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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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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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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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Archives spotlight: Notorious Spokane criminal shot dead in 1918 at state penitentiary

Archives spotlight: Notorious Spokane criminal shot dead in 1918 at state penitentiary

Gunshots rang through downtown Spokane in a firefight between Fred “Tiger” Johnson and the police as Johnson attempted to flee across Northern Pacific and Great Northern Railway yards. After he robbed a streetcar, he attempted to avoid arrest but was outgunned by law enforcement. Tiger was shot twice, then booked by the Sheriff’s Office on charges of assault with a deadly weapon, highway robbery, and first-degree assault. This punched Tiger’s (sometimes known as Louis Coynt) ticket to the Walla Walla…

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Archives spotlight: Dan Evans’ keynote speech at the 1968 Republican National Convention

Archives spotlight: Dan Evans’ keynote speech at the 1968 Republican National Convention

Borrowing from the title of Legacy Washington’s current exhibit, 1968 was “the year that rocked Washington.” From the civil rights movement to Vietnam and to growing concerns about the environment, it was a turbulent era in our history. With a passion for these issues and many more, Dan Evans went to Miami in August 1968 to deliver the keynote address of the Republican National Convention, at which Richard Nixon accepted the party’s nomination for president. Evans, who was in his…

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