King County federal census record of McCarty family in 1870, Census Records, 1870 King County Federal Census, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives, http://www.digitalarchives.wa.gov.
The University of Washington is older than the state itself. UW opened in 1861 under the territorial government. Though forced to close three times between 1863 and 1876 due to deficient financial and enrollment numbers, residents in Territorial Washington were committed to building a strong institution of higher learning. One woman, Clara McCarty Wilt, took advantage of all the University had to offer and became its first graduate—of either sex.
To help mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, Washington students in grades 8 through 11 are invited to take part in an essay and letter-writing contest.
The competition, sponsored by the Office of Secretary of State’s Legacy Washington program, asks students to either write a letter to a veteran (living or deceased) or an essay describing what World War II means to them.
China Day Parade, Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, Seattle, Photographs, State Library Photograph Collection, 1851-1990, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives, http://www.digitalarchives.wa.gov.
Theatrical Mechanics Association Day, National Funeral Directors Association Day, Washington Rural Letter Carriers’ Day, even Cactus Day. These were just a few of the commemorative days at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition held in Seattle from June through October, 1909. The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition (or AYP) was the 1909 World’s Fair, highlighting Seattle as the gateway to Alaska, Canada, and the Pacific Rim. Washington’s first World’s Fair, the AYP was held on the University of Washington’s campus in Seattle. The famous Olmsted Brothers designed the fairgrounds that attracted 3.7 million people from across the country and the world. Many of the buildings were built to be temporary but there is still evidence of the fair on the University’s campus. The Geyser Basin, now known as Drumheller Fountain is a survivor of the 1909 fair.
“UTOCO Gas Station,” A.M. Kendrick Photographic Collection, ca. 1890-1976, Photographs, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives, http://www.digitalarchives.wa.gov.
America’s love affair with the automobile has often been tempered by the cost of gasoline – the fluctuating prices driven by politics as much as production. In this photograph of a gas service station in Ritzville, a proud attendant stands next to his pump. A closer look reveals the cost for three gallons of gasoline was just $1.23 – that’s about 40c per gallon. In the background you’ll also see Coca-Cola sold for just 10c a bottle in one of the dispensing machines patented by the Coke Company.
“Black Panthers on steps of Legislative Building, Olympia,” State Governors’ Negative Collection 1949-1975, Photographs, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives, http://www.digitalarchives.wa.gov.
This striking photograph, “Black Panthers on steps of Legislative Building, Olympia” is a snapshot of a larger story. In February, 1969 the state legislature was reviewing a law that restricted individual’s right to carry unconcealed weapons. The Black Panther Party of Seattle informed the public of their intent to protest the law, and in response Governor Evans called out the National Guard.
“Fishing for Salmon at the Kettle Falls,” 1910-1940, Kettle Falls History Center Photographs, Crossroads on the Columbia, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives, http://www.digitalarchives.wa.gov.
When the gates of the newly constructed Grand Coulee Dam closed in 1939, the waters of the mighty Columbia River began to back up behind the dam. As the waters rose, farms, historic sites, and ten small agricultural towns were lost to the rising floodwaters forming behind the colossal dam.
Perhaps the most important site lost was Kettle Falls. Shaped by enormous quartzite blocks, the impressive falls were an important part of regional native culture. As spawning salmon migrated up the Columbia River to their summer breeding grounds, they would leap up the falls. For thousands of years American Indians from all over the region travelled to Kettle Falls to fish and engage in trade and social reunions. Thousands of fish could be caught in a single day by the many Indians who shored the fishing camps beside Kettle Falls.
Spokane County marriage certificate of Gordon Hirabayashi and Esther Schmoe who married July 29, 1944, Marriage Records, Spokane County Auditor, Marriage Records, 1880-2013, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives, http://www.digitalarchives.wa.gov.
“Japanese-American and White Girl Wed” proclaimed the newspapers after receiving word that activist Gordon Hirabayashi married his college sweetheart, Esther Schmoe, in a small Quaker ceremony on July 29, 1944. This wasn’t Hirabayashi’s first time in the news, nor would it be his last.
When America and Japan went to war in December of 1941, Japanese-Americans found themselves subject to special restrictions, including curfews and even forced relocation to internment camps. Some resisted. In 1943, Hirabayashi, an American citizen born in Seattle, intentionally broke curfew and refused to register for relocation to an internment camp, hoping to become a Supreme Court test case. Awaiting the outcome of his case, Hirabayashi moved to Spokane, taking up work with the Quaker-run American Friends Service Committee.
Page 1 of Frontier Justice Divorce Case Cox v. Cox, WAL-719, Frontier Justice, Walla Walla Frontier Justice, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives, http://www.digitalarchives.wa.gov.
Life in Washington Territory could be rough. As Americans moved west, they brought with them problems that only the legal system could settle. The court cases that pertain to these territorial legal matters are indexed in our Frontier Justice Collection at the Digital Archives.
Marriage on the frontier could be as tumultuous as anything you see on reality television today. In the case of Catherine and William Cox, an affair caused their break-up. According to the court records, Catherine Cox was an “affectionate and obedient wife and did what was in her power to promote his happiness and interests.” When she discovered her husband was having an affair with an Indian woman, she tried her best to be a dutiful wife.
George W. Fox in front of Fox House, Photographs, Spokane City Historic Preservation Office, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives, http://www.digitalarchives.wa.gov.
The first automobiles were often called “horseless carriages,” and you can see why in this Spokane photograph from about 1903. In those days owners could choose steam, gasoline, or electricity to power their newfangled vehicles. There was little infrastructure to provide gasoline, and steam engines were slow to warm up, so many people with access to electricity chose electric cars. The availability of electric cars was due to Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison’s work with alternating and direct current electricity, and Gaston Plante’s work on rechargeable batteries. By 1911 almost 30% of all the cars on the road were electric.
“Hidden from Sight” collection includes this image of Mount Rainier from the Puyallup River. (Image courtesy of Washington State Library)
Don’t see the photo you are looking for here, try our partner the Washington State Library! One of the great things about the Washington State Library is that many of its historic photos, newspapers and maps are available digitally, for free.
One example is the State Library’s Flickr page, which on some days receives thousands of hits to individual photos. The State Library’s Flickr page now has a collection of images that show life in the early Northwest. This new collection is called “Hidden from Sight.”
Lewis County census record of Bush and family in 1850, Census Records, 1850 Lewis County Census, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives, http://www.digitalarchives.wa.gov.
George Washington Bush left a lasting legacy in Washington. Born in Philadelphia in 1779 to an African American father and Irish mother, Bush was raised a Quaker. He fought in the Battle of New Orleans during the war of 1812, and eventually made his way out west, marrying the daughter of a Missouri minister in 1831. When his friend Michael Simmons and four other families decided to make the journey west in 1844, Bush and his family decided to join them in the journey.