Browsed by
Tag: Washington State Archives

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.

Want to dig into your family roots? Go to Ancestry Day Sept. 24 ?>

Want to dig into your family roots? Go to Ancestry Day Sept. 24

Ancestry Day Logo

Interested in learning more about your family’s history? Whether you’re a genealogy expert or just starting to dig into your family’s roots, you’re encouraged to attend Ancestry Day in Tacoma Saturday, Sept. 24.

The event is 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 .

“This will be a great event for many people in Washington and the Northwest who want to learn more about their family history,” said Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman. “One reason why we’re excited about Ancestry Day is because our State Archives, State Library and Legacy Washington maintain historical records and collections that can help genealogists research their family history. Our staff looks forward to helping attendees unlock mysteries to their ancestors.”

“Guiding people as they discover the rich stories buried in their family’s past is an endeavor often filled with wonderful surprises,” said Jennifer Kilmer, Director of the Washington State Historical Society. “We’re very pleased to partner with Ancestry and other state agencies to provide that service for the residents of Washington who want to share in their family’s personal experience.”

The event takes place at the Greater Tacoma Convention & Trade Center (1500 Broadway).

Registration is $35 and includes admission to all classes presented by Ancestry. Lunch tickets can be purchased for an additional $15, which includes a box lunch and the lunch speaker. The first presentation, an Ancestry 101 class, begins at 8:15 a.m. That day, booksellers, genealogy and historical societies, archives and other vendors will have tables in the exhibition hall.

Go here to find out more and register.

Pre-registration is encouraged and available online through 5 p.m. on Sept. 17. Those missing the pre-registration deadline can purchase a ticket at the door on Sept. 24. On-site registration that day is from 7:30 to 8:45 a.m.

Archives Treasure #2: 1920 Vancouver shipyard photos ?>

Archives Treasure #2: 1920 Vancouver shipyard photos


(Images courtesy of Washington State Archives)

Located by the world’s largest ocean and the Pacific Rim, Washington has a long history of shipping and shipbuilding.

Washington probably has had shipbuilders since its territorial days and these cool State Archives photos show images from early in the last century. These shots feature a Vancouver shipyard around 1920. They are the second  of three Archives Treasure for August; a reader poll will appear after the third blog appears. Watch for it.


A Snapshot of Benton County ?>

A Snapshot of Benton County

20050728-Benton County Flag-9417
The flag of Benton County (image courtesy of the Washington State Archives)

Benton is third in a series covering Washington’s 39 counties, including how they got their names.

In southcentral Washington where the Columbia, Snake, and Yakima rivers converge, sits Benton County.

Benton covers 1,738 square miles, designating it as Washington’s 21st largest county. Although it’s not particularly big, it’s population is 186,486 people, giving it a density of 103 people per square mile. This is slightly higher than the state average of 101.2, and is the 9th highest among Washington’s counties. Benton has several large cities including Kennewick and Richland, where most of its residents live. The county seat is Prosser.

Benton County’s name is steeped in American history. Formed in 1905 from eastern portions of Yakima and Klickitat counties, it was named after Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton. Senator Benton was a major proponent of westward expansion, otherwise known as Manifest Destiny. He wrote the first of the Homestead Acts, encouraging pioneers to move West and settle lands. Along with being an American expansionist, he fervently opposed paper money, earning him the nickname “Old Bullion.” Benton advocated the gold standard and thought paper money created inequality and favored the wealthy.

Benton County’s name is not its only claim to historical significance. In fact, the entire course of human history was changed by what came out of a small town within Benton’s borders. In 1943, only 38 years after its creation, World War II visited Benton County in the form of the Manhattan Project.

In order to make atomic weapons, the Manhattan Project produced the plutonium. The Hanford Site, a massive complex, was built in 1943 along the banks of the Columbia. The plutonium manufactured in Hanford was used in the Trinity test bomb, as well as the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan. To this day, Benton has a strong heritage of technology due to World War II, but it continues to be a strong agricultural producer as well.

A photo of the Hanford Site (image courtesy of the U.S. Department of Energy)
A Snapshot of Asotin County ?>

A Snapshot of Asotin County

Asotin County Flag  28July2005 9418 WaSenate rvm
The flag of Asotin County (Image courtesy of the Washington State Archives) 

Asotin is second in a series covering Washington’s 39 counties, including how they got their names.

Nestled in the reaches of Washington’s far southeastern corner is Asotin County (pronounced uh-SOH-tin). It is colloquially referred to as Washington’s “cornerstone.” Asotin, a word derived from the Nez Perce Indian language (originally Has-Hu-Tin), translates into English as, “eel creek.” This title refers to the eels that are ubiquitous in the waterways in and around Asotin County, including the Snake River.

Before the arrival of the pioneers, Asotin County was home to a large Nez Perce winter encampment. The climate of Southeastern Washington was amenable for the Nez Perce, and they held large pow-wows on the banks of the Snake. There was always plentiful food available from both the rivers and hunting.

Asotin County is geographically small compared to some of Washington’s other counties, encompassing only 636 square miles. This designates it as 35th in size out of Washington’s 39 counties. As for population, Asotin has about 22,000 residents, which gives the county a rural feel. For some perspective, the population density of Asotin County is 34 people per square mile, compared the state average of 101 people per square mile.

Asotin County has two main cities within its borders, Asotin, which is the county seat, and Clarkston, its largest city.

A historic photo of Asotin, the county seat of Asotin County (photo courtesy of


Historical Zine Contest under way ?>

Historical Zine Contest under way

ZineGraphic-300x271Are you a Zinester or want to become one? Do you like history? Then take part in the first-ever Historical Zine Contest.

Some of you might be asking, What is a Zine? Zines (rhymes with beans) are basically self-published magazines that give the creator’s point of view on the subject.

The contest, which is sponsored by the Washington State Library, Washington State Archives and Timberland Regional Library, runs through August 31. The contest is open to 4th graders through adults of all ages who are Washington residents.

A free workshop to learn how to make a zine will be held this Saturday from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Olympia Timberland Library. A similar workshop is set for 1-4 p.m. on July 25 at the Yelm Timberland Library.

All three sponsors have several resources that can provide great material to use in the zines created by contestants.

The State Library has many online resources that include books, maps, newspapers and photos. You can also find featured images from these digital collections on their Pinterest and Flickr pages. You also can visit the library to see some resources in person. The State Archives has an extensive print collection, as well as many images at its Digital Archives. You can also visit the Timberland libraries to explore their NW Reference Collection, Zine Collection and Zine Resource Collection.

For more information, visit the Zine Contest webpage or download the Zine Contest Flyer/Entry Form.

Crosby Store Ledger takes it all in this month’s State Archives Poll ?>

Crosby Store Ledger takes it all in this month’s State Archives Poll


This month’s Archives Treasure goes to the Crosby Store ledger from 1859, with honorable mentions for the picture of the 1990 “Steel Magnolias” photo and an 1857 map of Western Washington Territory.

The ledger details the day-to-day transactions of the Crosby Store in Tumwater back in territorial days. The store was located on Reserve Street (now Deschutes Way). It was a general-merchandise emporium and important Tumwater fixture, operated by a settler named Nathaniel Crosby III.

The ledger was the last of the three March Archives Treasures, which showcases many of the rare and interesting items and collections found in our State Archives.

Vote for your fave Archives Treasure! ?>

Vote for your fave Archives Treasure!

It’s time for March Madness, State Archives style. Over the past few days, we’ve featured three items or collections in our monthly Archives Treasures series. Now it’s time for you choose your fave.

The three contestants are an 1857 map of the western half of Washington Territory, 1990 photos of a group of female state representatives known as the “Steel Magnolias,” and the 1859-1860 ledger of the Crosby Store in Tumwater.

The online poll is open below. You have until Wednesday at 5 p.m. to choose your favorite. Don’t forget to vote!

#1 1857 map of Western Washington Territory


#2 Photos of 1990 House’s “Steel Magnolias”


#3 The 1859-1860 ledger of the Crosby Store in Tumwater


What is your favorite March Archives Treasure?

  • 1859-1860 Crosby Store ledger (61%)
  • 1857 map of Western Washington Territory (30%)
  • Photos of 1990 House's "Steel Magnolias" (9%)

Total Voters: 74

Loading ... Loading ...
After 100 years, a public record comes home ?>

After 100 years, a public record comes home


Palouse Clerk-Treasurer Mike Bagott (left) hands a very old volume of Palouse City Council minutes to Lee Pierce, an employee with the Washington State Archives. (Photo courtesy of Washington State Archives)

Between 1914 and 1920, the town fathers of Palouse, a small Whitman County community near the Idaho border and north of Pullman, kept careful minutes of the meetings of their city council. With elegant strokes of an ink pen, they wrote down the official business of their town in a leather-bound ledger.

These were years of prosperity and growth for the wheat-farming towns of Eastern Washington. Issues before the council included extending sidewalks and paving roads, regulating the grazing of cattle within the city (the park was placed off-limits for such purposes in 1919), and quarantining smallpox sufferers. In April 1917, a special session of the council passed an emergency regulation allowing farmers to plant crops in lesser-used city streets “by reason of the fact that our nation has been drawn into the World War.” A 1919 order closed all schools and theaters to limit the spread of influenza.

When the volume of the meeting minutes was filled, in the spring of 1920, it was put on a shelf next to earlier volumes. And then, at some point, it disappeared.

Last month, the City of Palouse received a phone call. A woman living in Wichita, Kansas, DonaMarie Goldsmith, was going through the possessions of a departed relative and found something interesting–an old ledger book from Palouse. How the ledger had ever ended up in her relative’s estate was a mystery, Goldsmith said. The departed had no connection to Palouse and was neither a collector nor a historian. Would the city like it back? A week later, the ledger was in Palouse again for the first time in at least 60 years.

Employees from the Washington State Archives came to Palouse on Monday to take the ledger book to the Eastern Region Branch of the State Archives in Cheney, where the rest of the series is stored. Preserved in fireproof, climate-controlled conditions, these ledgers will be available to the public and protected into the future.

(Thanks to the State Archives’ Larry Cebula for providing info for this amazing story.)

Time to vote for favorite “Archives Treasure” ?>

Time to vote for favorite “Archives Treasure”

Over the past week, we’ve blogged about our three Archives Treasures for February: 1) Photos from the 1969 Black Panther protests at the Capitol; 2) 1976 photos of orcas being captured in Budd Bay near Olympia; and 3) A Colt handgun owned by Hazard Stevens, son of territorial Gov. Isaac Stevens.

Now it’s time to pick your favorite. Please vote for your Archives treasure below. We’ll leave our poll open until this Friday at 4 p.m. Happy voting!

#1 1969 Black Panthers protest photos


#2 1976 photos of orca capture


#3  Hazard Stevens’ Colt handgun


What is your favorite February Archives Treasure?

  • 1969 Black Panthers protest photos (63%)
  • 1976 photos of orca capture (22%)
  • Hazard Stevens' Colt handgun (15%)

Total Voters: 68

Loading ... Loading ...