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WSL Updates for December 15, 2016

Thursday, December 15th, 2016 Posted in For Libraries, For the Public, Grants and Funding, Library 21 Initiative, News, State Library Collections, Training and Continuing Education, Updates | Comments Off on WSL Updates for December 15, 2016

Volume 12, December 15, 2016 for the WSL Updates mailing list

Topics include:







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WSL Remembers John Glenn and Library 21

Friday, December 9th, 2016 Posted in Articles, For the Public, Public Services | Comments Off on WSL Remembers John Glenn and Library 21


John Glenn and Washington State Librarian Maryan Reynolds at Century 21.

From the desk of Mary Paynton Schaff

American hero John Glenn died yesterday after an action-packed 95 years. Glenn was a decorated fighter pilot who earned the Distinguished Flying Cross five times, the first American to orbit the Earth in the Friendship 7 capsule, a 24 year public servant as a Senator from Ohio, and the oldest person to ever fly in space when he flew aboard the shuttle Columbia in 1998. It would be hard to underestimate Glenn’s impact on American culture. His legacy was cemented for many during his first historic space flight in February 1962 – the same year as Seattle’s World Fair, Century 21.

Century 21 opened on February 21, 1962, a mere two months after Glenn’s achievement. As a celebration of science and technology, Century 21 was a natural outlet for celebration of this triumph.  John Glenn  visited the Fair on May 21, 1962 and that’s when a fascinating intersection with Washington State Library occurred.

At the urging of the Washington Library Association, the American Library Association had sponsored a Century 21 exhibit on the library of the future, which was called “Library 21.” Employees from the State Library staffed the exhibit through a deal with the U.S. Office of Education that was brokered by Senator Warren Magnuson. Former State Librarian Maryan Reynolds takes up the story in her book about the history of the State Library, “Dynamics of Change”:

In May 1962, the State Library hosted the Western State Library Conference in Olympia. Naturally, a visit to Library 21 was on the agenda. In the middle of the conference I was summoned to take a call from Senator Magnuson’s office; lo and behold, Magnuson had arranged for the celebrated astronaut John Glenn to visit the Library 21 exhibit and wanted me to be present. Library conference or not, there was no refusing this request. I was present as the famous man toured the exhibit. I recall remarking, near the end of Glenn’s visit, ‘I’m never going to participate in another mob scene like this!’ A newsman, overhearing me, gleefully commented, ‘Oh, yes you will!’

Most of the details about Library 21, as well as Glenn’s reaction to it, are currently lost to history. But several photos of Glenn touring the exhibit with Maryan Reynolds remain. The prints are stored in Manuscript 321, which contains the draft and source materials for “Dynamics of Change.” The one below appears in the book, but we’re partial to the top image that shows Glenn examining something (or perhaps signing an autograph) while a beaming Maryan looks on, decked out in a fine paisley suit (possibly space inspired), hat, and beaded necklace. If only the photo was in color – that outfit must have been amazing.


John Glenn and Maryan Reynolds shake hands at Century 21.

The Washington State Archives has posted additional photos of Glenn’s visit to Century 21 on its Facebook page. Godspeed, John Glenn.

Profiles of Washington Territorial Librarians – Eliza Des Saure Newell, 1882-1887

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013 Posted in Articles, For the Public, State Library Collections, WSL 160 | Comments Off on Profiles of Washington Territorial Librarians – Eliza Des Saure Newell, 1882-1887


Eliza Des Saure Newell

From the Desks of the Central Library Staff

Eliza Des Saure Newell, 1882-1887

The longest serving Territorial Librarian was born in 1853 in New Jersey. In 1882 her father, the eccentric William Augustus Newell, was the Governor. Gov. Newell had appointed his daughter Eleanor as his personal secretary. His other daughter, Eliza, he appointed to the post of Territorial Librarian. The Governor’s nepotism forced the Legislature to change the Territorial laws regarding women in office. Maryan Reynolds picks up the story:

In 1881, Governor William A. Newell submitted his daughter’s name for Territorial Librarian. The legislature responded by passing a bill establishing that ‘Any person male or female over the age of twenty-one years shall be eligible to the office of Territorial Librarian and the word ‘he’ whenever contained in this act shall be construed to mean ‘he’ and ‘she.’

Eliza Newell, Washington’s first female Territorial Librarian, began her tenure on the first Monday in January 1882. Governor Watson C. Squire, Governor Newell’s successor, reappointed her to the post in 1884. Eliza Newell had a wonderful way of wording when it came to official business. In her 1887 report to the Legislature she stated her need for a larger budget with this:

The appropriation for incidentals, is too small for the necessary expenses of the Library, which requires postoffice box, stationary, stamps, wrapping paper, twine, light, fuel, and expressage and porterage to be paid frequently for books to be sent to the Library. The shelves of the main Library are filled to dense packing, also those of the annex. The necessity for additional room is manifest to any observer, and I trust that suitable provision will be made to overcome the inconvenience to which the Library is now subjected, and to make provision for the large increase which may properly be expected. The Library now contains ten thousand volumes.

It seems Gov. Newell, famous for being eternally financially hard pressed, used the Library as his residence. According to historian Gordon Newell (apparently no relation):

Previous governors had been accustomed to rent office space for themselves in downtown Olympia, but the always financially embarrassed Newell took over the territorial library rooms in the capitol building to save that expense. When his daughter was out he frequently ambled from his inner sanctum to check out books for clients of the library, a charming example of territorial informality …

At the end of her term, Eliza married Judge Mason Irwin. She died an untimely death on Dec. 16, 1891.

Profiles in Washington Territorial Librarians- Bion Freeman Kendall

Thursday, July 18th, 2013 Posted in Articles, For the Public, State Library Collections, WSL 160 | Comments Off on Profiles in Washington Territorial Librarians- Bion Freeman Kendall


Bion (Benjamin) Freeman Kendall, 1853 – 1857

[The Territorial Librarian profiles were compiled by Sean Lanksbury, Mary Schaff, Kim Smeenk, and Steve Willis]

Bion (Benjamin) Freeman Kendall, 1853 – 1857

Born Oct. 1827 in Bethel, Maine. Fresh out of Bowdoin College in 1852, Kendall found employment as a government clerk in the Survey Land Office in Washington, D.C. He served as an aide (along with future Territorial Librarian Elwood Evans) on the 1853 Isaac Stevens survey team when the first Territorial Governor made his way to Olympia. Governor Stevens had arranged for the selection of the Territorial Library prior to his departure, and the books arrived by ship in October 1853. The Governor made it to Olympia in November, and Kendall a month later. As Louise Morrison wrote, “Governor Stevens’ first message to the Legislature implied that he considered Kendall the librarian,” but he wasn’t officially elected to the post by the Legislature until April 17, 1854. In that election he defeated attorney Frank Clark on vote of 17-9.

On his qualifications and legacy as Librarian, Maryan Reynolds writes, “Kendall’s political activity and connections were his primary qualifications for the post. Kendall immediately built a small facility at Fourth and Main Streets (now Capitol Way) to house the library. The legislators, holding a proprietary attitude toward the library, bridled at Kendall’s action; they fully expected the Territorial Library to be located under the same roof as themselves …” In his reports to the Legislature, Kendall also provided a listing of the Library’s holdings, the first version of the catalog. He was also appointed as Chief Clerk of the House, February 27, 1854, and was admitted to the bar later that year.  In April 1855 his short and meteoric rise found him in the office of acting U.S. District Attorney, and he was elected Prosecuting Attorney for the 2nd District in 1856. Although he eventually became “bitterly opposed” to Governor Stevens, he successfully prosecuted Leschi in his 2nd trial held in Olympia, going against defense attorney Frank Clark.

Realizing he was not making any friends in Olympia, he visited Washington D.C. in early 1861 to lobby for a new post, and was actually present when Fort Sumter was attacked. He served as a spy at the bequest of General Scott, gathering intelligence for the Union government during a swing through the Southern States. As a reward, Kendall was appointed Washington Territory Superintendent of Indian Affairs for awhile. One writer has observed that “Kendall, though an eloquent orator, able, energetic and industrious, was noted for his unyielding opinions, bitter and juvenile prejudices, high-handed contempt for the views of others and his indiscreet utterances.” He was called Bezaleel Freeman Kendall by his political opponents. His editorship of the Olympia newspaper Overland Press gave him ample opportunity to expand the number of his enemies, and one them shot and killed him in his business office in January 1863. Frank Clark, who had been defeated by Kendall for the post of librarian and was also bested by him at the Leschi trial, was the defense attorney for the man charged with Bion’s murder. The accused man fled, never to be seen again. Some historians have suggested it was Clark’s firearm that was used as the murder weapon and the killer was merely an instrument of broad conspiracy.

Contemporary accounts of Kendall’s murder can be found in the WSL newspapers on microfilm collection or online on our digital historic newspapers site (The Puget Sound Herald of Steilacoom covered the story)