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It’s voting time for October Library Jewels ?>

It’s voting time for October Library Jewels

Since we’re all in a voting mood with the General Election ending today, how about you vote in our monthly Library Jewels poll as well? Just choose from among our three October candidates. Our online poll closes this Friday at 5 p.m.

Washington territorial censuses

wsl_RARE FOLIO 929.3097 CENSUS 1860-1880

1916 Orpheum programs, posters

wsl_MS 0141 Alahambra

1910 photo album of NW Washington

wsl_MS 0456_AHCruseAlbumOrcasSept1910

What is your favorite October Library Jewel?

  • 1910 photo album of NW Washington (41%)
  • Washington territorial censuses (39%)
  • 1916 Orpheum programs, posters (20%)

Total Voters: 69

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October Library Jewel #1: WA territorial censuses ?>

October Library Jewel #1: WA territorial censuses

wsl_RARE FOLIO 929.3097 CENSUS 1860-1880

(Photo courtesy of Washington State Library)

We’re all familiar with the Census that the federal government undertakes every decade. (BTW, the U.S. population is now 322 million!)

But did you know that the U.S. Census folks also focus on American territories?

The U.S. Census Bureau even conducted censuses for Washington Territory three different times – in 1860, 1870 and 1880. (In 1850, Washington was not even a territory – we were part of Oregon Territory – and by 1890, Washington had become a state.)

The 1860, 1870 and 1880 census volumes for Washington Territory are kept safe and secure in your Washington State Library. The three censuses are bound together in two volumes. The first volume contains the 1860 and 1870 censuses, including a mortality census, agriculture production stats, products of industry, and “social statistics,” which included valuation of real estate and personal estate; annual taxes; colleges, academies and schools; libraries; newspapers and periodicals; religion (churches); pauperism; crime; and wages. The second volume covers the 1880 Census.

The three censuses for Washington Territory are found in the State Library’s Rare Publications Collection. They are the first of three Library Jewels for October. More to come later this week.

Library Jewel #3: Letters, photos of 1860s secretary of WA Territory ?>

Library Jewel #3: Letters, photos of 1860s secretary of WA Territory


Part of the Elwood Evans collection. (Photo courtesy of Washington State Library)

Ever hear of Elwood Evans? Don’t feel bad if you haven’t. You’d have to be a Washington Territory history buff to have any idea who he was.

Evans was secretary of Washington Territory from 1863 to 1868. In 1865, he carried two titles, as he also was acting governor of the territory. When he was appointed territorial secretary in 1862 by Gov. William Pickering, Evans’ predecessor, L. Jay S. Turney, did not leave office quietly.  Because Evans’ appointment wasn’t accompanied by a bond, Turney would not vacate the office because he said Evans’ appointment wasn’t legitimate. There was some confusion for a couple of months because both claimed to be the secretary.

The third and final item in this month’s State Library Jewels is the collection of Evans’ correspondence, photos and other materials.

Later this week we’ll start our online poll on the Library Jewels for this month, so be ready to vote!

March Archives Treasure #1: 1857 Western WA Territory map ?>

March Archives Treasure #1: 1857 Western WA Territory map


(Image courtesy of Washington State Archives)

When you look at maps of Washington nowadays, you see a state that is crisscrossed with freeways, highways and railroads, one where cities and towns dot so much of the landscape.

That wasn’t the case in 1857, when Washington was in its early years as a mere territory and 32 years away from statehood. Back then, very few towns existed. In fact, rivers, Puget Sound and the coastline were the geographical features that stood out.

Curious to know how cartographers viewed Western Washington in 1857? Look no further than this 1857 map of the western part of the fledgling territory. The map was compiled by the Surveyor General’s Office from land and coast surveys and information derived from the earliest settlers and the military stationed in Washington Territory. It shows Indian reservations, prairies, swamps, saw mills, roads and trails. The goal of the survey was to classify the usefulness of all the new lands, primarily for the eventual sale to settlers, and secondarily to determine its usefulness to the government for military or transportation purposes. It was one of the maps provided to citizens and emigrants seeking a home in the distant frontier.

The map is the first of our three March Archives Treasures. The series highlights many of the rare and interesting items and collections found in our State Archives. More to come this week!

Dr. Seuss booklet from World War II tops Library Jewels poll ?>

Dr. Seuss booklet from World War II tops Library Jewels poll


(Image courtesy of Washington State Library)

February’s State Library Jewels poll proved what any kid will tell you – it’s hard to beat Dr. Seuss.

A booklet written by the famed author (known back then as Theodore Geisel) for World War II servicemen about the dangers of contracting malaria ran away with the poll, receiving 65 percent of the vote. Finishing second with 30 percent was the collection of Washington Territory volunteer papers. A book of Valentine’s Day-themed poems took a distant third with 5 percent.

We plan to display the March edition of Archives Treasures next week, so be watching!

Library Jewels poll is open, so vote! ?>

Library Jewels poll is open, so vote!

It might now be March, but we’re thinking about February when it comes to our State Library Jewels blog series. After displaying February’s three Library Jewels last week, we’ve opened the online poll so you and others can choose your fave.

The first Library Jewel is a hand-pressed book of romantic and Valentine’s Day-themed poems from Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Ted Kooser. The second is a collection of Washington Territory volunteer papers from 1854 to 1861. The third and final jewel is the Dr. Seuss booklet about malaria that was geared toward World War II servicemen.

The poll is open until Wednesday at 5 p.m., so make sure to vote!

#1 Book of Valentine’s Day-themed poems


#2 Collection of Washington Territory volunteer papers


#3 World War II booklet by Dr. Seuss about malaria


What is your favorite February Library Jewel?

  • World War II booklet by Dr. Seuss about malaria (65%)
  • Collection of Washington Territory volunteer papers (30%)
  • Book of Valentine's Day-themed poems (5%)

Total Voters: 66

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“Archives Treasures” item #3: territorial seal ?>

“Archives Treasures” item #3: territorial seal


Earlier this week, we started our new blog series that highlights some of the millions of documents, images, maps and other historical goodies housed in our State Archives.

Here is the third and final contender in this month’s Archives Treasures poll: the official seal of Washington Territory. The territorial seal was proposed and designed in 1853 by J.K. Duncan, a lieutenant in the U.S. Army assigned to Territorial Governor Isaac Stevens’ survey party.  It was adopted in 1854.

The territorial seal was featured on the front cover of the 2003 statewide Voters’ Pamphlet since that year was the 150th anniversary of Washington becoming a territory.

A story in the February 25, 1854, edition of Olympia’s “Pioneer and Democrat” describes the territorial seal:  On one side a log cabin and an immigrant wagon with a fir forest in the background; on the other side a sheet of water being traversed by a steamer and sailing vessel, a city in perspective, the Goddess of Hope and an anchor in the center, the figure pointing up to the significant word “Alki” (bye and bye).

The first “contestant” in this month’s Archives treasures poll was the boxing license application that Muhammad Ali submitted in 1970 under his former name, Cassius Clay. The second “contestant” was one of the many photos showing the construction of the Legislative Building on the Capitol Campus.

Now that all three finalists are known, it will be up to you to choose which one you like best. On Friday, we’ll do a blog post in which you can vote for your favorite Archives treasure for January. Make sure to vote!

(We originally ran the blog series in 2012. Due to its popularity, we’re bringing them back for an encore performance!)

From Digital Archives: 1889 WA constitutional convention begins ?>

From Digital Archives: 1889 WA constitutional convention begins

The mere mention of July 4 automatically conjures up thoughts of barbecues, parades and fireworks, but most importantly America’s Independence Day.

Unbeknownst to many, it also marks a key date in the Washington history, 125 years ago.

It was on July 4, 1889, when 75 elected delegates assembled in the Territorial Capitol Building in Olympia to draft a state constitution that would form the basis for all future Washington laws.  The delegates worked several weeks before the convention wrapped up August 23. Below is a photo from our Digital Archives showing the delegates in front of the Capitol Building.

Miles C. Moore, the last governor of Washington Territory, called for an election on October 1, 1889, to ratify the state constitution and elect officers of the new state government. Voters overwhelmingly approved the new state constitution, with 40,152 in favor and 11,879 opposed.

A certified copy of the constitution was sent by courier to President Benjamin Harrison, whose approval was necessary before Washington could be proclaimed a state. After no word for several days, a message was received on November 4, (more…)

From the Archives: When Olympia was incorporated ?>

From the Archives: When Olympia was incorporated


Part of the Territorial Legislature’s act incorporating Olympia. (Image courtesy of Washington State Archives)

When you consider that Olympia was founded in 1850 and selected by Territorial Gov. Isaac Stevens in 1853 to be the capital of Washington Territory, you might also assume that Olympia was incorporated as a town around this time as well.

In fact, Olympia wasn’t incorporated until Jan. 28, 1859, when the Territorial Legislature did the honors. Part of the official act incorporating Olympia 155 years ago this week can be seen  here, as well as above. The document is kept on file at our State Archives in Olympia.

Go here to learn more about Olympia’s history.

So, what DO you buy for a 160th anniversary? ?>

So, what DO you buy for a 160th anniversary?


(Map courtesy of Washington State Library)

Unless you really excel at Washington history, you probably didn’t know that this Saturday marks the 160th anniversary of the creation of Washington Territory. (Believe it or not, there is a word – tetracentennial – for such a rare occasion.)

Before 1853, the land north of the Columbia River was part of Oregon Territory, established in 1848. But settlers north of the Columbia soon were demanding their own territory. On Feb. 8, 1853, Congress obliged, passing “An Act to establish the Territorial Government of Washington.” The new territory included the area covered by the state of Washington today, as well as northern Idaho and part of Montana west of the Continental Divide. On March 2, 1853, President Millard Fillmore signed the Organic Act, thus establishing Washington Territory. On Nov. 28, 1853, Governor Isaac Stevens issued a proclamation establishing the government of Washington Territory under the terms of the Organic Act.

This link will take you to an 1857 map found in the State Library showing Washington Territory and Oregon Territory. When Oregon became a state in 1859, the southern half of Idaho and a small part of what is now Wyoming, which were formerly part of Oregon Territory, were added to Washington Territory, as this State Library map shows. In 1863, Idaho Territory was carved out of Washington Territory.

In honor of the 160th anniversary (and Washington, you do look really good considering your territorial birth happened eight years before the Civil War started), we’re featuring a list that shows the 101corporations created during Washington’s territorial years that are still active today.

The oldest health care corporation is Sisters of Providence, created Jan. 28, 1859. The oldest association (and oldest existing corporation) is Odd Fellows of Olympia, established Dec. 19, 1855. And the oldest church? The Diocese of Nisqually (now the Seattle Archdiocese), created Jan. 30, 1861.

Here’s a historical factoid to ponder: The Legislature stopped incorporating organizations in 1865. Prior to that, incorporations were done by legislative action. Nowadays, organizations incorporate by filing with the Corporations Division of the Office of Secretary of State.

Another factoid: Until 1864, if you wanted to get divorced in Washington Territory, it required a bill passed by the Legislature and the governor’s signature to make it so. In 1863, the last year that the Legislature had this authority, it granted 16 divorces.