the James Madison Building. These are the people who will be helping us create the new digital libraries of a very real future where we can still have “a library in every hotel, train, trolley car and steamship!”


How Digitizing is Changing my Life: Ashley Fejeran

Friday, August 10th, 2012 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public | 5 Comments »

Recently I blogged that we had received an extension on our National Endowment for the Humanities grant to allow us an extension of time to continue to digitize Washington historical newspapers. The project is the National Digital Newspaper Program of the Library of Congress (LoC). Washington State Library’s NDNP_AshleyFejeran_08082012contributions appear in Chronicling America.

The project requires collaboration between the Washington State Library and the University of Washington Libraries Microfilm and Newspaper department. At UW we have two students helping us evaluate and process necessary metadata for each page posted to LoC’s public website. In our UW office at Suzzallo Library Britta Anson, a doctoral student of history, is helping us with title research for essays that accompany the newspaper titles and Ashley Fejeran, a second year library and information student, will be helping with page evaluation. Ashley took a break in her busy schedule to write about her experience this summer with the Washington program:

Each day, tucked deep in the cozy basement of Suzzallo Library at the University of Washington, my colleagues and I are working to prepare Washington newspapers from the late 1800′s to 1922 for OCR (optical character recognition) software that will make each paper searchable. I am working with the Washington State Library as a part of the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP); a project that will digitize many historic newspapers across the United States. Now in the fourth year of the program we are deep in the midst of processing important Washington State newspaper titles. Papers like the Industrial Freedom from the tiny town of Edison, the Yakima Herald, and the Aberdeen Herald are already on their way to being published on the Chronicling America Website which holds over four million pages of already processed papers. Our Washington program has already processed over 25 titles, with more to come in the next two years!

While enrolled in the University of Washington’s Master of Library and Information Science program this project has given me invaluable exposure to theBobbyDunbar_TacomaPaper_02231914 principles of digital librarianship and a new perspective on the age old question of preservation versus access. In classes, forums, and over drinks I’ve had countless discussions on the merits of each with my library colleagues, and I’ve seen my own feelings roam the spectrum between these seemingly disparate ideas. It wasn’t until I started work on the National Digital Newspaper Program that I began to see that it is possible to both preserve historically significant artifacts and offer increased access to these interesting and important documents. 

As an aspiring librarian this program has much professional appeal; however, it has become of personal interest to me as well. A few days ago on the radio program This American Life I heard a story about the mysterious disappearance of a little boy named Bobby Dunbar in the summer of 1912. As the story unfolded, the whole nation was captivated by the tragedy of this lost boy and the controversy that ensued with his eventual recovery.

Not long ago (before working on the Washington NDNP project) this story might have just remained an interesting episode of This American Life. Because of the work I’ve been doing on this project, I knew that many of the newspapers from the time of Bobby Dunbar’s disappearance were probably available online. Through Chronicling America I searched for, and found, many articles covering the disappearance of Bobby Dunbar. Reading the story as it was actually reported was fascinating, and brought a new level of depth to what happened for me. These were real people!

TheRanchMasthead_06151909 In other, local, news I’ve been reading about the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition which happened in 1909 on the University of Washington’s campus. The Exposition is considered the precursor to the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. As Seattle paper The Ranch proclaims, “Opening Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition Marks and Era In Progress of the Pacific-Northwest!”

What I do is just one step in a long process; it is exciting that my job is to help make these papers available, so that anyone can read for themselves how an historic story played out. As I fuss with text and image zones, and correct page alignment, not only am I gaining valuable professional experience, I also get to take a look into the daily lives of people living 100 years before me. The discussion of preservation and access will certainly continue, and it is likely that there is no perfect solution, working with Washington’s National Digital Newspaper Program has proved a fascinating look at the possibility for both.

NEH Approves Grant Extension for WSL through 2014

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public | No Comments »

ndnp_banner We are very excited to announce that we will be able to continue our historic newspaper digitization project for an additional two years. The National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP) is a collaborative grant program between the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress, seeking to fund state newspaper digitization projects and make select titles available through the Chronicling America website. The long term goal is to provide access to public domain newspaper titles in all U.S. states and territories (1836-1922). The Washington State Library will coordinate scanning and prepping another 100,000 pages from microfilm for remaining titles in Seattle ShawnSchollmeyer2012and Olympia. A panel of partner libraries across the state has pre-selected over 25 titles representing large and small communities and historically significant regions to share on the Chronicling America site. Among  the titles already available are  the Aberdeen Herald, Colfax Gazette, Lynden Tribune, San Juan Islander, and Tacoma Times. More information about the state program and other titles is available on our WIKI page. 

The microfilm for the three remaining titles is housed in the Washington State Library and University of Washington collections. We will continue our collaboration with the UW Libraries Microfilm and Newspaper department where we have two students helping us evaluate and process necessary metadata for each page posted to the Library of Congress public website.

Shawn Schollmeyer is the project manager for the Washington State Library. Her contact information is Shawn.Schollmeyer@sos.wa.gov, 360-570-5568.

A Newspaper Lost to History?

Thursday, July 26th, 2012 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For the Public, Random News from the Newspapers on Microfilm Collection, State Library Collections, Technology and Resources | No Comments »

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

The editor of the Clarkston Republic appears to be able to barely contain his gloating while reporting on the demise on a rival newspaper. I found this on page one, top of the fold, July 10, 1913:



 Daily Paper Short Lived — Published Only Six Weeks. Cause Unexplained

 “Last Saturday evening the Herald Publishing company suspended publication of the Clarkston (daily) Evening Herald, after a brief career lasting only six weeks. It came as a total surprise to citizens of the city as from appearances and declarations it was to be a very permanent institution.”

 “A strenuous subscription campaign had been carried on by the paper which closed Saturday night. For this they were offering prizes to the several girls who would secure the highest number of paid up subscriptions, the grand prize to be a free trip to Yellowstone Park with all expenses paid for two, while the other prize consisted of three $60 diamond rings and three watches. Subscriptions were taken at $5 per year, and for a shorter or longer time accordingly. The final result as announced was Nellie Bittle, first, Milicent Lahm, second, Allie Malone, third and Miss Jones of Asotin, fourth.”

“Mr. E.D. Griffin, proprietor of the defunct concern positively refuses to make any public statement to the people here and elsewhere who have paid for the paper for various lengths of time, only stating that it is a very unfortunate affair and that it will do no one any good. Other than this he will not say regarding the likelihood of the prize winners receiving their prizes, of what happened to the subscription money or what is to be done about the good United States money that has been paid the concern for advance subscriptions, so that the only particulars that can be given is heresay which are as follows: A Mr. W.F. Heght it seems was managing the subscription campaign for the Herald and had a good deal more to do with the handling of the money than good business management generally allows a stranger, and on Saturday night when the contest closed, instead of a settlement of the affair being effected then it was deferred until Monday morning, before which time it is said that Mr. Heght made a hurried get away, taking with him all the funds that had been collected on advance subscriptions, the amount of which seems to be in doubt. It is also said that a warrant has been issued for his arrest but of this Mr. Griffin will state nothing.”

“Another story is current that the suspension came from a lack of the Chamber of Commerce, of which J.E. Hoobler is president, to make good a promise to secure a certain number of subscriptions, but the Chamber denies ever making any definite promise along this line however.”

“As soon as Mr. P.S. Pease, district salesman for the American Type Founders company heard of the affair he hurried to the city to make an adjustment of affairs concerning the equipment which was secured from his company, and it is likely they will have charge of the disposition of most or all of it.”

“The situation is the main topic of conversation all over the community and it is considered to be of much more discredit to the city than never to have started the institution. Many were dissatisfied with the news service from the first, both local and telegraphic.”

“Many are the reasons thought to be the real cause of the suspension and many are demanding the management make some explanation, but only time will tell what developments will be made in the case. At all events it is a sad affair for it means a loss to some, and from appearances it will be the ones who put up the money for the advance subscription.”

The Clarkston Republic is part of a newspaper lineage that runs something like this: Clarkston Republican / Clarkston Republic / Clarkston Herald / Valley Herald News / Clarkston Herald. WSL has many issues in this run available on microfilm via interlibrary loan.

What really caught my eye in this article was an accompanying crude illustration of three newspaper titles in coffin shaped boxes, stood up on end like the corpses of dead outlaws on display on a dusty storefront in the Old West. The Clarkston Republic’s vanquished competitors run from the obscure to the cryptic.

The Teller was apparently the Lewiston Evening Teller. It ran from 1903 to 1911. Several libraries in Idaho and Utah hold copies.

The Evening Herald apparently lasted only six weeks in 1913. It was edited by Edwin DeWitt Griffin (1873-1949) who later moved to Long Beach, California, continuing to work in the newspaper business. So far as I can ascertain, no copies of this newspaper can be found in any library, either in hardcopy or microform. But at least we know it existed, who published it, where it came from, and how long it lasted.

The most mysterious of all is the Search Light. In searching all the usual places, I can find nothing confirming there was a such a title in the Clarkston-Lewiston area in this time period. Not in OCLC, not in Ayer’s, not in local histories. In fact, this coffin drawing is the only evidence I have proving such a newspaper existed. I don’t even know if it was published in Clarkston or Lewiston. But I’m betting someone out knows all about this title.

If you have any information on, or better yet, actual copies of these two lost newspapers, give us a call here at WSL.

There was one rival the Clarkston Republic was unable to bury: The Lewiston Morning Tribune, still around today and now known simply as the Lewiston Tribune.

Asotin County’s days of yesteryear have been captured by our Washington Rural Heritage Project.