WA Secretary of State Blogs

Presentation to Northeast Chapter of Washington Farm Forestry Association

Friday, March 24th, 2017 Posted in Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public | Comments Off on Presentation to Northeast Chapter of Washington Farm Forestry Association

On March 18, 2017, Sue Richart, digitization technician and officer at the Stevens County Historical Society, delivered a presentation to approximately 75 members of the Northeast chapter of the Washington Farm Forest Association. She introduced them to the historical resources in the Colville National Forest Collection and the Stevens County Heritage Collection. Attendees received Washington Rural Heritage bookmarks directing them to the online collection. According to Sue, folks commented that they very much enjoyed the presentation!

WSL Updates for March 16, 2017

Thursday, March 16th, 2017 Posted in Digital Collections, For Libraries, Grants and Funding, News, Training and Continuing Education, Updates | Comments Off on WSL Updates for March 16, 2017

Volume 13, March 16, 2017 for the WSL Updates mailing list

Topics include:







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Digital Projects: Year in Review 2016

Thursday, December 29th, 2016 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public | Comments Off on Digital Projects: Year in Review 2016

As 2016 comes to a close, we here at Washington Rural Heritage are at a crossroads. We’re steadily working with our grantees on this past year’s collections, and at the same time, we’re looking forward to the new projects that we will be helping with next year. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s take the time to stop and reflect on what our community has accomplished from 2015 to 2016 in their efforts to preserve Washington’s cultural heritage.

Highlights of these collections include:

  • Asotin County Library’s collection now has images by the photographer, Asahel Curtis, providing a glimpse at everyday life during the turn of the century in eastern Washington, as well as a collection of postcards, which span the first half of the 20th century.
  • The Ellensburg Public Library has digitized various items in City of Ellensburg’s art collection. Included in this selection are works by local artist, muralist, and author, Ernest R. Norling.

  • Continuing the theme of Washington based artists, the La Conner Regional Library collaborated with the Museum of Northwest Art and Western Washington University to create a collection that highlights the works, ephemera, and personal letters of three members of the Northwest School art movement.
  • The Port Angeles Public Library of the North Olympic Library System has expanded upon its already sizable collection of photographs and negatives donated by Bert Kellogg. Notable additions include images of Olympic Peninsula tribes, as well as maritime photos of the Northwest.
  • Kettle Falls Public Library has added to its collection of local history. Included in this year’s project are images of local residents, Kettle Falls, and a “bunny”
  • The Whitman County Library has collaborated with a number of institutions this year, combining items from the Staley Museum, the City of Colfax, and the Colfax Fire Department, as well as private holdings, which were all added to Whitman County’s 2015 collection. The diversity of items in this year’s project is reflected in the cultural artifacts, which include women’s clothing, farm equipment, uniforms, and badges.





Digitization of these collections in 2015-2016 was accomplished with a grant award from the Washington State Library, funded by the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) through the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

Washington public and tribal libraries will be eligible for our next round of digitization grants to be announced in early 2017. Questions about the grant opportunity should be directed to Evan Robb, Digital Repository Librarian, [email protected], (360) 704-5228.


Tale of a torn wagon cover

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For the Public | Comments Off on Tale of a torn wagon cover

Steamboat_theFrom the desk of Evan Robb

COLUMBIA Magazine contributor Lionel Youst recently contacted us to identify a ca. 1901-1905 photo of a covered wagon (at right). The wagon is depicted aboard the Columbia River steamboat Charles R. Spencer. This badly-faded albumen print is from the Stevenson Community Library’s Skamania County Heritage digital collection (click image to see full record). Despite the photo’s poor condition, Youst spotted something about the wagon’s canvas cover—a large tear. It made him recall a detail from the reminiscences of his grandfather. Here’s what he told us:

“My grandparents, Frank and Alice Youst sold their homestead in Woods County, Oklahoma Territory and headed toward Centralia, Washington on August 22, 1903. [Their family of five] stopped and worked the horses at railroad construction and mining jobs on the way out. The canvas sheet [on the family’s wagon] was badly torn when it tipped over trying to go around a slide on the road over the Rocky Mountains. Dad said it was too hard to sew, and it remained torn all the way out to Centralia. I think what we see on the left side bottom of the sheet is a tear—bigger than I thought it would be, but that could be it.”

SK0228-Edit-Grayscale With a bit of assistance from his friend Shirley Bridgham, Youst was able to tease a bit more detail out of the faded photo—click on the image at left to see a full-sized version of the optimized photo.

In addition to the tear, other details about the photo line up with Youst’s grandfather’s recollections.

“The last leg of the journey was from Tonopah, Nevada where Grandad was hauling ore. They came up through Eastern Oregon to Prineville and Madras, and on to The Dalles where they took passage on a steamboat with the three horses, the wagon, and the family, down through the Cascade Locks to Vancouver. They arrived in in Centralia, Washington on June 26, 1904, after 308 days on the road, a family of five living out of that wagon. They certainly boarded the steamboat at The Dalles on or about June 20, 1904—give or take two or three days.”

While we don’t have an exact date for the original photo, we do know that this photo was very likely taken at Cascade Locks (across the Columbia River from Stevenson), between 1901 and 1905, and that the Charles R. Spencer was one of the two steamboats running The Dalles to Portland/Vancouver route at that time.

So is it his grandparents’ wagon?  According to Youst: “If it isn’t…it’s close enough!” For a detailed account of Youst’s family’s journey, see his upcoming article in COLUMBIA: The Magazine of Northwest History.

Paddle to Nisqually

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016 Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Tribal | Comments Off on Paddle to Nisqually

faithHave you been following  the Paddle to Nisqually ? The Tribal Canoe Journeys  happen every summer on the waters of the Pacific Northwest? Each year a different tribe hosts the celebration which follows the final landing of all the canoes, many of which have traveled great distances.  This is a special year for the Nisqually Tribe as the journey ends with them.

Indigenous peoples have made this canoe journey up and down the coastal waterways for thousands of years, but by 1989 the tradition of long distance canoe travel had all but disappeared.  That year, as part of Washington’s centennial celebration, tribal leaders from around Puget Sound revived the practice, calling it “Paddle to Seattle”.  Some tribes carved their first canoe in nearly a century in order to participate in the journey (Oldham).  The journey became an annual event after the Heiltsuk Nation issued a challenge to the Puget Sound tribes and  Canoe Families to come up to Bella Bella in 1993.  This year close to 100 canoes and their pullers, from the Coast Salish peoples of Alaska, Canada and the Pacific Northwest are scheduled to arrive in the Olympia Area on July 30th.  Since 1994 the Nisqually Tribe has participated in the Canoe Journeys and have used the journeys to strengthen its culture, its community, and its families.  Allen Frazier, a Northern California Native and long time Nisqually community member, has photo-documented the event since it began.   In 2013 the Nisqually Tribal Library received a Washington Rural Heritage grant from the Washington State Library to digitize and make available a portion of these photographs.  The result is a rich and ever evolving set of pictures which documents the Nisqually Tribe’s participation in canoe journeys from 1995 forward.   The collection, known as “The Canoe Journeys – A Nisqually Perspective”  includes photos and maps of the routes taken each year.

Approximately 120 canoes representing over 50 tribes are due to land at the Port of Olympia on July 30th. The Nisqually Tribe has been preparing for the celebration for months.  The Landing Day events will be held at NorthPoint at the tip of the Port of Olympia’s peninsula.  The tribe is expecting as many as 18,000 people to attend (Port of Olympia).  The celebrations and protocols will continue until August 6th.    Even if you can’t attend the landing, thanks to the work of the Nisqually tribe you can virtually attend the event through the pictures they provide online.


Oldham, Kit. “Northwest Indian canoes return to site of Point Elliott Treaty on July 26, 2007.” Historylink.org. N.p., 26 Aug. Web. 26 July 2007.

Port of Olympia and City of Olympia team with Nisqually Indian Tribe for Canoe Journey Landing in July.” Port of Olympia. N.p., 10 May 2016. Web. 26 July 2016.


Historic Fire Lookouts in Washington

Monday, July 11th, 2016 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public | Comments Off on Historic Fire Lookouts in Washington

Historic Fire Lookout Stations - StorymapAs we enter, what will no doubt be, another intense fire season in Washington State, it is comforting to know that technology and modern methods are in place to spot and stop wildfires quickly.  But it also brings to mind a reflection on how fires were managed in the early 20th century.  One answer was a chain of fire lookout stations, many built by the CCC in the 1930’s.  “Back in the 1930s the still-growing lookout system seemed like a stable part of the fire protection program of the forests of Washington. “ (Spring and Fish, pg. 11).  “They were placed, wherever possible, so at least two stations could overlap surveillance of the same territory and thus accurately pinpoint the location of a fire.” (pg. 14).  In 1953 the U.S. claimed 5,060 “permanent” fire lookouts (pg. 22) with 685 in Washington.

As keepers of our state’s history the Washington State Library has a variety of resources that help us remember this piece of our past.  One such resource is the wonderful Washington Rural Heritage collection.  This is an ever growing collection of images pulled from personal collections and small historic museums.  Part of the collection includes pictures of fire lookout towers from around the state as well as panoramic images taken from lookout towers.  Pulling images from the Rural Heritage collection and our digital photo collection we decided to create an interactive storymap to keep the history alive.

In addition to the historic images we have several books in our collections about fire lookouts.  So if you are interested in the history, the legends or the modern practicality of how to visit or even cook at a lookout station remember that much of our collection can be requested through ILL.

Doty, Thomas. Trek to Table Mountain: Seasons of Stories. Ashland, OR: Upriver Downriver Productions, 2003. Print.

Kresek, Ray. Fire Lookouts of the Northwest. Fairfield, Wash: Ye Galleon Press, 1998. Print.

Langston, Libby. Lookout Cookbook: A Collection of Recipes by Forest Fire Lookouts Throughout the United States. Coeur d’Alene, Idaho: Museum of North Idaho, 2005. Print.

McFadden, Tish, and Tom Foley. How to Rent a Fire Lookout in the Pacific Northwest: A Guide to Renting Fire Lookouts, Guard Stations, Ranger Cabins, Warming Shelters and Bunkhouses in the National Forests of Oregon and Washington. Berkeley, CA: Wilderness Press, 2005. Internet resource.

Rideout, Ham. Fire Watch: A Summer to Be Remembered at the Steliko Point and Badger Mountain Lookouts : Memoirs of a Jr. Forest Guard and so Much More! Steilacoom Wash.: N.p., 2006. Print.

Luckily for Washington many lookout stations still exist. Today there are eighty-seven lookouts which remain standing. (Abegg) So, if you’re up for a hike or perhaps the chance to spend a night in a piece of history why not venture out and visit one yourself.

Abegg, Steff. “Fire Lookout Structures.” www.sTePhaBeGg.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 July 2016.

Spring, Ira, and Byron Fish. Lookouts: Firewatchers of the Cascades and Olympics. Seattle: The Mountaineers, 1981. Print.

Listen Up! Stories from the Northwest Corner

Monday, June 6th, 2016 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public | Comments Off on Listen Up! Stories from the Northwest Corner

ListenUpLogoFrom the desk of Evan Robb

The National Park Service turns 100 on August 25, 2016.  In honor of that centennial celebration, the Port Angeles Public Library—located right on the footsteps of Olympic National Park—recently interviewed a number of its patrons about their experiences visiting, living in, and working at national parks throughout the U.S.  These audio recordings are now accessible online at: http://sos.wa.gov/q/listenup.

We especially enjoyed ranger Dean Butterworth’s story of guiding troubled teens on a snowshoeing trip in Mount Rainier National Park: http://www.washingtonruralheritage.org/cdm/ref/collection/nols/id/4155.

This is the first of an ongoing series of oral histories projects planned by the Port Angeles Public Library. Their new program, Listen Up! Stories from the Northwest Corner will collect and archive a wide variety of stories from Clallam County residents. Inspired by StoryCorps, the interviews will be made available for listening through the North Olympic Heritage website—part of the Washington State Library’s Washington Rural Heritage program.

The North Olympic Library System is hosting a free listening party at the Olympic National Park Visitor Center on Tuesday, June 21, 7pm, at the Olympic National park Visitor Center, 3002 Mount Angeles Rd, Port Angeles. Stop by to hear locals recall their favorite National Park stories and memories!  And if you can’t make it, the recordings will also be available at the Visitor Center all summer long.

Springtime is grant time at WSL!

Monday, April 18th, 2016 Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Grants and Funding | Comments Off on Springtime is grant time at WSL!

From the desk of Maura Walsh, WSL’s Grant Manager


Washington State Library has the task of helping distribute funds. We’re accepting applications for four different grants right now. We’d love to help your library share in this funding. Look at the programs below. Each title is a link to more information and applications. Please contact [email protected] if you have more questions.

Digital Literacy

Help your community find and use quality information. We support projects to help your library users get special skills. These can include projects for underserved populations, projects to introduce new technology and projects that can develop new skills. Public, academic, tribal, and school libraries can apply. Please apply by May 26, 2016.

Metadata Enhancement & Remediation Grant—Pilot Project 2016

This is a grant designed to help institutions prepare their collections for launching or placement on other platforms by meeting Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) requirements. Our goal is to help make your materials more accessible and to help use best practices for your digital collections. This is to support public, academic, and tribal libraries in remediating, re-cataloging, and/or enhancing digital collection records currently available to the public through digital library and digital repository systems. The applications are due by June 10, 2016.

Microsoft Imagine Academy

Today everyone needs technology just to apply for a job or stay competitive. We’re trying to help bridge the technology skills gap. If your college or library is an Imagine Academy Program Member, we have special funds available now. We can provide up to $3,000 for supporting materials. You can also use the funds for publicity. Or they can help with salaries. The opening for these funds is April 7, 2016.

Professional development (PD)

Would you like to send your library staff to a special conference? Would you like to bring a trainer to your library? WSL designed our PD grants to help. Every qualified library, system, or district can apply for up to 75% of what is spent. This can include transportation, lodging and registration. Apply for this grant year-round.

Refreshing School Libraries to Engage Students

Recent data showed the average copyright of many school collections is over 20 years old. WSL wants to help school libraries update nonfiction collections. WSL will provide grants of $1,000 to school libraries for buying nonfiction books. If awarded a grant, teacher librarians will be able to select the books they wish through their normal channels. They may choose to purchase processed, shelf-ready books if they want, but the grant limit is still $1,000. WSL will reimburse schools for their purchases. Applications for this grant are due by May 10, 2016.

Washington Rural Heritage

What’s interesting or unique about your area’s history? What do you want to be able to share easily today and tomorrow? This program helps public and tribal libraries create historical digital collections. You actually digitize your treasures locally with our expert help. These can be objects and documents. Then they become part of the Washington Rural Heritage collection. Your library can collaborate with other groups in your community.  Applications are due by May 25, 2016


OCLC features Washington Rural Heritage maps and timelines

Friday, February 12th, 2016 Posted in Digital Collections, Uncategorized | Comments Off on OCLC features Washington Rural Heritage maps and timelines

From the desk of Evan Robb

The Washington Rural Heritage project was recently featured in a piece by OCLC—the company behind CONTENTdm.  The piece highlights our use of interactive maps, geo-referenced digital objects, and timelines, using free tools from Northwestern University’s Knight Labs. Read more here: http://www.oclc.org/en-US/news/announcements/2016/CONTENTdm-news-item-January-2016.html

New Deal-era Art Digitization at the Ellensburg Public Library

Thursday, February 11th, 2016 Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public | Comments Off on New Deal-era Art Digitization at the Ellensburg Public Library

From the desk of Evan Robb

Washington Rural Heritage staff hit the road recently to help the Ellensburg Public Library digitize unique works by New Deal-era artist Ernest R. Norling.

Known most widely for his important 1939 book on drawing, “Perspective Made Easy,” Norling also made a significant contribution to documenting Washington’s industry and history in the wake of the Great Depression. His murals depicting early pioneers, agricultural workers, Northwest logging crews, or CCC men at work, grace a great many public and private schools, buildings, and businesses throughout Washington. [Read an oral history interview with Norling by the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art here].

2016-01_ellensburgPL1_blogTo digitize oversize works like Norling’s, Washington State Library staff set up a mobile studio of sorts in the Ellensburg Public Library’s archives and local history collections space (the Library stores and preserves works owned by the City of Ellensburg and the Ellensburg Art Commission). We used a field camera along with a large format lens and digital “scan back,” tethered to a laptop, as shown in the photo at left. The result is a high-resolution, reproduction-quality image of Norling’s painting. It will be digitally preserved by the Washington State Library, and a lower-resolution “access” copy will be made viewable to the general public. The digital photography equipment used for this project has also been used extensively to digitize three-dimensional art work, as well as objects and artifacts held by cultural organizations throughout the state.

Norling’s work, along with a large portion of the City of Ellensburg’s art collection, will appear online this spring, as part of the larger Ellensburg Heritage Collection. Staff at the Ellensburg Public Library are performing the bulk of art digitization and description on their own, with a 2015-2016 Washington Rural Heritage grant.

Washington Rural Heritage is a statewide digitization program, serving Washington’s public and tribal libraries as well as their institutional partners (museums, historical societies, etc.). Library Services and Technology Act funding for the program comes from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services. A new Washington Rural Heritage competitive grant opportunity will be available for libraries by early March. Those with questions or project proposal ideas are encouraged to contact Evan Robb, Digital Repository Librarian, at 360-704-5228, or [email protected].