One of Dan Evans’ scrapbooks includes this 1972 photo of Evans, then Washington’s governor, meeting with President Nixon (middle) and California Gov. Ronald Reagan (left) prior to a news conference at the White House.
As the official repository for state government records, the Washington State Archives is quite accustomed to receiving valuable documents.
But once in awhile, the State Archives acquires something so rare, so remarkable that even the most grizzled, seen-it-all archivist can’t help but be wowed by its contents.
That was the case last week when the State Archives hit the historic jackpot: 37 scrapbooks belonging to legendary Washington political icon Dan Evans.
The scrapbooks cover Evans’ political career, from his years as a state legislator in the 1950s and early ‘60s to his 12 years as governor from 1965 to 1977, to his five-plus years as a U.S. senator in the 1980s.
A scrapbook includes a late 1960s Tacoma News Tribune story about Evans visiting African-American leaders in Tacoma.
State Archivist Steve Excell, who has known Evans since 1968, says the scrapbooks are like an untapped gold mine for political junkies and historians alike.
“Many important moments occurred and significant milestones were reached during Dan Evans’ years as Washington’s governor, including the creation of the Department of Ecology, building the state’s community college system, addressing urban and civil rights issues, and welcoming Vietnamese refugees. These scrapbooks capture both the significant and everyday events in Dan’s political career. I’ve already looked through several of the scrapbooks, and they are fascinating to see.”
Excell says Archives staff have begun to review, repair and digitize the scrapbooks, a project that might take several months to a year to complete.
“Once the digitizing project is completed, it will be exciting for everyone to have access to the photos, clippings and other interesting items found in the scrapbooks of one of Washington’s most beloved and influential political figures!” Excell said. “This really is a major acquisition for our State Archives and we are excited about it.”
Campaign literature from Evans’ successful gubernatorial race in 1964 when he defeated incumbent Albert Rosellini.