WA Secretary of State Blogs

Announcing the winners of our 3rd Annual Zine contest!

Thursday, March 1st, 2018 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public | Comments Off on Announcing the winners of our 3rd Annual Zine contest!

Picture of two Zines stacked on top of eachother.How many of us remember sitting through dry history classes in school?  And yet history done right is a fascinating and important subject.  Here at the Washington State Library we take history seriously.  One of our strategic goals is to “Preserve and share Washington’s stories.” We have several paths to achieving this goal. There are our historic digital newspapers, the digitized “Classics in Washington History” collection, our collection of Historic maps, and the  Washington Rural Heritage Collection.  But making the resources available is only one part of the process.  We also want them to be found and used.  Our historic digital resources are an opportunity to wake up and engage those history classes.

Three years ago Judy Pitchford had an inspiration, and along with other partners began what is now our 3rd Annual Zine contest.  Do you know what a zine is? “Zines (pronounced “zeen”, like “bean”) are self-published – often via a photocopier – magazines with limited print runs. They can be on any topic or many, are usually written by one person or a few individuals, and typically provide an individualistic or alternative point of view.” (adapted from “Stolen Sharpie Revolution” by Alex Wrekk).  The zine contest requires the use of historical materials from the collections of the Washington State Library, the Washington State Archives or the Timberland Regional Libraries. Unpacking the entries as they arrive is a delight as we get to see people engage with primary resources and make their slice of history relevant to their life.

Today we are happy to announce the winners of the 2017’s Historical Zone Contest.  The winner in the Youth category is Mia Widrow, Grade 5. Mia titled her zine   Hanford : The complex legacy left behind. The adult winner is Lisa Oberg,  who entered, Answering Columbia’s Call : Seattle’s War Relief Bazaar of 1917. Click on the links to the zines themselves and you’ll see not only a great example of a zine but a cross-discipline art/history project that makes history come alive.

Both Mia and Lisa received a $75 prize and their zines will be added to the Washington State Library Manuscript collection.

The river of the west: life and adventure in the Rocky Mountains and Oregon

Monday, October 10th, 2016 Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public | Comments Off on The river of the west: life and adventure in the Rocky Mountains and Oregon

Joseph L MeekFrom the desk of Jeff Martin

The river of the west: life and adventure in the Rocky Mountains and Oregon

By: Frances Fuller Victor, 1826-1902

Hartford, Conn: Columbian Book Company

Publication Date: 1870

“Mr. Meek was born in Washington Co., Virginia, in 1810, one year before the settlement of Astoria, and at a period when Congress was much interested in the question of our Western possessions and their boundary. ” Manifest destiny” seemed to have raised him up, together with many others, bold, hardy, and fearless men, to become sentinels on the outposts of civilization, securing to the United States with comparative ease a vast extent of territory, for which, without them, a long struggle with England would have taken place, delaying the settlement of the Pacific Coast for many years, if not losing it to us altogether. It is not without a feeling of genuine self-congratulation, that I am able to bear testimony to the services, hitherto hardly recognized, of the “mountain-men” who have settled in Oregon.. Whenever there shall arise a studious and faithful historian, their names shall not be excluded from honorable mention, nor least illustrious will appear that of Joseph L. Meek, the Rocky Mountain Hunter and Trapper.”


There sinks the sun; like cavalier of old,
Servant of crafty Spain,
He flaunts his banner, barred with blood and gold,
Wide o’er the western main ;
A thousand spear heads glint beyond the trees
In columns bright and long,
While kindling fancy hears upon the breeze
The swell of shout and song.

And yet not here Spain’s gay, adventurous host
Dipped sword or planted cross;
The treasures guarded by this rock-bound coast
Counted them gain nor loss.
The blue Columbia, sired by the eternal hills
And wedded with the sea,
O’er golden sands, tithes from a thousand rills,
Rolled in lone majesty-

Through deep ravine, through burning, barren plain,
Through wild and rocky strait,
Through forest dark, and mountain rent in twain
Toward the sunset gate;
While curious eyes, keen with the lust of gold,
Caught not the informing gleam,
These mighty breakers age on age have rolled
To meet this mighty stream.

Age after age these noble hills have kept,
The same majestic lines;
Age after age the horizon’s edge been swept
By fringe of pointed pines.
Summers and Winters circling came and went,
Bringing no change of scene;
Unresting, and unhasting, and unspent,
Dwelt Nature here serene!

Till God’s own time to plant of Freedom’s seed,
In this selected soil ;
Denied forever unto blood and greed,
But blest to honest toil.
There sinks the sun; Gay cavalier no more
His banners trail the sea,
And all his legions shining on the shore
Fade into mystery.

The swelling tide laps on the shingly beach,
Like any starving thing;
And hungry breakers, white with wrath, upreach,
In a vain clamoring.
The shadows fall; just level with mine eye
Sweet Hesper stands and shines,
And shines beneath an arc of golden sky,
Pinked round with pointed pines.

A noble scene! all breadth, deep tone, and power,
Suggesting glorious themes;
Shaming the idler who would fill the hour
With unsubstantial dreams.
Be mine the dreams prophetic, shadowing forth
The things that yet shall be,
When through this gate the treasures of the North
Flow outward to the sea.”

Excerpt by Frances Fuller Victor

Washington State Electronic State Publications – The river of the west

Classics in Washington History -A Pioneer’s Search for an Ideal Home

Friday, August 5th, 2016 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public, State Library Collections | Comments Off on Classics in Washington History -A Pioneer’s Search for an Ideal Home

2016-06-28_16-19-26From the desk of Jeff Martin

A Pioneer’s Search for an Ideal Home

Written by: Phoebe Goodell Judson

Union Printing, Binding and Stationary Co., Bellingham, Washington

Publication date: 1925

Phoebe Goodell Judson who crossed the Plains in 1853 and became a resident on Puget Sound before the organization of Washington Territory.

A Book of Personal Memoirs (Published in the author’s 95th year)

It is the oft repeated inquiry of my friends as to what induced me to bury myself more than fifty years ago in this far-off corner of the world, that has determined me to take my pen in hand at this late day.

Did I come around the Horn, cross the Isthmus, or come across the plains? Was I not afraid of the Indians, and much more they ask. So I have decided to answer them all and singly by writing a short history of our pioneer life, and to affectionately dedicate my book to the memory of the late Holden A. Judson, my dear husband, who journeyed with me for half a century in the wilderness.

This will be but a condensed narrative of events which I shall endeavor to recall out of the mists of the past, written with no attempt at literary display, containing no fiction, but simply a record of the homely, everyday incidents of a plain woman, who has now exceeded her three score years and ten, and who has roughed it in the early fifties on the extreme northwestern frontier.

Time has passed so rapidly I can scarcely realize that I have already attained the number of years allotted to mortals on earth.

The romance of frontier life beyond the confines of civilization with its varied, exciting and interesting experiences among the children of nature both human and brute-has caused the years to fly swiftly, as on the wings of the wind.

Excerpt by Phoebe Goodell Judson


Governor Richard D. Gholson

Monday, May 10th, 2010 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For the Public | Comments Off on Governor Richard D. Gholson

From the desk of Judy Pitchford

Richard D. Gholson was Washington’s 3rd Territorial Governor serving from July 1859  to sometime in 1861, though he reportedly returned to his home state of Kentucky on a six month leave of absence in May 1860, never to return to Washington.

Though he was only in Washington for 11 months, two important events did occur – the “Pig War” of 1859 on San Juan Island and the capture of the schooners Ellen Maria and Blue Wing by northern Indians.

Not much is know about this short-term Governor but the Washington State Library has several items in their Digital Collection that give some insight to his time in office.

Edmond S. Meany’s Governors of Washington, Territorial and State  has a brief biographical article about Governor Gholson. Also in the collection are various correspondence from or to Gholson in Message of the President …in reference to the island of San Juan … and Washington State Library’s collection of Richard D. Gholson’s correspondence.

If you would like to know more about the “Pig War”, see Letter from the Secretary of State, transmitting a report relative to the occupation of the Island of San Juan  in our Classics in Washington History .

There is a little bit of information about the capture of the Ellen Maria and Blue Wing and its aftermath in Lewis and Dryden’s marine history of the Pacific Northwest on page 90 (image 113)  and in The Puget Sound Herald, Steilacoom, W.T., March 18, 1859 (page 2, column 2 – Missing) , July 27, 1860 (page 2, column 5 – The Fate of Mr. Schroter)Aug. 3, 1860 (page 2, column 4 – The Blue Wing and Ellen Maria).

Digital Updates – Volume 5, #1 – March 2010

Thursday, March 25th, 2010 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public | Comments Off on Digital Updates – Volume 5, #1 – March 2010

Historical Newspapers in Washington

From the desk of Judy Pitchford

The Washington State Library has added an early Snohomish newspaper to its online offerings.  The Northern Star, from 1876-1879, is the library’s latest addition to the Historical Newspapers Online Project.

Classics in Washington History

Under Exploration and Early Travel, Military History, and Natural History

Report on the construction of a military road from Fort Walla-Walla to Fort Benton by John Mullan

This volume contains Captain John Mullan’s report on his survey and construction of the military road from Fort Walla Walla on the Columbia River to Fort Benton on the Missouri. The narrative consists of Mullan’s report as well as letters and reports from his subordinates. It also includes plates of early missions and camps, detailed maps of the routes, and extensive charts of meteorological and astronomical observations.

Under Pioneer Life and Wagon Trains and the Oregon Trail

Reminiscences of an old-timer

George Hunter came west at the age of sixteen, and narrates a life full of adventure and hardship.  He experiences life in the mining camps of northern California and British Columbia, fights in several Indian wars, hunts grizzlies, harvests oysters, and engages in politics; all the while encountering a vast array of western characters.

Under Territorial and State Government

Laws of Washington, 1889-90

Contains the laws and resolutions of the years 1889-90.

Under Exploration and Early Travel

The North West Company  by Gordon Charles Davidson

A history of the North West Company, its role in the fur trade and its relations with the Hudson’s Bay Company.

Under County and Regional History and Pioneer Life

Church and community survey of Pend Oreille County, Washington

This brief pamphlet reports the results of a community and church survey of Pend Oreille County undertaken by the Interchurch World Movement.

Glimpses of pioneer life. A series of biographies, experiences and events intimately concerned with the settlement of Okanogan County, Washington.

In the early 1920’s, the local newspaper wrote and compiled stories of early pioneers in Okanogan County.

Digital Updates

Friday, November 20th, 2009 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public, News | Comments Off on Digital Updates

From the desk of Judy Pitchford

Volume 4, #2 November 2009 for Digital Updates

Historical Newspapers in Washington – 1 new title.

The years 1861-1864 have been added to the Puget Sound Herald in Historical Newspapers in Washington online project, which now covers six years of Steilacoom pioneer news, from 1858 to 1864.

Classics in Washington History

We have added a new category – 20th Century Events – to our Classics in Washington History.  This category currently contains the Works Progress Administration Papers and, new to the collection, papers by the War Relocation Authority on the Japanese Internment :

The Community Analysis Report concerns how authorities should “deal” with the Japanese and Japanese American people they have incarcerated through an understanding of their customs and cultural background. Causes of social unrest, segregation, education, Buddhism and labor relations are topics covered within these papers.

The Community Analysis Notes “reveal the life experience and viewpoints” of the incarcerated Nisei. Why did many young men say “no” to two questions on the Army registration form? How did the Japanese deal with engagement and marriage in the camps? How did it differ from pre-internment days? How did they adjust to life in the camps?

The Project Analysis Series analyzes various events that occurred during the relocation project. What happened at Tule Lake in November 1943? Why did it happen? What was the reaction to opening Selective Service to Nisei? What are the motives behind Nisei requesting repatriation?

Read the rest of this entry »

New Material for Whitman County Heritage

Monday, August 31st, 2009 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, Grants and Funding | Comments Off on New Material for Whitman County Heritage

From the desk of Evan Robb

The Washington Rural Heritage initiative is pleased to announce several new digital collections–the result of a year’s worth of hard work on the part of four public libraries receiving 2008/2009 LSTA grant funding from WSL. We’ll be featuring material from our new collections all this week.

lightning Horses struck by lightning near St. John, Washington, 1940.
Click image for full record.

Our first new addition came from Whitman County Library, which continued to add to Whitman County Heritage for its 2008 grant project. The Library’s primary focus was on the community of St. John, Washington–its early citizens, schools, and surrounding family farms. Harvest scenes figure predominantly in the new collection, and do a good job of documenting the evolution of wheat farming techniques in Eastern Washington. A few of our favorite images include:

darwinsmith Harvest operation of Darwin Smith, 1933.
Click image for full record.

Following upon two successful years of digitization work, this grant project involved Whitman County Library’s first foray into “community digitization”–reaching out to library patrons for historic material held in their own private collections. Whitman County Library was recently awarded another digitization grant for 2009-2010, and will be expanding upon that model, uncovering hidden treasures throughout Whitman County.

Take a look at the entire Whitman County Heritage collection here. Or view all of Whitman County Library’s 2008 grant material here.

The Whitman Tragedy – Part 3

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public | Comments Off on The Whitman Tragedy – Part 3

Eliza Spalding Warren

Eliza Spalding Warren

Perhaps the most poignant accounts of both life and death on those remote mission stations come from the women who were most intimately involved. In Memoirs of the West: the Spaldings,  Eliza Spalding, the daughter of Rev. Spalding, looks back at an idyllic childhood at Lapwai, the Spaldings mission. She helps her mother, travels with her father, and grows up among the Nez Perce Indians. She often stays at the Whitman mission for months at a time in order to attend school with other mission and immigrant children, and is there on Nov. 29, 1847. Her account is harrowing, as the 10-year-old child witnesses death and terror, and then serves as interpreter between the Indians and their captives. The book also includes excerpts from her mother’s diary and some of her father’s letters that speak of the unrelenting labor that he and his wife undertake.

Finally, three fascinating collections of letters by Narcissa Prentiss Whitman were gathered and published in the late nineteenth century by the Oregon Pioneer Association. The first covers their journey across the country to the Oregon Territory in 1836. The others include Narcissa’s letters to her family back east and correspondence with other missionaries in the West. They can be found in Classics in Washington History as Journey across the plains in 1836.

Sketch of Narcissa Whitman

Sketch of Narcissa Whitman

The letters reveal a woman who is determined to live up to her religious ideals. She accepts the loss of home and her extended family. She accepts her husband’s frequent absences and the physical hardships of frontier living. Yet, she continually begs her family to write more often, and is without any letters from home for two years due to long distances. She is never quite at home with the Indians and has difficulty learning the language. There are hints in her narratives about the tensions among the missionaries and the discouragement when few others arrive to join the mission effort.

Narcissa bears a child at Waiilatpu, Alice Clarissa, that is the light of her life until she drowns at the age of “two years, three months, and nine days.” At the same time she takes on the care of children in need, having as many as eleven children in her home at once and writes, “I am sometimes about ready to sink under the weight of responsibility resting on me…” The letters, though relentlessly optimistic, create a portrait of an intensely social and conventional woman laboring in isolation and surrounded by a culture that remains foreign to her.

See also: The Whitman Tragedy – Part 1 | Part 2

The Whitman Tragedy – Part 2

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public | Comments Off on The Whitman Tragedy – Part 2

Rev. H. H. Spalding

Rev. H. H. Spalding

For decades after the tragedy at the Whitman Mission, writers, preachers and others sought to place blame for the event itself and for the underlying causes. Resentments against the Hudson’s Bay Company and religious prejudices often colored narratives, and led to charges of cowardice or malice.

Square in the middle of these disputes was Rev. H. H. Spalding, a colleague of the Whitmans. While there was often tension between the two families, the Whitmans and Spaldings were also colleagues and a support system in a stressful situation. Years after the event Spalding demonstrates a very personal and theological agenda in his series of lectures which were printed in the Walla Walla newspaper in 1866. Links to all the lectures can be found on the Moments in History page of the digital newspaper collection.
Fr. Brouillet

Fr. Brouillet

In response, Hudson’s Bay employee, William McBean, takes great exception to the accuracy of Spalding’s characterization of events in letters to the newspaper’s editor. See Moments in History.

Another, more studied, viewpoint comes from Fr. Brouillet, the Catholic priest who first discovered the massacre and helped to bury the dead. His brief book, published in 1869, also attempts to refute Spalding’s accusations against the Catholics by gathering statements and letters from people present in the territory at the time and involved in the events, and  by trying to analyze the underlying causes. See an Authentic account of the murder of Dr. Whitman and other missionaries in Classics in Washington History.

See also: The Whitman Tragedy – Part 1 | Part 3

The Whitman Tragedy – Part 1

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public | Comments Off on The Whitman Tragedy – Part 1

Sketch of the mission

Sketch of the mission

The Whitman Massacre of November 29, 1847 provides a painful window into a time of conflicting cultures, priorities and prejudices. Piecing together what happened from contemporary accounts can be both frustrating and fascinating. Were the Cayuse Indians misguided, evil, deceived, or somewhere in between all of those? Were the missionaries heroic martyrs or discouraged idealists? Did sectarian prejudice between Catholic and Protestant exacerbate a volatile situation?

You can explore a variety of theories, personalities and testimony surrounding this horrific event in the Library’s Digital Collections. There will be three posts on this subject to cover the variety of resources available on this event.

For an overview of the mission and its history, try Miles Cannon’s  Waiilatpu, its rise and fall, 1836-1847 . Cannon interviews many of the survivors and puts together a narrative of the whole of the Whitmans’ time in Oregon. The book is online in the Classics in Washington History under the heading of “Pioneer Life,” and is an excellent introduction to the principal individuals, organizations and series of events.

See also: The Whitman Tragedy – Part 2 | Part 3