Ancestry Day event draws packed crowds ?>

Ancestry Day event draws packed crowds

Kim with Sons of the Revolution

Secretary Wyman with Sons of the Revolution at Ancestry Day Saturday in Tacoma. (Photos courtesy of Washington State Archives)

It takes a special event to keep sun-craving Northwesterners indoors on a nice September weekend, but that was the case Saturday as hundreds packed themselves into a large meeting room at the Greater Tacoma Convention & Trade Center for Ancestry Day.

The event was co-hosted by Ancestry, the Washington State Historical Society, and the Office of Secretary of State’s Washington State Archives,
Washington State Library and Legacy Washington.

Steve at Ancestry Day

State Archivist Steve Excell addresses the audience during a panel discussion on family history holdings at the State Archives.

Over 700 attendees were treated to workshops, panel discussions and presentations by Ancestry’s genealogy experts and others on Saturday. Secretary of State Kim Wyman gave the welcome address Saturday morning. Wyman noted that her ancestor Nathaniel Dobbs served in the Revolutionary War and was present at the surrender of Lord Corwallis after the Battle of Yorktown.

On Friday, about 250 people came to the State Historical Museum in Tacoma for genealogy-related presentations, including one by the State Archives’ Tracy Rebstock on where to look for information (other than birth/marriage/death records) about someone’s family history. The State Library’s Kathryn Devine later discussed how to use old newspapers to find information about one’s ancestors.

Ancestry Day crowd

The audience listens to a genealogy presentation Friday.

Facebook helps spread the word: Register to vote! ?>

Facebook helps spread the word: Register to vote!

Phone with facebook app running

Facebook has launched an internet drive to prompt people to register to vote, including many in Washington.

From Friday through Monday, Sept. 26, people on Facebook who are 18 and older will get a reminder at the top of their news feed urging them to get registered to vote – or if they already are registered, to remind their FB friends to do so.

Secretary of State  Kim Wyman, the state’s chief elections official, said Washington could set a single-day registration record. The previous spike, also prompted by Facebook, was 13,109 on March 18. The previous high-water mark was 12,655 on Oct. 8, 2012, ahead of that year’s registration deadline.

This year’s deadline for online and mail registration is Oct. 10.

Wyman noted we’ve been celebrating September as National Voter Registration Month and this coming Tuesday is National Voter Registration Day, and added:

“We are delighted to partner with Facebook and welcome every single eligible person to sign up.”

State Elections Director Lori Augino said social media are a powerful way to reach potential voters, including millennials. She also noted that the state is sending out postcards to 140,000 Washington residents who appear to be eligible, inviting them to go online and register.

Ballots went out to about 72,000 military and overseas voters this week, and can be cast right away. Ballots for the rest of the 4.1 million voters go out by Oct. 21 and are due back by drop box by 8 p.m. Nov. 8, or by mail with a postmark of Nov. 8.

WA Elections Division reaching out to 140k potential voters ?>

WA Elections Division reaching out to 140k potential voters

Washington’s state Elections Division is sending out postcards to 140,000 state residents who appear eligible to vote, but haven’t yet registered.

Many of the cards will go to new 18 year olds and to millennials between 19 and 35. The mailings will have a catchy, humorous graphic and information on how to quickly register online by Oct. 10. About 21,000 will go to 18 year olds and 72,000 to those 19-35.

Eligible but unregistered 18 year olds will receive this postcard:

18-yr-old postcard

Half of eligible but unregistered 19-35 year olds will receive this postcard:

19-35 postcard

Half of 19-35 year olds and all 36 and over will receive this postcard:

19-35&36-yr-old postcard

The Elections Division is working with researchers from Pew Charitable Trusts and will analyze the response to see which design has the higher registration rate to help improve future outreach materials.

Each postcard notes that the recipients aren’t on the voter rolls and that they are invited to register online or by mail by Oct. 10 in order to take part in the General Election. First-time Washington voters may also register in person at their county elections office by Oct. 31.

Washington residents are eligible if they are at least 18, a U.S. citizen and not under custody of the Department of Corrections. (more…)

CFD Masquerade Ball Charity Gala at Capitol Oct. 22 ?>

CFD Masquerade Ball Charity Gala at Capitol Oct. 22


Secretary Wyman and others at the 2015 CFD Masquerade Ball. (Photo courtesy CFD)

If you like dressing in gala gowns and tuxedos, wearing masks reminiscent of medieval masquerade balls, dancing the night away in the Washington’s Capitol Building, casino game time, art exhibits, silent auctions and beer and wine, then you definitely want to be at the 5th Annual Combined Fund Drive Masquerade Ball Charity Gala.

The Washington State Combined Fund Drive (CFD) is hosting its annual event in Olympia Saturday, Oct. 22, from 7 to 11 p.m.

“The CFD Masquerade Ball has it all,” says Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman. “Who doesn’t want to dance the night away in the State Capitol? Every floor in the building will have exhibits and entertainment. Hors d’oeuvres are being served by top chefs in our state. It’s truly a very fun event, and the best thing about it is that all proceeds go to charities.”

The CFD is Washington state employees’ charitable giving program and benefits more than 2,900 charities not only on the local level, but also statewide, nationally and globally. Employees, both active and retired, may choose to donate to their designated charities through payroll deduction, either as a one-time gift or on a monthly basis.

“The CFD charitable giving program in Washington is one of the best in the country,” Wyman said. Since 1984, more than $110 million has been raised for charities through the CFD.

“This will be a night to remember,” Wyman added. “Each year our event grows in attendance and activities. This is shaping up to be the best one yet.”

The program is partnering with volunteers in Spokane to bring the ball to the eastern side of the state. The inaugural Spokane Masquerade Ball Charity Gala is Saturday, Oct. 29, from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Lincoln Center in Spokane.

Both events are open to the public and tickets are $50 per person or $75 per couple in advance. If purchasing at the door, tickets are $65 per person.

For more information and to purchase tickets, go here.

WA gets high marks for election info accessibility ?>

WA gets high marks for election info accessibility

BallotPedia imageBallotpedia, the nonpartisan online info source for politics and elections, has ranked Washington as the most improved state for accessibility of its Elections Division and voter and candidate information.

Washington rose from 22nd in 2014 to third in the group’s 2016 ranking of the 50 states.  Washington got high marks for ease of online access, quality of information on the website,, and response time.

Secretary of State Kim Wyman, the state’s chief elections official, said:

“We are delighted to receive this recognition for our continuing commitment to making election information high-quality, useful and easily accessible to our candidates and voters.

“As an example, we worked with the disability community to make our main voter registration and information tool, MyVote, more accessible. We have been gratified by the positive feedback and appreciation from the disability community. Truly, everyone’s voice matters.”

WA General Election voting kicks off this week ?>

WA General Election voting kicks off this week


Washington’s General Election voting season gets under way in just a few days, with counties sending ballots to over 72,000 military and overseas voters around the globe.

Federal law provides extra transit time for military and overseas voters, with counties required to send out ballots 45 days before Election Day. This year, that’s Saturday, Sept. 24. A number of soldiers and others have also requested electronic versions. Still others use federal write-in ballots via the Federal Voting Assistance Program at

This year, about 49,500 of the early ballots are going out to military voters and about 22,600 to Washington voters living abroad, many on business or for missionary or Peace Corps service. The ballots can be voted right away. (Some of the FVAP ballots have already been voted and returned to counties.)

The rest of Washington’s 4.1 million voters will be mailed ballots in roughly four weeks. Many counties will begin to send out ballot packets on Oct. 19; Oct. 21 is the deadline to do so. To count, ballots must be returned by Nov. 8, either via free drop box or by mail with a postmark no later than Nov. 8.

Online and mail-in voter registration and updates will be accepted through Oct. 10.  In-person new registrations are welcome through Oct. 31.

Secretary of State Kim Wyman, the state’s chief elections officer, said Washington always makes it a special point to give military and overseas voters great service. She said living abroad as a military wife gave her a first-hand experience that has stuck with her for her whole elections career: The California ballots for her and her Army Ranger husband John once arrived the day AFTER the election.

Wyman and state Elections Director Lori Augino have worked closely with the Federal Voting Assistance Program, Council of State Governments, Election Assistance Commission and other national groups on registration and voter services on the Washington military bases and abroad.

Says Augino:

“Washington has the third largest number of military and overseas voters in the country, so it’s a huge priority for us. We put out the red carpet.”


OSOS front lobby then and now ?>

OSOS front lobby then and now


(Photo courtesy of Washington State Archives)

We have good reason to think that our office’s front lobby is the best one in the Legislative Building. After all, our lobby’s walls typically are adorned with panels from an eye-catching historical exhibit created by our Legacy Washington team.

But our front lobby wasn’t always so visitor friendly.

The photo above was taken from the back our office, looking toward the front door. According to a co-worker with extensive knowledge of the Legislative Building’s history, the photo was taken in 1974 in preparation for the earthquake proofing project that included the addition of reinforced sheer walls throughout the building. It also resulted in a greatly reduced opening between the lobby and our back work area.

Our co-worker, who visited the office as a teen around 1980, recalls how it looked back then: “I distinctly remember light sea foam green walls, old furniture and brown file cabinets, and almost everyone had a cigarette or ash tray at their desk. The light bulbs were various shades of blue and pink and buzzed all the time.”

How times have changed.

OSOS lobby photo

It’s Constitution Day! ?>

It’s Constitution Day!

1889 Constitution

(Photos courtesy of Washington State Archives)

We bet most of you didn’t even know it existed.

After all, it doesn’t receive nearly as much attention as Independence Day. There aren’t any retail sales that capitalize on it. Since it occurs when fall is knocking on the door, it doesn’t entice us to eat outside.

But Sept. 17 is a very important date in American history. It’s the date when the United States Constitution was signed by 39 delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787.

Go here to learn more about the U.S. Constitution, including a closer look at the delegates and the issues involved in creating and ratifying the Constitution and the new government it established.

Here in Washington, our state constitution is kept safe in our State Archives. The photo above shows the preamble to our state constitution. The photo below features James Hungate signing the Washington State Constitution in April 1931 as Secretary of State J. Grant Hinkle and Hungate’s wife watch. Hungate was a delegate to the 1889 Constitutional Convention in Olympia, but he had to leave the convention and head home to Whitman County before the constitution was ready for his signature. Hungate’s signing 42 years later was authorized by a resolution of the State and House of Representatives. Better late than never.


State Library kicks off Letters About Literature, Zine contests ?>

State Library kicks off Letters About Literature, Zine contests

Letters About Lit image

The State Library just launched not one but two contests for Washington students. One is a perennial favorite and the other capitalizes on an alternative art form that allows for self-expression.

For the 12th straight year, the State Library is co-sponsoring the Letters About Literature contest as part of Washington Reads. The competition encourages students to write letters to their favorite authors, living or dead, about how their book changed the student’s view of the world or himself or herself. The contest, co-sponsored by the Washington State Library, is for schoolchildren and homeschooled students in grades 4-12.

“This is a great contest for kids and teens because they get to express how a favorite book inspired them or made them think in different ways,” said Secretary of State Kim Wyman. “I’m amazed by the many incredible, heartwarming letters that students submit each year, and I look forward to more of their great writing.”

Students can start sending in entries on Nov. 2. There are two deadlines for this year’s contest: Level 3 entries must be postmarked by Dec. 2. Entries for Levels 1 and 2 must be postmarked by Jan. 9, 2017.

Here is more information about the Letters About Literature contest, including how to enter.

While LAL is a well-established contest, the Historical Zine Contest is in its second year. You might be wondering, “What is a Zine?” Zines (rhymes with beans) are basically self-published magazines that give the creator’s point of view on a subject. Contest participants are asked to create a Zine about some aspect of Washington history.

The State Archives and Timberland Regional Library are co-sponsors. This contest is open to Washington residents from fourth grade up. Yes, adults can enter, too! Entry deadline is Dec. 15. Go here to see the entry form.

You can learn more about the contest here.

Want to know where you can find materials for your Historical Zine Contest creation? Check out the Washington State Digital Collections history resources, or visit the State Library, State Archives or Timberland Regional Library to find what you’re seeking.

Don’t know how to make a Zine? Watch this video. It shows you one of the many ways to make one.