Archives Spotlight: Find your Washington ancestors in the Digital Archives census collection

Archives Spotlight: Find your Washington ancestors in the Digital Archives census collection

The Washington State Archives’ Digital Archives has an extensive collection of census records from across the state, dating back to 1847 — 42 years before Washington became a state. The Digital Archives’ mission is to make public records easily and freely accessible to the people. To date, well over 200 million records have been digitized. Census records are popular among researchers, especially genealogists. If you have ancestors who lived in Washington, there is a good chance you can find them…

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Archives Spotlight: The Stevens Pass Railway Disaster

Archives Spotlight: The Stevens Pass Railway Disaster

Researchers at the State Archives recently came across these photos of the aftermath from the Wellington avalanche, a disaster that struck the Cascade Mountains near Stevens Pass in 1910. The top photo, taken eight months after the tragedy and viewable in full here, shows the devastation on the mountainsides and reconstruction progress on some of the town’s structures. Click to view a larger version of the picture to see a train in motion in the lower right corner. The bottom…

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Archives Spotlight: How influenza blocked Seattle’s shot at a second Stanley Cup

Archives Spotlight: How influenza blocked Seattle’s shot at a second Stanley Cup

Seattle is proudly preparing to field a National Hockey League team starting in 2021, the first major league hockey team to hail from the city in nearly a century. With this news, you may have also heard Seattle was the first American city to take home a Stanley Cup championship when the Metropolitans beat the Montreal Canadiens in the 1917 finals. Did you also know the Mets came within one win of a second Stanley Cup victory? In March 1919,…

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Introducing Library Giving Day

Introducing Library Giving Day

Libraries are all about sharing. Public libraries are based on the idea that one book can be shared with many. This simple notion forms the foundation of a public library’s mission and goals. Modern libraries offer much more than books, but the idea of equal access for all has never changed. In Washington state, we have a strong library system, but not every community has the time or expertise to tackle fundraising. Last year, leaders of the Seattle Public Library…

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Archives Spotlight: The wager that started the Well Fed, Well Read food and book drive

Archives Spotlight: The wager that started the Well Fed, Well Read food and book drive

The Well Fed, Well Read campaign is an annual food and book drive put on by the Combined Fund Drive, Thurston County Food Bank, and South Sound Reading Foundation. It brings in thousands of food items, books, and monetary donations from state agencies across Washington. The drive officially launched 19 years ago, when the food bank and reading foundation took control. According to Thurston County Food Bank Executive Director Robert Coit, its origins are rooted in the early 1990s, when…

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Archives Spotlight: How fire shaped Washington’s city growth

Archives Spotlight: How fire shaped Washington’s city growth

Some of Washington state’s most prosperous cities were, at some time in the past, nearly destroyed by fire. In 1887, a fire reduced half of Walla Walla to ash. In 1889, Seattle, Spokane, and Ellensburg all experienced conflagrations that changed each city’s developmental trajectory. Most of that era’s residential and commercial structures were wood-framed, which even with stone or brick cladding made them vulnerable to fires. Also, nineteenth-century firefighters’ training and equipment were far below modern standards, which made it…

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Check out Washington state parks via a library visit

Check out Washington state parks via a library visit

March 2019 marks the launch of a pilot project called Check Out Washington at four Washington public libraries. With Check Out Washington, library users can check out a backpack kit that includes a Discover Pass for free access to Washington state’s recreational parks and lands for up to a week. The project’s goal is to encourage new users to go outdoors to enjoy the natural and cultural riches of Washington’s public lands. In addition to a Discover Pass, each backpack…

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Archives finds tooth in zoological catalog

Archives finds tooth in zoological catalog

The University of Washington Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture has been collecting zoological specimens for more than 130 years to help document critters from Washington state and around the world. For months, Burke staffers have been preparing for a move into a new building. The Washington State Archives digitized three volumes of Zoological Catalogs dating back to collections from the 1890s to help preserve these unique books. The catalogs include species from land, air, and sea, with scientific…

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Archives Spotlight: The World’s Largest Inaugural Cake

Archives Spotlight: The World’s Largest Inaugural Cake

This 1933 photo features the cake for Washington Governor Clarence Martin’s inauguration to his first term in office. From the Susan Parish Photograph Collection, 1889-1990. Clarence Martin was born and raised in Cheney, where the Eastern Regional Branch Archives and Digital Archives offices are now located. He graduated from the University of Washington in 1906 and joined his father in running the Cheney Grain and Milling Company. From 1928 to 1933 Martin was the mayor of Cheney. While still in…

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Archives Spotlight: The Washington Senate Committee on Public Morals

Archives Spotlight: The Washington Senate Committee on Public Morals

Years ago, the Washington state legislature included a Senate Committee on Public Morals. According to Sine Die: A Guide to the Washington State Legislative Process, the committee lasted from “1909 through 1954,” but there’s evidence it was around in the 1890s. Perhaps there was a hiatus between the 1890s and 1909. It is unclear what the committee met about, since its files were not retained in the State Archives. Do any of you around the Legislature know some of the…

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