WA Secretary of State Blogs

The Uncle of the Father of Earth Day: Washington’s sort of Connection…

April 22nd, 2014 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Random News from the Newspapers on Microfilm Collection No Comments »

From the desk of Steve Willis, Central Library Services Program Manager of the Washington State Library:

Several years ago I discovered an unusual Washington State connection to Earth Day while compiling biographical information about unsuccessful candidates for Governor. The election was 1936 and the subject was Union Party nominee Ove Malling Nelson.

Nelson1930s Although a bit distant, the connection is this: Ove Nelson was the uncle of the Sen. Gaylord Nelson, the Father of Earth Day. OK, so its convoluted, but I love trivia.

Attorney and author O.M. “Ovie” or “Ovey” Nelson was a political gadfly and fixture in Grays Harbor County elections for thirty years, 1916-1946. Most of his energy was spent running for either County Prosecuting Attorney or the 3rd District U.S. Congress seat. One reference mentioned he also tried for the State Senate at some time. He ran under the banner of four different parties in the course of his campaign career: Republican, Democrat, La Follette Progressive, and Union. This last party was the strangest of them all, and he was identified with it during a curious detour from his pattern of trying to obtain the above mentioned offices. Nelson was the Union Party’s candidate for Governor in 1936.

Ove Malling Nelson was born Mar. 9, 1880 in Thorp, Clark County, Wis. His parents were immigrants from Norway. He came from a large farming family where politics was apparently in the genetic fiber.

In a May 27, 1999 “countdown to the millennium” piece, the Montesano Vidette included this background on Nelson:

Raised in the mighty Wisconsin forest, his father carved a log home from the forest and would travel 40 miles for food, which he packed on his back. Young Ovey also attended school in a log school house in Thorp, receiving his diploma when he was 14 years old.

“Dissatisfied with the next three years of his life working on a farm, Ovey decided to take a high school course. He had to walk four miles to attend class and once there he was the only boy in a class of four students. Ovey then turned to teaching, but dissatisfied with the Wisconsin frontier, he decided to travel west, arriving in Everett in 1900.

Young Nelson stayed in Washington until 1906, when he decided to move back to Wisconsin. There he worked as a stenographer and bookkeeper. It was also during this time he met the future Mrs. Nelson, Melinda Opperman. The couple later married in Seattle in 1915 and they had three sons.

 Nelson’s stay in Wisconsin only lasted a short time though. He moved back to Seattle in 1907 and it was two newspaper advertisements that played an important part in his life.

 The first ad he answered was for a company seeking a man to work out of town. Thus he came to Cosmopolis in January 1907 with C.F. White to work for Neil Cooney and the Grays Harbor Commercial Co.

Nelson1970sNelson worked for Cooney for eight months when he answered a second ad by W.H. Abel of Montesano for a stenographer. Nelson was hired. During this time, Nelson became interested in the law. He found time to read law in the evenings.

 Nelson worked for Abel for one year, one month and 16 days, before heading to Olympia to take the bar examination, which he passed. In 1909 he set up an independent practice for himself.

 Somewhere in that narrative, according to his obituary, Nelson attended business college in Oshkosh, Wis., probably in 1906.

Nelson’s political runs appeared to have started in 1916. Between 1916-1946 he ran for County Prosecuting Attorney at least four times, and made no less than eight attempts for U.S. Congress. Apparently he sat out the elections of 1932, 1940, and 1944. In the other years I have identified 13 attempts by Nelson to gain elective office. In eight of those he ran as a Republican but never gained enough votes to win a primary. The only way he was able to get his name on the general election ballot was to run as Democrat, Progressive, or Union party member. In most of these elections, he usually won the majority of votes in his home town, which says a lot about his standing in the community and the perseverance of Monte in supporting their own favorite son against the much more populated Aberdeen-Hoquiam or Olympia political base.

In 1922 Nelson made his first bid for U.S. Congress. Nelson’s Big Issue in the 1920s appears to be that he was a “wet,” arguing that Prohibition was a mistake.

In 1924 Nelson ran for Congress as a member of La Follete’s Progressive Party. The Democrats apparently didn’t have a real candidate so Ovie became the main opposition by default. Nelson pretty much mouthed the party line on national issues. In local affairs, he promoted the idea of public ownership of utilities. The Grays Harbor Public Utility District was still 14 years away. Ovie was ahead of his time on this issue.

Prohibition was a major story issue in the region. The Grays Harbor County Sheriff and a host of other law enforcement types had been stung in booze running conspiracies. Alcohol was brought down from British Columbia, dumped overboard in crates into Grays Harbor, where local distributors picked them up under the watchful and approving eye of the local law. Meanwhile, out in McCleary, a thriving cottage industry of producing quality homemade booze helped supplement the local economy. “McCleary Moonshine” even had a special label.

In 1930 he tried again to unseat incumbent Albert Johnson in the primary. According to the Montesano Vidette, Sept. 4, 1930:


 O.M. Nelson, Montesano attorney, is waging a vigorous campaign for representative in congress. He will speak over KMO, Tacoma, Thursday night and Saturday night. His campaign is based chiefly on his proposal to rectify prohibition condition by adoption of another amendment to permit government sale of liquor under proper regulation. He would leave the present amendment intact to prevent the return of the saloon. He has cited the Lyle-Whitney case in Seattle as an example of what he terms the failure of the national prohibition law. He lays the crime wave and much of business depression to prohibition. Nelson is city attorney of Montesano, having been reelected several times.

And although he placed first in Montesano, he finished 3rd in the primary in 1930. Interesting to note his position as City Attorney was an elective office, so he was successful in municipal elections.

The repeal of Prohibition had taken away the topic that had been Ovie’s main campaign issue for years. It was replaced by his interest in monetary reform. In 1934 he authored On the Wane: Democracy Or Communism (Montesano Publishing Co.), a 192 page book the Montesano Vidette said “attacks our banking system and which declares our present money system, based on huge debts, is destroying democracy and opening the door to communism.” Copies of this monograph are difficult to find today.

Now for a little background on the Union Party. It was a brief blip on the political radar, initially causing panic among Democrats but as it turned out was of little consequence in the election. The Party’s foundation was built from three groups who felt FDR was not doing enough to meet the financial crisis of the 1930s: The Townsendites, the Coughlin listeners, and the Share Our Wealth followers.

The historian William Manchester gives his take on the Union Party: “… Father Coughlin and his colleagues preempted the lunatic fringe, presenting for the voters’ consideration their new Union Party. The Union candidate for President was Congressman William Lemke of North Dakota, a strange individual with a pocked face, a glass eye, and a shrill voice; to the radio priest’s dismay he insisted upon wearing a gray cloth cap and an outsize suit. Coughlin baptized him ‘Liberty Bill,’ and Gerald L.K. Smith drew up plans to guard the November polls with a hundred thousand Townsendite youths. The radio priest promised to quit the air forever if he didn’t deliver nine million votes for the Union ticket. That seemed extravagant, but in June both major parties were taking Lemke seriously … The sobriquet ‘Liberty Bill’ was catching on. Father Coughlin rather liked the alliterative resemblance to ‘Liberty Bell.’ Then, too late, he remembered something: the Liberty Bell was cracked.”

The Washington State Union Party met at the Frye Hotel in Seattle and nominated Nelson for Governor. National organizer H.F. Swett predicted to the Seattle Daily Times the Union Partywould carry Wyoming and Idaho and that the ticket would make a creditable showing in Washington.”

Nelson clearly saw himself as coming from the Left in his Union Party run. Incumbent Gov. Martin was a moderate Democrat. The Washington Commonwealth Federation, a liberal political action group which included Townsendites in their ranks, had failed to displace Martin in the primary. Part of this was due to the fact 1936 was the first blanket primary in Washington, and many Republicans crossed over to choose the least objectionable Democrat. Meanwhile, former Governor and extreme conservative Roland Hartley, who was defeated in 1932 by Martin, won the Republican primary. Nelson tried to capitalize on the fact the Left had nowhere to go. Here’s part of an article from the Sept. 17, 1936 Montesano Vidette:


Following the lead of the union party’s presidential candidate, William Lempke, who insists he will be elected president in November, O.M. Nelson, Montesano’s first gubernatorial candidate, declares he will be the next governor of Washington …

 Despite the fact that his is frankly a minority group, Nelson forsees a coalition of liberal political voters in the state who won’t vote for ‘those two reactionaries, Martin and Hartley.’ This coalition will vote for the union party candidates, Nelson declares.

 “Money is the issue,” Nelson says. “All other issues are subordinate to the issue of honest money. Most of our economic problems are the direct result of our present dishonest money system. As soon as people wake up, they will realize they have been robbed for years and will put an end to dishonest money.”

 Martin, meanwhile, was no slouch when it came to political fence mending. Two other third party gubernatorial challenges, both of them with Townsendites in their ranks, were quelled before they had chance to file for the ballot.

Nelson did campaign throughout the state. He is on record as speaking to large groups in Walla Walla, Colfax, Spokane, Ellensburg, Davenport, Seattle, Tacoma, and Olympia.

It didn’t do any good. Gov. Martin was re-elected with almost 70% of the vote. Nelson placed third out of the eight candidates with 6,349 votes (0.94%). He seemed to have a bump in votes in Clallam, Clark, Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pierce, Thurston, Walla Walla and Yakima counties, but even then he was never close to finishing at second place. The six third party candidates combined total only accounted for 2.52% of the vote.

Nationally and locally the Democrats enjoyed a huge landslide. The Republicans would be down to 5 senators and 6 representatives in the 145-member Washington State Legislature in the 1937 Session. The Argus ran this bit: “The day after election four years ago Jay Thomas, who was then public printer, stepped down to the lobby of the Olympian Hotel and let out a yell, ‘Look at me, the last living Republican.’ Recalling this incident, an old timer remarked here this morning after this election, ‘and now Jay is dead.’”

The Union Party evaporated after the 1936 election, but Nelson didn’t give up trying to get elected to public office. He made at least three more attempts to win the Republican primary for U.S. Congress. As usual, if it had been up to Montesano voters alone he would’ve been elected, but he couldn’t get the district-wide support.

In 1946 he ran one last time for Congress as a Republican under the catchy slogan: “We can produce abundance every day and we should be able to live abundantly every day without ruining the nation and ourselves with debts.” Although he seldom ran political newspaper ads in his early years, he came around at the end.

Ovie apparently retired from his quest for public elected office after 1946, but he remained very active in civic affairs. In the post-War years, he donated a chunk of land to Montesano for use as “Nelson Field,” a Little League Baseball park. In 1960, at the age of 80, he wrote his best known work: Our Legalized Monetary Swindles (New York : Vantage Press).

Ovie was still an active and a sought after speaker into his 90s. He died suddenly during the Grays Harbor Bar Association Christmas party at the Nordic Inn in Aberdeen, Dec. 19, 1975. His front page obituary stated, “At the time of his death he is believed to have been the oldest practicing attorney in the state.”

John C. Hughes, the Chief Historian of our own Legacy Project here at the Office of Secretary of State, shares this memory of Ove Nelson:

When I covered the Courthouse for The Aberdeen Daily World in the late 1960s, I visited O.M. Nelson several times at his office in Montesano. It was like having an audience with Teddy Roosevelt, William Jennings Bryan or H.L. Mencken. Today we seem to have few genuine, iconoclastic, larger than life characters who aren’t dogmatic windbags. Nelson was all over the political map during his long career, but never motivated by opportunism. He waved his arms passionately when he warmed to a subject. Considering that all around him—on the desk, the floor and bookcases—papers were stacked two or more feet high, some leaning precariously like the tower at Pisa, I always worried that one false move could trigger a catastrophe. Nelson claimed he could quickly locate anything he needed in all the clutter. I never tested him. His grandson, Greg Nelson, Aberdeen’s city attorney, says grandpa’s secretary once heard a loud thump inside his office and feared he had fallen. It was just a mound collapsing onto the floor.

My, my, this post sure strayed a bit from Earth Day. Such is the interdisciplinary nature of history.


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Linking the Past with the Present

April 17th, 2014 Nono Burling Posted in Articles, Digital Collections, For Libraries, For the Public, State Library Collections No Comments »

Ever since the advent of Web 2.0 people are finding creative ways to harness the power of the web to learn about and share their passions.  Resources are shared and discovered; connections are made between people.  Here at the Washington State Library we have a mission to collect, preserve and make accessible materials about the history and culture of Washington State.  This task is accomplished in a variety of ways, from scanning newspapers, or entire books, to helping communities scan, organize and digitize their local historic collections.  While the library has accomplished this mission by providing access to its digital collections this really is only the first step.  When it gets interesting is when people start interacting with the collections.

Much to our delight, people are finding our collections and using them to enrich their lives.  I wanted to share a few of the stories and comments which have resulted from the resources we’ve shared.  A picture from the Garfield County Heritage collection titled “Denison children and goat cart, 1929” elicited this comment Denison_children_and_goat_cart_1929“My Great Aunt Mary, Great Uncle Roger, and my Lovely Grandmother Dorothy Denison Ruchert. I cherish this photo and hope to bring back the goat carts for use today!”

Or we received this comment on a photo of Nooksack Valley“So grateful to have found these photos! We now live on this very property and are in the midst of returning the homestead to historic glory.”   	Logging on Gardene's homestead on property

Then there was the time that the Public Services desk received a call from someone who had heard that the Washington State Library had digitized her Great-Great-Great Grandfather’s journal.  When asked who that person might be, they said, Daniel Bigelow.  We were excited to let her know that the State Library Digital and Historical Collections team had indeed made the journal, along with other mementos kept in the Manuscripts Collection, digitally available.  Thrilled, she explained that her family was unaware that the material was available and was eager to pass the word along to her kin.  Needless to say, our Public Services team was delighted to help make these connections.

Finally, the other day on our Facebook page there was a wonderful piece of serendipity.  Just for fun we posted pictures of a small library in Eastern Washington with a challenge to “Name that Library”.  Someone who saw the post commented that her great grandparents had lived in that community and she was interested in genealogy.  A librarian from that library, OK I’ll tell you, The Denny Ashby Library in Pomeroy, saw the post, and knew of a book that had been scanned and made available in Open Library.  She went to the book and found an entry about the person’s great-grandparents and shared the link in the comments.  Connection made, information shared.  How cool is that? Keep reading, keep watching, you never know when something that links you to the past will turn up on your 21st Century device.

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WSL Updates for April 17, 2014

April 17th, 2014 Diane Hutchins Posted in For Libraries, For the Public, Grants and Funding, News, Technology and Resources, Training and Continuing Education, Updates No Comments »

Volume 10, April 17, 2014 for the WSL Updates mailing list

Topics include:







Read the rest of this entry »

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Have you read a poem lately?

April 11th, 2014 Kim Smeenk Posted in For Libraries, For the Public, State Library Collections, Washington Reads No Comments »

If you haven’t read poetry in a while, now is the perfect time to start again - April is National Poetry Month.

In his National Poetry Month proclamation, Governor Inslee called on

“…all the people of Washington to observe National Poetry Month in a more meaningful, personal way…as a means to offer comfort and solace to those who are suffering as a result of the Oso mudslide.

One way to do so is to submit a poem yourself to the Art with a Heart – Response to Oso tumblr forum.

The Washington State Arts Commission runs the forum.  Among the poems you can find there is one written by Elizabeth Austen, the Washington State Poet Laureate.

If you would like to read poetry written by other Washington state poets, browse the Washington State Library’s collection for the poetry books listed in our catalog.

Here are just a few excerpts from that collection that might, as the governor said, “offer comfort and solace.

Grace AboundingWillow_Tree_
I’m saved in this big world by unforeseen
friends, or times when only a glance
from a passenger beside me, or just the tired
branch of a willow inclining toward earth,
may teach me how to join earth and sky.
Even in Quiet Places by William Stafford (1996)

Nooksack Valley
At the far end of a trip north
In a berry-pickers cabin
At the edge of a wide muddy field
Stretching to the woods and cloudy mountains,
Feeding the stove all afternoon with cedar,
Watching the dark sky darken, a heron flap by,
Riprap, & Cold Mountain Poems by Gary Snyder (1965)

Round_beech_stones_ Riverbed
We walk on round stones, all flawlessly bedded,
Where water drags the cracked dome of the sky
Riverbed by David Wagoner (1972)


His Father’s Whistle
For hours the boy fought sleep,
strained against the whir of cicadas, moths
at the screens bumbling, night’s
blue breezes, to hear out on the country road
his father’s car rumbling in gravel.
Earthly Meditations by Robert Wrigley (2006)

Aurora_Northern Lights
Once more it’s the rainbow leaps
and foldings of the old process,
a whole border of pink roses
growing wild on the horizon.
The Dark Path of Our Names by Joan Swift (1985)

Mount Alaska Stream

In the pines
where the sun never shines
a small, damp fire filled mountains
green lungs of each century
Orcas Island by Don Wilsun (1980)

Untitled by Nasira Alma
in cascades
down the blooming rocks
yesterday’s rain
Sunlight through Rain: A Northwest Haiku Year (1996)

Come and visit us, or browse the catalog, if you’re  looking for a poetry book written in or about the Pacific Northwest.


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WSL Updates for April 10, 2014

April 9th, 2014 Will Stuivenga Posted in For Libraries, Grants and Funding, News, Training and Continuing Education, Updates No Comments »

Volume 10, April 10, 2014 for the WSL Updates mailing list

Topics include:









The Libri Foundation is offering a limited number of special non-matching BOOKS FOR CHILDREN grants to libraries serving rural communities affected by recent hurricanes, floods, or other natural disasters. Libraries receiving these grants will be able to select $700 worth of new, quality, hardcover children’s books from the Foundation’s 600-title booklist. No local matching funds are required. Libraries will be qualified on an individual basis.

In general, county libraries should serve a population under 16,000 and town libraries should serve a population under 10,000 (usually under 5,000). Libraries should be in a rural area, have a limited operating budget, and an active children’s department. Please note: Rural is usually considered to be at least 30 miles from a city with a population over 40,000.

Application packets for these special grants may be requested by mail, telephone, or fax from The Libri Foundation. Applications must be postmarked by Thursday, May 15, 2014. Grants will be awarded Saturday, May 31, 2014. Information about the Disaster Relief Grants is available at www.librifoundation.org/relief.html. Contact information for the Libri Foundation may be found by visiting librifoundation.org.



America’s seniors have historically been late adopters to the world of technology compared to their younger compatriots, but their movement into digital life continues to deepen, according to newly released data from the Pew Research Center. The report, Older Adults and Technology Use, takes advantage of a particularly large survey to examine both technology use by Americans ages 65 or older compared to the rest of the population, as well as usage within the senior population.

Two different groups of older Americans emerge: The first group (which leans toward younger, more highly educated, or more affluent seniors) has relatively substantial technology assets, and also has a positive view toward the benefits of online platforms. The other (which tends to be older and less affluent, often with significant challenges with health or disability) is largely disconnected from the world of digital tools and services, both physically and psychologically.

As the internet plays an increasingly central role in connecting Americans of all ages to news and information, government services, health resources, and opportunities for social support, these divisions are noteworthy—particularly for the many organizations (such as libraries) and individual caregivers who serve the older adult population.

To read a summary of findings, or access the entire report, visit sos.wa.gov/q/Pew-Seniors.



It’s April – time to celebrate El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Children’s Day/Book Day). Día is a nationally recognized initiative that emphasizes the importance of literacy for all children from all backgrounds. It is a daily commitment to linking children and their families to diverse books, languages, and cultures. As part of the celebrations, the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of ALA, is offering numerous free Día resources to download including:

  • Webinars;
  • Press Kits;
  • Día Family Book Club Toolkit;
  • Posters;
  • Resource Guide.

Register your 2014 programs at the new Día website and you will help build a searchable database that will enable you to share your program information with other librarians and members of the public interested in learning more about Día programs happening around the country. Libraries that register will also receive Día stickers, buttons and bookmarks (while supplies last).

For more information on Día and to add your program to the database, visit dia.ala.org.



Libraries and librarians have a powerful and positive impact on the lives of Americans on a daily basis. Their stories are key to communicating the value of libraries. National Library Week (April 13-19, 2014) is the perfect opportunity to encourage your community to tell the story of how the library has changed their lives. All participants will be entered into a grand-prize drawing for a Kindle Fire, so encourage your library lovers to start tweeting, snapping photos, and sharing their stories today by visiting sos.wa.gov/q/stories.

ALA’s Campaign for America’s Libraries has a variety of tools and ideas to help you promote the 2014 theme of “Lives change @ your library.” Promotional materials include a sample op-ed, proclamation, press release and scripts for use in radio ads. Visit ala.org/NLW.

National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use.



The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of ALA, is giving away 40 sets of the 2014 Teens’ Top Ten nominees to libraries in need. Qualified libraries can apply now through May 1 for a chance to win a set of the 2014 Teens’ Top Ten nominated titles. Individual library branches within a larger system are welcome to apply. For more information about the giveaway, and the Teens’ Top Ten, visit www.ala.org/yalsa/teenstopten.

The Teens’ Top Ten is a “teen choice” list, where teens nominate and choose their favorite books of the previous year. Nominators are members of teen book groups in 16 school and public libraries around the country. Nominations are posted on Celebrate Teen Literature Day, the Thursday of National Library Week, and teens across the country vote on their favorite titles each year. Readers age 12 to 18 will vote online between August and Teen Read Week in October.

This year, new teen book groups will be selected to be the nominators for future Teens’ Top Ten lists. The book groups will serve during the 2015-2016 term. For more information and to apply, visit the Teens’ Top Ten website using the link above.



Monday, April 14:

  • ProQuest Research Library – With so many publications, how do you find the right one to search? (ProQuest); 11:00 – 11:30 p.m. PDT: sos.wa.gov/q/PQ1017;
  • Common Core and ProQuest Resources (ProQuest); 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. PDT: sos.wa.gov/q/PQ1013;
  • eLibrary for Schools (ProQuest); 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. PDT: sos.wa.gov/q/PQ1014;

Tuesday, April 15:

  • Introduction to the ProQuest Platform (ProQuest); 8:00 – 8:45 a.m. PDT: sos.wa.gov/q/PQ1012;
  • Managing patron-initiated ILL requests in WorldCat Discovery (OCLC); 8:30 – 9:30 a.m. PDT: sos.wa.gov/q/OCLC15Apr;
  • The Power of the PowerLink 4 Control Unit (AbleNet University); 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. PDT: sos.wa.gov/q/ANU15Apr;
  • Bozarthzone! Truth About Social Learning (InSync Training); 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. PDT: sos.wa.gov/q/BZ15Apr;
  • The Scoop on Series Nonfiction: What’s New for Spring 2014 (Booklist); 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. PDT: sos.wa.gov/q/BL15Apr;
  • The New Volunteer Manager’s Toolkit (VolunteerMatch); 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. PDT: sos.wa.gov/q/VM15Apr;
  • LGBTQ Book Buzz (Library Journal); 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. PDT: sos.wa.gov/q/LGBTQBuzz;
  • Beyond an Apple a Day: Providing Consumer Health Information at Your Library – Part 1 of 2 (Texas State Library); 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. PDT: sos.wa.gov/q/TSL15Apr;
  • ProQuest Research Library and K12 Central (ProQuest); 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. PDT: sos.wa.gov/q/PQ1015;
  • SIRS Discoverer (ProQuest); 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. PDT: sos.wa.gov/q/PQ1016;

Wednesday, April 16:

  • NCompass Live: Killing Dewey (NCompass Live); 8:00 – 9:00 a.m. PDT: sos.wa.gov/q/NComp16Apr;
  • Becoming a Valued Player: A Toolkit for Personal and Professional Success (AMA); 9:00 – 10:00 a.m. PDT: sos.wa.gov/q/AMA16Apr;
  • QIAT (Quality Indicators for Assistive Technology) Session 8: Professional Development and Training in AT (Assistive Technology) (AbleNet University); 9:30 – 10:30 a.m. PST: sos.wa.gov/q/QIAT8;
  • Effective Strategic Planning Part 2: Plan Development & Implementation (4Good); 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. PDT: sos.wa.gov/q/4Good16Apr;
  • Andy Griffiths Book Talk (School Library Journal/Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group); 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. PDT: sos.wa.gov/q/SLJAndy;
  • WorldShare Management Services Live Demonstration: Print Collections (OCLC); 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. PDT: sos.wa.gov/q/OCLC16Apr;
  • From Baby to Preschooler: Early Childhood Health Resources (Infopeople); 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. PDT: sos.wa.gov/q/Info16Apr;
  • Grantwriters as Strategic Leaders: Your Crucial Role (4Good); 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. PDT: sos.wa.gov/q/4Good16AprPM;
  • Clinical Trials.gov (National Network of Libraries of Medicine, PNR, RML); 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. PDT: sos.wa.gov/q/RML;

Thursday, April 17:

  • The Supercharged Management System (Heritage Preservation); 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. PDT: sos.wa.gov/q/HPSuper;
  • Creating Interactive Videos from Really Boring Talking Heads, Lectures and Demo Videos (Training Magazine Network); 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. PDT: sos.wa.gov/q/TMN17Apr;
  • Digital Natives vs. Digital Immigrants in the Classroom: What do Educators Need to Know? (AbleNet University); 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. PDT: sos.wa.gov/q/ANU17Apr;
  • Playing by the Rules: Creating an Effective Volunteer Handbook (VolunteerMatch); 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. PDT: sos.wa.gov/q/VM17Apr;
  • Ask the Expert: Everything You Wanted to Know about Nonprofit Tax Law (GuideStar); 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. PDT: sos.wa.gov/q/taxlaw;
  • Who’s Using WorldShare ILL Now? Practical advice from real users (OCLC); 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. PDT: sos.wa.gov/q/OCLC17Apr;
  • Decision making: Crystal Ball or Magic 8 Ball? (Colorado State Library); 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. PDT: cslinsession.cvlsites.org.


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What can you find in a city directory?

April 7th, 2014 Kim Smeenk Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, State Library Collections, Uncategorized 1 Comment »

Do you know what you can find in a city directory?

If you want to research your home, your family history,
or local history you’ll want to use city directories.

They are similar to telephone books in that they were published every year, and they list the people living in a city….but city directories have so much more information.

You can find out the name of a spouse, both living and deceased.

Everett City Directory 1939

Everett City Directory 1939


You can find out someone’s profession.

cd profession

Wenatchee City Directory 1936


You can look up a company, and find out who was in charge.

Spokane City Directory 1893

Spokane City Directory 1893


If you are researching the history of your house you can search most city directories by street
address, instead of by a name, and find out who lived at a particular address.

Bellingham City Directory 1939

Bellingham City Directory 1939

This is a partial list of people and businesses located on Meridian Street in Bellingham in 1939.

In 1939, the Fountain Plumbing Co. could be found at 2309 Meridian.  Today, over 70 years later,  there is still a home improvement business at that address.

Not a plumbing company,  but a store selling recycled and salvaged building supplies.


You can track your ancestors year by year.

You not only find out if their address changed, but also if their employment or marital status changed.  These 1936 and 1938 Wenatchee city directories tell us that Don Miller got promoted during those years, becoming the President/Manager of North Central Chevrolet.






City directories also provide a historical snapshot of the city.  There is usually a profile of the city
at the beginning of each one, along with some statistical data.

Ellensburg City Directory 1968

Ellensburg City Directory 1968

The information provided varies from year to year and city to city.

This example from the 1968 Ellensburg City Directory tells us what their population was, and what their media, entertainment and transportation options were.

It gets even more detailed, and tells us how many beds the hospital had, how many volumes the library held, how many telephones were in use.
*click on the image to read those numbers*

There might not be surviving data from the Ellensburg Chamber of Commerce, but since they provided these statistics, along with the historical and economic data for the directory, we still have this historical snapshot of Ellensburg in 1968.



The directories after about 1920 usually have a yellow pages section where the businesses, churches, and government offices are listed by subject.

You can find out who all the local officials were….the mayor, police chief, and so on.
If the town happens to have Federal Government offices, you can find out who was in charge of them, as we can see in this  1955 Moses Lake city directory.

cd government

Moses Lake City Directory 1955


You can even find a future president….living with his mother in Seattle in 1961-1962.


Seattle City Directory 1961-1962


The Washington State Library has a collection of city directories for cities all over the state.

This page on our web site lists all of the city directories in our collection.

Contact us if you have any questions about using our city directory collection.
askalibrarian@sos.wa.gov   /   360.704.5221



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WSL Updates for April 3, 2014

April 3rd, 2014 Diane Hutchins Posted in For Libraries, For the Public, Grants and Funding, News, Technology and Resources, Training and Continuing Education, Updates No Comments »

Volume 10, April 3, 2014 for the WSL Updates mailing list

Topics include:







Read the rest of this entry »

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Double Trouble in Walla Walla

April 2nd, 2014 Kim Smeenk Posted in For Libraries, For the Public, State Library Collections, Uncategorized, Washington Reads No Comments »

Double_Trouble cover

Double Trouble in Walla Walla.

The Adventure on Klickitat Island

What do these titles have in common?

Well, they contain two of Washington State’s very unique place names.  Walla Walla and Klickitat are just fun to say.

They are also part of our collection of children’s books here at the Washington State Library.

We don’t just have history books and microfilm here at the State Library.  We collect any book written about, or set in, Washington State.  That includes picture books.


Double Trouble in Walla Walla by Andrew Clements is a wonderful tongue twister of a tale that is great fun to read aloud.Double_trouble 2

In Lulu’s English class one morning, there is an outbreak of “lippity-loppity jibber-jabber.”

Everyone is double talking - the students, the teachers, the nurse and even the principal.

He tries to deny it by saying “Tut-tut, sounds like silly-willy hocus pocus to me”.

It seems he has caught the double talk bug too.

Adventure on Klickitat Island
by Hilary Horder Hippely is a beautifully illustrated nighttime adventure.  A little boy and his bear head out to help animals on the island who are wet and cold in a thunderstorm.

“On Klickitat Island
just think of the rains,klickitat
now soaking the otters
and poor baby cranes”

Once they get to the island, all of the animals work with him to build a shelter.  They triumph over the cold rainy night.

“With deer hauling driftwood
and cranes helping sort,
soon standing up tall
was a Klickitat fort!”

Come and visit us, or browse our catalog, if you’re  looking for a children’s book set in, or written about, Washington State.


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WSL Updates for March 27, 2014

April 1st, 2014 Will Stuivenga Posted in For Libraries, Grants and Funding, News, Training and Continuing Education, Updates No Comments »

Volume 10, March 27, 2014 for the WSL Updates mailing list

Topics include:









How safe is your library? Do you have sufficient controls in place to protect your collections? Do you know what you should do to protect staff and patrons from harm? Come to next week’s First Tuesdays webinar, Security in the Library, where Brent Martin of First Response Consulting will share information on security as well as how to recognize someone under the influence. First Response Consulting specializes in teaching classes in First Aid, Defensive Tactics, and Firearms & Gun Safety in the Yakima area.

Designed as a continuing education opportunity for staff of libraries in Washington State, this free web presentation, which will take place on April 1, 2014, from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. PDT, lets attendees share their skills and successes and learn about new topics. Sessions are recorded so that others may listen at their own convenience. For more information about First Tuesdays, visit sos.wa.gov/q/tuesdays. For instructions on joining the presentation, visit sos.wa.gov/q/FirstTuesdays.



The American Association of School Librarians (AASL), a division of ALA, and ALA’s Office for Library Advocacy (OLA) seek stories about parents and students who advocate for their school libraries. Stories shared will help AASL and OLA spread examples of parent and/or student advocacy to stakeholders nationally.

Stories should demonstrate how students and parents value their school library program and the essential place it holds in developing lifelong learning. Stories may feature parents and students who have gone to extraordinary measures to save their school library program and their certified school librarian. Stories may also portray parents and students engaging in small acts of everyday advocacy in support of their school library program.

Stories may be submitted on the AASL website at www.ala.org/aasl/stories. The deadline for submission is April 11, 2014. AASL/OLA staff may follow-up for further information.



ALA now offers the “Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity” to recognize a librarian who “has faced adversity with integrity and dignity intact.” The $3,000 prize will be given from Snicket’s “disreputable gains, along with an odd, symbolic object from his private stash, as well as a certificate, which may or may not be suitable for framing.”

Lemony Snicket is the pen name of American novelist Daniel Handler, who has written several highly acclaimed children’s books. The books often feature the author appearing as a fictional character, a writer falsely accused of crimes and sought by his enemies as well as the police. Snicket himself believes that, in much the same spirit, librarians have suffered enough. It is his hope that, “The Snicket Prize will remind readers everywhere of the joyous importance of librarians and the trouble that is all too frequently unleashed upon them.”

The nominee must be a librarian. The deadline for candidates to be nominated for the first year is May 1. In subsequent years, the deadline will be Dec. 1. For additional information visit sos.wa.gov/q/snicket.



Libraries are living ecosystems that adapt, change, and innovate to remain relevant to their users, institutions, and the broader environment of higher education. To that end, academic librarians actively strive to build a sustainable world that fosters a creative, robust community of information generators and consumers. The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) 2015 Conference Committee invites proposals that contribute to the academic library ecosystem by sharing research and creative endeavors on the conference theme “Creating Sustainable Community.”

The ACRL 2015 conference will be held March 25-28, 2015, in Portland, Ore. Contributed paper, panel session, preconference, and workshop proposals are due May 9, 2014. Poster session, roundtable discussion, TechConnect, and Virtual Conference webcast proposals are due Nov. 3, 2014.

Complete details on ACRL 2015, including the full Call for Participation, may be found by visiting sos.wa.gov/q/acrl-2015. Questions should be directed to Margot Conahan at mconahan@ala.org 312.280.2522; or Tory Ondrla at tondrla@ala.org phone 312.280.2515.



ALA’s Office for Diversity seeks proposals for its Diversity Research Grant program. Applications may address any diversity topic—including the recruitment and promotion of diverse individuals within the profession or the provision of library services to diverse populations—which addresses critical gaps in the knowledge of diversity issues within library and information science.

The Diversity Research Grant consists of a one-time $2,500 award for original research. A jury of ALA members will evaluate proposals and can make up to three awards. Grant recipients will be announced ahead of the 2014 ALA Annual Conference and will be expected to compile the results of their research into a paper and to present and publish the final product in conjunction with the American Library Association within three months of completing their research.

The application deadline is April 30, 2014. Applicants must be current ALA members. For a complete list of the criteria, please visit: sos.wa.gov/q/diversity. Submissions should be submitted in a PDF or Word document attachment, and emailed to diversity@ala.org. To ask questions, or to inquire about possible research topics, e-mail diversity@ala.org or call 800.545.2433, ext. 5295.



Monday, March 31:

  • American Indian Libraries Initiative: Making Connections (IMLS/Department of the Interior, FEDLINK); 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. PDT: sos.wa.gov/q/IMLS31Mar;

Tuesday, April 1:

  • Mental Health First Aid (WSL); Richland Public Library, Richland, 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. PDT;
  • First Tuesdays: Security in the Library (WSL); 9:00 – 10:00 a.m. PDT; sos.wa.gov/q/FirstTuesdays
  • Have No Fear, Poetry is Here (Again!): Getting Children and Young Adults Excited about Poetry (Booklist); 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. PDT: sos.wa.gov/q/BL1Apr;
  • How To Create Eye-Catching Graphics For Your Nonprofit (Without Using Photoshop!) (4Good); 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. PDT: sos.wa.gov/q/4Good1AprPM;

Wednesday, April 2:

  • NCompass Live: Fizz, Boom, Read!: Summer Reading Program 2014 (NCompass Live); 8:00 – 9:00 a.m. PDT: sos.wa.gov/q/NComp2Apr;
  • “Small Bites” Learning (Training Magazine Network); 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. PDT: sos.wa.gov/q/TMNBites;
  • Getting ready for WorldCat Discovery (OCLC); 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. PDT: sos.wa.gov/q/OCLC2Apr;
  • When Crisis Threatens – How to Turn YOUR Organization Around (4Good); 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. PDT: sos.wa.gov/q/4Good2Apr;
  • Introduction to the ProQuest Platform (ProQuest); 10:00 – 10:45 a.m. PDT: sos.wa.gov/q/PQ1003;
  • Writing a Social Media Policy for Your Library (Infopeople); 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. PDT: sos.wa.gov/q/Info2Apr;
  • A Donor is a Terrible Thing to Lose: Secrets to Getting More and Bigger Gifts (4Good); 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. PDT: sos.wa.gov/q/4Good2AprPM;
  • Legal Reference for Information Professionals (WSL); 10:00 – 11:30 a.m. PDT;
  • Uncovering the Story behind the Headlines (Gale Cengage and Library Journal); 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. PDT: sos.wa.gov/q/LJ2Apr;

Thursday, April 3:

  • The Online Learner: Sinking or Swimming? (WebJunction); 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. PDT;

Friday, April 4:

For more information and to register (for those not linked above), visit the WSL Training Calendar at sos.wa.gov/q/training.


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Preserving the History and Culture of Washington State

April 1st, 2014 Rand Simmons Posted in Articles, For Libraries, For the Public, Library 21 Initiative, State Library Collections, Tribal No Comments »

From the desk of Brian Frisina

Washingtonians know the importance of preserving the history and culture of our great state.

Mr. Jackson is shown in the Illustrated History of Mason County, by Susan Olsen and Mary Randlette (1978) Additional information on Dick Jackson can be found in the rise and decline of the Olympia oyster, by E. N. Steele [Elma, Wash., Fulco Publications, 1957]

Mr. Jackson is shown in the Illustrated History of Mason County, by Susan Olsen and Mary Randlette (1978) Additional information on Dick Jackson can be found in the rise and decline of the Olympia oyster, by E. N. Steele [Elma, Wash., Fulco Publications, 1957]

One way to preserve our history is by supporting the Washington State Library. Established as a territorial library, the Washington Territorial Library was created by the Organic Act of 1853, which also created the Washington Territory. The Washington State Library is the oldest cultural institution in Washington State and its original collections were chosen by Governor Isaac Stevens, the first Territorial Governor, before he headed West from the East Coast.

Libraries play a very vital role in society. They provide access to both printed and online information, their collections preserve historical moments, and above all they are the stewards of the history and culture of society.

Libraries also provide people with free opportunities to learn through books, magazines, newspapers, and documents. These opportunities uplift our society and helps us to be the best human beings we can be.

I would like to take a moment and share my experience with the Washington State Library. I was working on a project that required digging deep into the history of the State, the history of the First People. I am interested in telling the story of Washington State through the eyes of the First People.

In my research I was looking for some rare images. One image I was looking for was of a person name Dick Jackson, from the Sqauxin Island Nation. Mr. Jackson played an important role in keeping his people from starving during the 1900s. The image on the right was preserved at the Washington State Library.

Through the collections of the Washington State and help from the staff I was able to locate the research material I needed. I share my story with you to highlight the Washington State Library and its role in preserving the history and culture of our great state.

Thank you Washington State Library.

Brian Frisina works at the Washington State Library branch in the Department of Labor and Industries, He is active in American Indian issues.

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