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Territorial Collection Trivia

arnieFrom the desk of Steve Willis, Central Library Services Program Manager of the Washington State Library:

In the summer of 2002 I was given an assignment that turned out to be a career highlight for me as a cataloger to use my vast powers for Good. The task was to make the Washington State Library Territorial Collection the subject of a recon project, i.e., adding the 400+ titles (800+ volumes) to the online catalog. Providing bibliographic access to the oldest library collection in Washington State doesn’t happen every day.

The list of titles can be found in one group by using the WSL catalog online author search: Washington State Library. Territorial Collection.

In the course of handling these books, I looked them over and added a ton of local notes to the bibliographic records. As we celebrate the 160th anniversary of this collection, I’d like to share a few of the more interesting bits of trivia I unearthed in the course of cataloging.

Tales of a grandfather : being stories taken from Scottish history humbly inscribed to Hugh Littlejohn, Esq.
Boston : S.H. Parker & B.B. Mussey & Co. ; New York : J.S. Redfield : C.S. Francis & Co. ; Philadelphia : Thomas, Cowperthwait & Co. ; Cincinnati : H.W. Derby & Co., 1852.
Library ed. : from the last revised ed. containing the author’s final corrections, notes, & c.

This work by Sir Walter Scott is one of the few pieces of fiction in the collection. Here’s the local note I added: “WSL copy saved from a WWII paper drive by WSL cataloger, Jeannette Rutledge: ‘During the first Victory book drive Miss Rutledge was examining books donated for the campaign and she recognized among this literary ‘scrap’ one of the Waverley novels bearing the book plate of the territorial library. She restored it to the collection …’–From, ‘State Library’s books date from 1542 to 1944’ by Lucile M’Donald, Seattle times, Aug. 13, 1944″

Oregon missions and travels over the Rocky mountains, in 1845-46 / by P.J. de Smet.
New-York : E. Dunigan, 1847.

Signed by Pierre-Jean de Smet himself: “WSL Territorial Library copy inscribed on 1st prelim. p.: Presented to Colonel Michel, Superintendent of Indian affairs, with profound respect and esteem, P.J. De Smet, S.J. … May 11th 1849.”


Historical sketch of the second war between the United States of America, and Great Britain, declared┬áby act of Congress, the 18th of June, 1812, and concluded by peace, the 15th of February, 1815, by Charles J. Ingersoll …

Philadelphia, Lea and Blanchard, 1845-49.

Northwest book collector and historian Winlock William Miller Jr. (1906-1939) presented, er, returned, several books from the Territorial Collection shortly after his graduation from Yale Law School. Here’s the note on the record for the above title: “WSL copy of v. 1 has inscription, p. [2] of cover: Presented to the State Library of Washington by Winlock W. Miller Jr. Aug. 19, 1931. This set was one of the original sets bought with the first Federal appropriation for the State Library in 1853. Presumably it passed into the hands of Gov. Stevens and was acquired by Gen. W.W. Miller at the sale of his effects in 1863. Gen. Miller was administrator of Gov. Stevens estate.”

The history of the restoration of monarchy in France. By Alphonse de Lamartine.
New York : Harper & Brothers, 1851-53.

Somewhere, back in time, an anonymous poet left their cryptic mark: “WSL copy of v. 2 has inscribed in back lining p.: In sleep there is a sense no man has felt.

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