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Libraries to have `cool’ reason for kids to visit

by Brian Zylstra | April 24th, 2015 11:07 am | No Comments

20150422_150102If you’re a parent, you might have another reason to take your kids to the local library – “Cool Creations.”

More than 30 local libraries throughout Washington will receive educational invention kits for children to use for a limited time, thanks to the Washington State Library.

The State Library will send the libraries 32-piece Cool Creations challenge kits by Lego and Makey Makey invention kits to libraries in late April.

State Librarian Rand Simmons said the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) and STREAM (science, technology, reading and writing, engineering, art, math) educational kits will benefit libraries that don’t have the resources to buy and provide their own for youth patrons. Said Simmons:

“These construction kits are going to many libraries where funding is scarce. The smallest libraries don’t have rooms to store Legos, let alone the money to buy the kits. Providing the kits to these libraries will give many kids opportunities to experiment with them and engage their creative side.”

The State Library will send one or both kits to these libraries or library districts throughout Washington: Anacortes, Asotin County, Bellingham, Carnation, Cathlamet, Clallam Bay, Davenport, Forks, Foster, Grandview, Jefferson County, Kenmore, King County, Mount Vernon, Newcastle, Newport Way, Palouse, Port Angeles, Puyallup, Renton, Renton Highlands, Richland, Ritzville, Salkum, Sequim, Snoqulamie, Spokane County, Sprague, Stevens County, St. John, Tacoma, Tekoa, Whitman County and Walla Walla.

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Library Jewel #2: `Historic & rare’ atlas


(Image courtesy of Washington State Library)

Looking at an atlas made today might not excite many of us since we’re so familiar with the shape of states, nations, continents and other landforms that we’d see.

But seeing an atlas created nearly 500 years ago, during an era when conventional wisdom had just accepted that the world was round and not flat? You can’t help but be intrigued by that.

Such an atlas is very historic and rare. And our State Library has one. It is our second Library Jewel for April.

Its title is extremely long – Atlas minor Gerardi Mercatoris / à I. Hondio plurimis aeneis tabulis auctus et illustratus: denuo recognitus, additisque novis delineationibus emendates. The atlas includes one of the earliest available maps of Japan and Korea, although Korea is represented as an island.

The pocket atlas is found in the library’s Rare Publications Collection.


Tragic news in Olympia newspaper 150 years ago

WashingtonStandard_APRIL22-1865_page2Nowadays, news can spread across the nation and around the world in just minutes, even seconds. That was not the case in 1865.

When President Lincoln died April 15 of that year after being shot, readers of the Olympia-based Washington Standard didn’t see the story (right) about Lincoln’s death until a week later, in its April 22 edition.  The State Library has a copy of the paper’s historic edition thanks to the Chronicling America program that makes historic newspapers available in digital form.

Even though the Washington Standard might not run news of Lincoln’s assassination until a week later, it doesn’t mean that word hadn’t spread to Olympia and other parts of Washington by then. For instance, news of Lincoln’s death reached Seattle by telegraph that afternoon.

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April Library Jewel #1: rare poster honoring late artist


It’s time to show off three more State Library Jewels. With April being National Poetry Month, the first one is timely: a rare poster of a poem about Washington artist Christopher Stern, who died of cancer in 2006.

The poster, a collaboration by Maralyn Crosetto of Day Moon Press and Mare Blocker, was printed at Day Moon Press in 2007 as a fund-raiser to help pay the medical bills for the late Chris Stern, who died in November 2006, at age 56, of colon cancer. Stern was a nationally known fine press printer and teacher. The image on the broadside depicts The Printing Farm, a printing shop in the Skagit Valley, owned by Chris and his wife and fellow printer, Jules Remedios Faye.
On the poster is a poem, written by Blocker, entitled “You told me once you only printed in natural light.”

The poster can be found in the State Library’s Rare Collection.

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Historian/journalist John Hughes honored by state


After being praised by Secretary Wyman (left), John C. Hughes addresses the crowd at a reception honoring him in Wyman’s office. (Photo courtesy of Laura Mott) 

John C. Hughes was honored by the state Senate and Secretary of State Kim Wyman on Tuesday for his robust 50-year career in journalism and doing critically acclaimed oral history for Legacy Washington.

A large delegation from Grays Harbor and dignitaries, colleagues and friends from Olympia filled the ornate Senate gallery as Sens. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam, and Brian Hatfield, D-Raymond, presented a resolution praising Hughes for his half-century of exceptional journalism at The Daily World in Aberdeen and his deft touch at writing profiles, oral histories and books.

Hughes, an Air Force veteran, “helped capture stories about people who may have otherwise been forgotten,” their resolution says, calling him “a treasure to his community and to his state.”

“Washington is fortunate to have John C. Hughes as a citizen and a story teller, as he loves the state dearly and is committed to carrying on his stories,” the resolution says.


With his wife and daughter standing next to him, Hughes acknowledges applause from senators and others after the Senate passed a resolution honoring him. (Photo courtesy of Legislative Support Services Photography Department)

Hughes spent 42 years at the World, rising from paper carrier and copy boy to editor and publisher.  He then became chief historian for the state’s oral history program, which is housed in the Secretary of State’s Office.

He is a prolific author, with books on Sen. Slade Gorton, Gov. Booth Gardner, Gov. John Spellman, and on the Blethen and Woods newspaper families. He did oral histories on civil rights pioneer Lillian Walker, feisty journalist Adele Ferguson, and former First Lady Nancy Evans. His profiles have included rocker Krist Novoselic, the first woman justice, and the first black justice.

All are available free and online. Book versions, originally published with private donations, are available for purchase online and via Amazon.

Hughes’ latest projects are telling the stories of World War II veterans. It’s called Washington Remembers. Stories are online as they are finished.

After the Senate ceremony, the crowd feted Hughes at a reception in Wyman’s office.  Wyman called Hughes a legendary journalist who trained a whole generation of reporters and held to the highest standards. As chief historian, “he has a remarkable way of engaging people in the extraordinary elements of their own lives.”

Former Secretary Sam Reed called recruiting Hughes one of his best decisions, and a list of Harbor friends, including former House Majority Leader Lynn Kessler, D-Hoquiam, heaped on more praise. Hughes’ wife Patsy, daughter Claire and other relatives and friends attended. Spellman made a rare return visit to the Capitol for the Senate ceremony.

In his response, Hughes read a passage from “Tom Sawyer” about attending his own funeral.

“This feels like a combination of a wake, a bar mitzvah and a retirement,” he said with a chuckle. He added that he has no intention of retiring. “I want to do 10 more years.”

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1960s P.E. photo collection runs away in Archives poll


(Photos courtesy of Washington State Archives)

Since the Kentucky Derby is only two weeks away, it’s only fitting that the top choice in April’s Archives Treasures online poll won going away after a battle on the backstretch.

After rushing out of the gate to a strong early lead, the collection of 1960s P.E. photos saw its two competitors, the 1940 Tacoma Narrows Bridge drawings and territorial census rolls, close the gap as the poll neared the finish line Friday afternoon.

But a late flurry of votes just before the poll closed  helped give the classic P.E. photo collection a comfortable victory, as it received 41 percent of the votes. The Narrows Bridge drawings took second (30 percent), followed by the territorial census rolls (29 percent).

Next we’ll have our April edition of State Library Jewels at the starting gate, so be ready.


“How do I get down?!”

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Display marks 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s death


Our office’s front lobby is renowned for historical exhibits and other displays capturing the past.

Even very tragic events.

One of our display cases is the home of an exhibit that commemorates the 150th anniversary of the death of President Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln died on the morning of April 15, 1865, hours after being shot by John Wilkes Booth while attending a play at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.

The exhibit items include a single-shot Derringer pistol similar to the one used by Booth in the assassination. Also displayed is a scrap of black cloth from one of first lady Mary Todd Lincoln’s mourning dresses and a fragment of wallpaper from the room where Lincoln died at the Peterson House across the street from Ford’s Theater.

The items in this exhibit are courtesy of former state legislator and history buff Stuart Halsan of Centralia.

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Vote in April’s Archives Treasures poll!

After showing off our three Archives Treasures for April, we’re ready for you to choose a favorite.

The three candidates are classic P.E. photos from the 1960s that were taken by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, territorial census rolls and drawings of the 1940 Tacoma Narrows Bridge that collapsed soon after it opened.

You can vote by checking out the online poll below. The poll closes this Friday at 4 p.m., so make sure to vote!

#1 P.E. photos from the 1960s


#2 Territorial census rolls


#3 1940 Tacoma Narrows Bridge drawings


What is your favorite April Archives Treasure?

  • P.E. photos from the 1960s (41%)
  • 1940 Tacoma Narrows Bridge drawings (31%)
  • Territorial census rolls (28%)

Total Voters: 71

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Archives Treasure #3: 1940 Tacoma Narrows Bridge drawings


The third and final Archives Treasure for April is a collection of drawings for one of the most infamous bridges in the world.

We’re talking about the original Tacoma Narrows Bridge, which opened to much fanfare on July 1, 1940, only to collapse four months later during a wind storm on Nov. 7, 1940. A replacement span opened in 1950.


The State Archives holds more than 10 cubic feet of construction plans of the original 1940 Tacoma Narrows Bridge. They include the 1938 design plans by the State Highway Department’s lead engineer, Clark Eldridge, showing overall construction details, as well as details of each individual component.

The drawings are found in the Archives, under Washington State Department of Transportation, Marine Transportation Files.

We’ll begin our online poll for the April Archives Treasures later this week, so be ready to vote!

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Bloomin’ good time at the Capitol


Capitol employees and visitors are being treated to an annual highlight — the blooming of the cherry trees and rhododendron bushes next to the Legislative Building. The cherry blossoms made their entrance last week and should be around for a few more days. The rhodies just started blooming a few days ago and should be at their colorful best for at least a couple of weeks. And if that isn’t enough to make you want to visit Olympia, there are rows of tulips to view and enjoy.




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Archives Treasure #2: territorial census rolls


Cover of the 1879 census roll for Thurston County. (Photos courtesy of Washington State Archives)

The second Archives Treasure for April focuses on a subject that was (and is) comes up once a decade — and we’re not talking about class reunions. No, it’s the collection of census rolls for Washington Territory.

The first Territorial Assembly provided that the county assessor make a yearly census report to the Secretary of the Territory. The frequency of the census was changed in 1873 to be biennial. This was changed again in 1877 to one year; then again to every two in 1881. The state constitution required that the Legislature provide for the enumeration of the inhabitants of the state in 1859 and every 10 years thereafter.

The census is a record of all inhabitants of the county, showing date, names and addresses of inhabitants, and statistical figures on age, sex, marital status, citizenships status, race or nationality, and nativity.

The territorial census rolls are available through the Digital Archives here.


One of the pages of the 1879 Thurston County census roll.



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