WA Secretary of State Blogs

Preserving the History and Culture of Washington State

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

From the desk of Brian Frisina

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you Washington State Library.

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

What would you do on a rainy day?

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014 Posted in Articles, For the Public | No Comments »

From the desk of State Librarian Rand Simmons

Graphic from the National Weather Service Graphic from the National Weather Service

It isn’t unusual to have rain, even constant rain, in Western Washington this time of year. But the current predictions are a bit more extreme. We are expecting one to three inches of rain in South Puget Sound area and Mason County may have flooding. So, I pondered this morning as I drove in to work, what I would do if I had the time off on a rainy day. I posed the same question to my staff and here are some of their answers in the order received:

  1. Read the entire “F” volume of the World Book Encyclopedia cover to cover. [Me: seriously?]
  2. Re-read some historical fiction, such as My Antonia, by Willa Cather or Scott Odell’s Sara Bishop, from my early teen reading classes.
  3. Read Birds of Prey by Wilbur Smith. It will get you through any rainy day.
  4. Curl up with a good book or someone who has read one!

Did I mention all these people work in a library?

  1. Read your favorite books from childhood! Matilda by Roald Dahl and a cup of hot chocolate makes any rainy day cozy.
  2. The adventures of Sherlock Holmes. They never get old.
  3. I always snuggle up with a Nancy Drew Mystery.
  4. One of my rainy day favorites: Ella Fitzgerald and The Inkspots – “Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall”.

Now we’re groovin’.

  1. Light a fire in the fireplace, bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies and have a family read aloud.
  2. Heat milk, add Nestlé’s syrup, find your miniature marshmallows; have yourself a cup of hot chocolate while curled up in your most comfy chair reading a favorite quick read and escapist adventure, The Chronicles of Narnia.

Food and reading, always a good choice, but remember to wash your hands before you turn pages.

I’ll be back tomorrow with some other staff ideas. In the meantime, tell me, what would you do on a rainy day?

My most unforgettable person, Lillian Walker

Monday, February 3rd, 2014 Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public | No Comments »

We begin our celebration of Black History month with this reminiscence of an unforgettable person. John Hughes is the Chief Oral Historian for the Legacy Project, Office of the Secretary of State. 

From the desk of John Hughes, Historian.

In my half century as a journalist and historian, I’ve interviewed three U.S. presidents, governors and senators galore, movie stars and members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But the most unforgettable person I’ve ever met was a tiny, self-effacing 95-year-old African American lady from Bremerton. When Martin Luther King Jr. was still in junior high, Lillian Walker was staging sit-ins and protest marches in Kitsap County and lobbying legislators in Olympia for fair housing laws, yet few outside Kitsap County knew her story.


Lillian Walker (1913-2012), Bremerton, 1944. Courtesy Legacy Project, Washington Secretary of State.

Lillian Walker and her husband James arrived in Washington State from Illinois in the spring of 1941. They quickly landed jobs at the booming Bremerton naval shipyard. With Europe in Fascist flames, FDR had vowed that America would be “the great arsenal of democracy.”

Before the war, only about 100 blacks lived in Bremerton. By 1944, there were 4,600. The newcomers had come from all over America, especially the South and the industrial cities of the North, happy to have jobs and expecting to leave Jim Crow behind. Many racists made the same trip, however, joining earlier transplants and home-grown bigots. Bremerton-area cafes, taverns, drug stores and barber shops displayed signs saying, “We Cater to White Trade Only.”

Mrs. Walker became the recording secretary for the Puget Sound Civic Society, a civil rights coalition, and helped found the Bremerton branch of the NAACP. She was 31 years old and flabbergasted that prejudice was so prevalent in a place where the air was clean and “everything was green.” She always said, “Well, you’re either with me or against me. And if you’re against me, that means we’re going to have to fight!” She went on to become state secretary of the NAACP. The Walkers were active in the push for a Fair Employment Practices Act, which was enacted by the Legislature in 1949. The Walkers, the NAACP and Church Women United scored a major legal victory in 1954 after a Bremerton drug store owner refused to let James Walker buy a cup of coffee at his soda fountain.

Helping to found the YWCA of Kitsap County was one of Mrs. Walker’s proudest achievements. She also became chairman of the Regional Library Board. In 1997, Kitsap County’s Martin Luther King Memorial Scholarship Fund Committee named the Walkers “MLK Citizens of the Century” for producing a total of 100 years of service to the community and the nation. James Walker said he was surprised because he didn’t think the work they’d been doing “was such a big deal.” Lillian added, “We knew we had a lot of friends, but getting this award for doing what we thought was right … well, I feel really honored.”

James Walker died at 89 in 2000. They were married for 59 years. Lillian carried on. She was “deeply humbled” by all the awards she received as she marched toward 100, quipping that she had just “out-lived” most everyone else in the running. The PTA gave her its Golden Acorn. The YWCA gave her its Founder’s Award and the Democrats presented her their Lifetime Achievement award. The NAACP called her “a living treasure.” She was particularly proud of the 2009 Liberty Bell Award from the Kitsap County Bar Association. Her friend Robin Hunt, a judge on the Washington Court of Appeals, nominated her, saying that Mrs. Walker had “contributed in countless ways to the effective functioning of our government and promoted better understanding of our Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the rule of law. Her courageous persistence to insist on equal rights has brought about change in our community. … She is the living embodiment of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and Martin Luther King’s dream. And she has accomplished these goals without rancor, but rather with an attitude that others simply needed to be ‘educated.’ ”

Mrs. Walker died at 98 in January 2012. She had seen her life story become one of the most-read books produced by the Secretary of State’s Legacy Project.

Here’s the link:



Supporting Teacher-Librarians

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014 Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public | No Comments »

Upon recommendation of Washington State Librarian Rand Simmons, the Office of the Secretary of State supported Senate Bill No. (SB) 6105 at a recent hearing. The bill addresses teacher-librarians and the provision of resources and materials for the operation of school library information and technology programs. It changes the name of “school-library media programs” to the “school library information and technology programs” thus updating the criteria for school library programs bringing them into Craig Seasholes, Teacher Librarianthe 21st Century!

Katie Blinn, Deputy Policy Director for the Office of the Secretary of State, said, “The bill reinforces the idea of libraries providing technology, not just books.” Certainly school libraries have been battered by the budget woes of the past few years. “Too often, it seems, cutting the school library is an easy budget reduction,” said State Librarian Rand Simmons. “But, I believe that teacher-librarians are integral to the education of students and this bill clarifies their role.”

The bill is a request of the Washington Library Media Association (WLMA). Sharyn Merrigan, the teacher-librarian at Marshall Middle School in Olympia and President-Elect of WLMA noted in her testimony before Committee on Early Learning & K-12 Education

“Teacher-librarians play a central role in their schools and in the education of students. At WLMA, we have identified the three main responsibilities of the 21st century teacher-librarian. Those responsibilities are:
• Support for information and technology literacy instruction
• Reading advocacy for lifelong learning and enrichment
• Equitable access to information resources and services
As an organization, we have adopted a framework for these three responsibilities, which can be summed up as Library, Information, and Technology, or LIT . . .”

WLMA’s legislative liaison, Sara Glass, teacher-librarian at Tumwater’s Peter G. Schmidt Elementary School supported the new language in SB 6105, by stating, “teacher-librarian in the school library information and technology program … describes how we provide both the vision and the leadership for emerging technologies that can transform student learning and the classroom curriculum.”

By the way, have you noticed the term “school librarian” hasn’t been mentioned? For at least a decade school librarians have adopted the term teacher-librarian because it both clarifies they are certified professional teachers and points to their focus on teaching.

The bill is supported by the Washington Education Association (WEA). Chief Lobbyist Lucinda Young says WEA will introduce a bill that “. . . would provide the funding for school districts to hire enough teacher-librarians for all our schools and return para-educators to full employment.”

SB 6105 was heard in committee of January 22, voted out of committee on January 24, and passed to Rules Committee on January 27. The next step will be a vote of the Senate. WLMA leaders are optimistic that the bill will receive favorable treatment in the House.

Public librarians and teacher-librarians met with legislators on Friday, January 24. The buzz over the reception of legislators to SB 6105 was both electrifying and gratifying.

Protection Island

Thursday, November 14th, 2013 Posted in Articles, For the Public, Random News from the Newspapers on Microfilm Collection, State Library Collections | 2 Comments »


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

Some people just don’t know their boundaries. This Seattle Daily Times article from April 9, 1908 actually describes two problematic boundary issues in the Strait of Juan de Fuca:


Judge Albertson of Seattle Hears Rival Claims of Jefferson and Clallam Counties at Port Townsend.

Will Require Some Time to Decide Puzzling Question–Bit of Water in Straits Said to Belong to No One.

The Times Special Service.

PORT TOWNSEND, Thursday, April 9.–The hearing of the case involving which of the two counties, Jefferson or Clallam, is entitled to collect the taxes from the owners of Protection Island, which has been occupying the attention of the superior court here for the past week, with Superior Judge Albertson, of King County, sitting instead of Judge Still, came to a close yesterday afternoon after the introduction of an endless amount of testimony, ranging in scope and description from a single sheet of certified tax receipts to the professional opinions of civil engineers, as well as master mariners long operating in the waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.”port townsend

“According to prevailing opinion, the whole discussion hinges on the construction Judge Albertson will be called upon to place on the legislative enactment defining the boundaries between Jefferson and Clallam Counties, as to whether the use of the term ‘north’ in the paragraph means true or magnetic north. There is a material difference between the two.”

Case Under Advisement.

“Before terminating the hearing, Judge Albertson announced that he would take the matter under advisement owing to the fact that so many cited authorities had been introduced into the taking of the evidence and that it might be some time before he was prepared to announce his findings.”

“The precipitation of the present litigation recalls the fact that county boundaries are not the only ones over which some question might be raised in Washington. By a coincidence there is a point in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, not too distant from the little speck of dry land now in dispute, that neither Uncle Sam nor John Bull have any jurisdiction over.”

“This fact was brought out some years ago when the steamship Rosalie, with Capt. Charles W. Ames in command, was operating on the Sound-Victoria route. Coming over from Victoria one day, Capt. Ames had occasion to reprove one of the men aboard the boat for his actions, and the fellow, who was a much smaller man than the herculean master, believing that he was about to suffer bodily injury, drew a revolver and shot Capt. Ames through the shoulder. Fortunately, the bullet was only a flesh wound.”

“The man was arrested here on a charge of murderous assault, but was later discharged upon hearing for lack of jurisdiction. His attorney, after demonstrating the speed of the vessel, the time she had run and the distance covered, showed conclusively that the offense had not been committed in American waters. A similar complaint was accordingly filed in Victoria, and at the hearing the same procedure was followed in the investigation.”

No Punishment for Crime.

“At this hearing the exact designated international boundary line between the two countries was brought out from the government charts, and then the attorney for the defense sprang a great surprise by claiming that the offense, as alleged in the complaint, had not been committed within the jurisdiction of the British courts. Expert testimony, which was taken at length, finally proved beyond question that this contention was well founded, and the prisoner was discharged.”

“The only deduction to be drawn is that at some points in the Strait of Juan de Fuca there is a narrow strip of water, but in ‘no man’s land,’ and where almost any crime, even up to a capital offense, can be committed without fear of retribution at the hands of the court.”

“It is a very fortunate thing, be it said, that this strip of no country’s high seas is very narrow in width and short in length and could be located by no one but a man versed in the art of navigation. Few of these, in fact, know anything about the boundaries of the unusual strip of salt water, and it is said that Puget Sound mariners who know exactly where it is located, always ease her off half a point while crossing the Strait to avoid the place in which it has been legally proven is entirely without the pale of the law of any country.”

Protection Island was eventually award to Jefferson County. The problem might have started back in 1854, when Clallam County was carved out of Jefferson. There was an odd border arrangement just south of Protection Island. James G. McCurdy in By Juan de Fuca’s Strait (1937) explains:



“Living in that district was a family with a very sinister reputation. Even murder had been laid at its door. The people of Jefferson said very emphatically: ‘We don’t want that family of killers in our county– let Clallam have them.’ So the lines were run to eliminate the undesirables from the county in which they had so long been residents. At the time of the division, the population of Jefferson County was but 189 persons.”

The shooting of the Captain known as “Big Ames” aboard the Rosalie must have taken place between 1894-1897, when he was the skipper of that steamer. A couple months after the above 1908 article the International Boundary Commission was formed to finalize some of the irregularities of the Canada-U.S. border. Presumably if such a no-man’s strip of water really existed in Juan de Fuca as described in the Rosalie case, this Commission would have addressed that.

Staff Spotlight: Pam Bell

Thursday, October 24th, 2013 Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public | 3 Comments »

Although she describes herself as a “blue jeans kind of girl,” few people know that Pam Bell is also a royal personage.

Pam Bell 061213Tucked away in WSL Technical Services, Pam has a long history with the Washington State Library. In the 1980s she did the first inputting for that late great bibliographic utility, WLN. WLN was a “bibliographic utility” — think service organization to libraries in the Pacific Northwest – conceived by and born from the Washington State Library. 

Pam made her way to ILL, Acquisitions, Processing, and now Cataloging. Her specialty is government publications, where her duties include close copy cataloging. Pam has excelled at rolling with the changes in the ever-changing world of Technical Services in the wake of staff turnover and budget cuts.

A native of Lewis County, Pam loves outdoor life and organizing social events. She also enjoys collecting Popeye memorabilia and lives by his credo, “I yam what I yam and that’s all what I yam,” and terrifying the State Librarian with wacky ideas.

 Oh, back to the royalty thing. Pam was the Prairie Days Princess in Yelm AND the Rodeo Princess in Rainier.

Thanks, Pammer. You are vital to helping us make federal publications available to the people of this state.

Washington State Library a leader in Early Learning

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013 Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Library 21 Initiative, Uncategorized | No Comments »

Growing Young Minds IMLSWashington State is listed as one of 10 success stories by the Institute of Museum and Library Services in their 2013 report on early learning, Growing Young Minds: How Museums and Libraries Create Lifelong Learners.

“By proactively responding to new initiatives and policy actions, libraries across Washington have secured their position as key players in statewide early learning efforts,” the report states. It cites several activities in which the Washington State Library has been instrumental: the Washington Early Learning Initiative (2000-2003), the establishment of the Early Learning Public Library Partnership (ELPLP), and a partnership between the University of Washington Information School, the ELPLP, the Foundation for Early Learning and the State Library focusing on research-based evidence of the effectiveness of public library programming on early learning and early literacy.

The report is available online in PDF format.

Limited print copies of the report and the executive summary are available from Leanna Hammond, Washington State Library, leanna.hammond@sos.wa.gov, 360-704-7133.

To learn more about the State Library’s involvement in early learning contact Martha Shinners, martha.shinners@sos.wa.gov, 360-570-5567.

Profiles of Washington Territorial Librarians – Walter Newlin and James Ferry

Thursday, October 17th, 2013 Posted in Articles, For the Public, State Library Collections, WSL 160 | No Comments »

Newlin CatalogueWalter W. Newlin, 1879-1880

Born in Pennsylvania ca. 1841, Walter W. Newlin was living and working in Olympia as early as 1870 as a lawyer. Appointed Territorial Librarian in Aug. 1879 by Gov. Ferry, his tenure was brief but eventful. With Newlin, we see the first glimmer of the kind of librarian we recognize in modern times. His Oct. 1, 1879 report laments the lack of a catalog and the poor facilities. He brought in new shelving since books were stacked out in the halls. Walter solicited donations from members of the legal community and government agencies in an effort to upgrade the collection. He also published a bound catalog of the Library’s holdings in 1880, with this preface:

“TO THE PROFESSION:–Having no reliable data to go upon, the Librarian found great difficulty in distinguishing missing books from those which were never in the library, and marked as missing those where doubt existed. Those having missing books in their possession are earnestly requested to return the same, and information regarding any of them will be thankfully received.”

Newlin 1

By May 1880 he had been selected as the Register of the Land Office in Vancouver. His subsequent career took him to Walla Walla and King County. He was elected Prosecuting Attorney for King, Snohomish and Kitsap counties in 1888. He was accused of dismissing serious gambling indictments against brothers Frank and Charles Clancy during September of 1889, but was exonerated by a committee of the Washington State Bar Association. Walter Newlin died Nov. 28, 1889 while visiting his mother in Denver, Colorado.

James Peyre Ferry, 1880-1881

The son of Gov. Ferry, born Apr. 26, 1853 in Illinois, was no stranger to Olympia politics. Although it might be tempting to say his appointment to fill out the term of Newlin was the result of nepotism, he took the oath of office on May 19, 1880, which means he was probably named by the incoming Governor, William A. Newell. Ferry worked in the newspaper trade as a printer and compositor. He never married and always lived with family members. He died Nov. 23, 1914 in Seattle.

160 Years of Service to the People of Washington

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013 Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, WSL 160 | No Comments »


From the desk of Kim Wyman, Secretary of State.

From its beginnings as the Washington Territorial Library in 1853, the Washington State Library has played a major role preserving and providing public access to books, maps, collections, documents and other vital information about Washington’s history and government.

For the past 160 years, the State Library has lived up to its mission and purpose, which is to “collect, preserve and make accessible to Washingtonians materials on the government, history, culture, and natural resources of the state.” In addition, the State Library has led the way in coordinating services and helping secure federal or private funding to benefit other libraries throughout Washington. Literally, the benefits of your Washington State Library are felt throughout the state, and on the Internet!

Back in the 1850s, Congress understood the importance of having a library for the Washington Territory. In fact, when Congress in 1853 passed the Organic Act, creating the Washington Territory, it included a section specifically creating a territorial library:

SEC. 17. And be it further enacted, That the sum of five thousand dollars be, and the same is hereby, appropriated out of any moneys in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, to be expended, by and under the direction of the Governor of Washington, in the purchase of a library, to be kept at the seat of government for the use of the Governor, legislative assembly, Judges of the Supreme Court, secretary, marshal, and Attorney of said Territory, and such other persons, and under such regulations, as shall be prescribed by law.

Congress had the wisdom to provide ample funding for the new library. And Isaac Stevens, Washington’s first Territorial Governor, used that money well, buying books, maps, globes and other items. The $5,000 appropriation back then would amount to more than $135,000 today! That appropriation was a key component in making the Territorial Library a worthy and valuable institution to serve Washingtonians for generations to come.

After Stevens made the initial purchases, he had the 1,850 books placed on the Invincible that left New York and sailed around the tip of South America before stopping in San Francisco. When the Tarquina, the vessel carrying the books and other items from California, finally reached Olympia, it meant more than the arrival of some books. It marked the arrival of Washington’s oldest cultural institution, one that still plays an important role today.

As Washington’s Secretary of State, I’m proud that our State Library is a central part of our office. I applaud State Librarian Rand Simmons and all of the State Library staff and volunteers for their tremendous work on behalf of the people of Washington.

Congratulations to the Washington State Library on this special anniversary. Here’s to many more years of service!

Kim Wyman

The One Minute Jail Sentence

Friday, October 11th, 2013 Posted in Articles, For the Public, Random News from the Newspapers on Microfilm Collection, State Library Collections | 2 Comments »


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

The following news article describes what was most probably the shortest jail sentence in Washington State history. This is from the Seattle Daily Times, January 20, 1906:





“Joe Munch yesterday received from Judge Frater what was probably the lightest sentence ever given a prisoner, that of one minute in the county jail. Those who heard the decision were inclined to take it as a joke of the judge’s, until Munch was hustled off to jail and kept there until the second hand of the jailer’s watch had completed the circle of sixty seconds. Munch was so surprised that he hardly knew what was going on and when released decided that the best thing for him to do was to get away for fear the sight of him should cause the judge to inflict a heavier penalty.”

“Munch is a soldier, on leave of absence. On the thirteenth day of August he found garrison life dull and proceeded to get drunk. A policeman found him in this condition and he was hustled off to the police station. In Judge Gordon’s court he was sentenced to thirty days for being drunk and disorderly, but his case was taken to the higher court.”


Judge Archibald Frater

“Judge Frater decided that while the soldier’s crime was not enough to merit punishment, for the looks of things he ought to be sent to jail, and have a lesson taught him. Consequently Munch was sentenced to an imprisonment of one minute, something which the clerk who makes out the sentence documents never heard of before and which caused much merriment in court house circles.”

Judge Archibald Wanless Frater was hardly a flippant character. He was born in Belmont County, Ohio in 1856 and attended college with Warren G. Harding, who became his lifelong friend. Frater migrated to Tacoma in 1888 and after a short time moved to Snohomish. While there he was elected to the House in 1890 and served as a Republican representing the 44th District for one term.

Frater moved to Seattle in 1898 and was elected King County Superior Court Judge in 1904. The Judge was instrumental in organizing the county’s juvenile justice system. He served in office up to his death on Christmas, 1925.

And what of Munch? He didn’t get to enjoy his freedom for too long. In August 1906 after leaving Fort Lawton he was aboard the transport ship Buford and was shot by a sergeant in self-defense when Munch became unruly and assaulted him. Maybe he needed to have been incarcerated for a few minutes more.


The Buford, AKA The Soviet Ark

A bit of Buford trivia: This ship later became known as the “Soviet Ark” during the post-World War I Red Scare as the United States deported “undesirables” such as Emma Goldman out of the country. Later Buster Keaton used the ship as the main set for his 1924 film, The Navigator.