We are often asked what is our oldest book?
The Spring 2016 edition of Heritage Highlights is now available! In this issue, we explore themes of social justice and activism on campus and in the community, including anti-racism campagins, peace advocacy, care for the environment, and more.
Heritage Resources is a division of Western Libraries which includes the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies, Special Collections, and University Archives & Records Management.
Image: Joining Hands Against Hate symbol and slogan, courtesy of Arbeit Graphics, available in the Whatcom Human Rights Task Force records at CPNWS.
Using Archives to Enhance Teaching & Learning
How can media history inform our understanding of our current moment? What is the role of media in the construction of identity, social hierarchies, and our understanding of power? Recognizing that archival and primary source materials provide evidence that can help answer these kinds of questions, Professor Helen Morgan Parmett decided to experiment by integrating an upper-class research and writing assignment with resources at the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies (CPNWS), a division of Western Libraries Heritage Resources.
Last quarter students from Professor Morgan Parmett’s Communications Studies 416 class, “Cultural History of Media and Identity,” spent several hours at the CPNWS to review a variety of primary source archival materials in their consideration of the intersections between cultural history, media, and identity formation.
This was the first time many of these students had ever worked directly with archival materials, and CPNWS staff sought to provide contrasting examples of locally-produced media by also including materials that spoke to the experiences, interests, and voices of traditionally under-represented individuals and groups. For example, in addition to exploring historic issues of more mainstream publications such as the Bellingham Herald, students also examined the Northwest Passage, an alternative newspaper produced from 1969-1986, as well as a range of newsletters and educational materials produced by women’s organizations and LGBTA+ advocacy groups.
Heritage Resources Assistant Archivist for Outreach and Instruction Roz Koester helped facilitate the inquiry process by asking students to consider not just the materials in front of them, but to also think about what was not kept.
"Since we so often rely on written documentation to provide evidence of our shared cultural heritage, it's important to be aware that there are stories and experiences that remain untold,” explained Koester. “A lot of records don't get preserved, so, as researchers, you need to not only be thinking about the information that's available in the resources you're using, but also what might be missing. And we should all be thinking about how we can engage those hidden voices in order to preserve a more complete picture of our history."
As a required component of their research and writing assignment, students were expected to contribute to the scholarship of media history and identity found in secondary literature by constructing an original argument based on archival evidence of media influence on the construction Pacific Northwest identities.
Professor Morgan Parmett hopes that through this assignment, her students will develop a greater understanding not only of media history, but also of where we are now and how we are currently using media. She emphasized how we can learn much about today by considering the media histories of the past:
“For one, they disillusion us from the idea that things have always been a certain way by demonstrating the conflicts, debates, and struggles out of which our current moment emerged,” explained Professor Morgan Parmett. “These histories illuminate the fact that many of the debates we currently have about media and its societal effects are, in fact, not new. Seeing how these debates were resolved in earlier periods may provide insights for how we might move forward into our media futures in more socially just ways.”
Heritage Resources is a division of Western Libraries which includes Special Collections, the University Archives & Records Management, and the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies. Together these units provide for the responsible stewardship of unique and archival materials in support of teaching, learning, and research. For more information about how Heritage Resources supports the research needs of students and educators, contact Heritage.Resources@wwu.edu.
Cuneiform is a system of writing first developed by the ancient Sumerians of Mesopotamia c. 3500-3000 BCE. It is considered the most significant among the many cultural contributions of the Sumerians. The "writing" consists of "wedge-shaped" characters, or pictographs, that represent a language.
The Mezuzah scroll, tucked in a case and posted on a doorway, designates a home or business as Jewish. It follow the biblical command found in Deuteronomy 6:9 and 11:20 to "write them (the commandments) on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."
The Library of Julio Santo Domingo, now on loan to Harvard's Houghton Library adn the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, is possibly the greatest collection of books, posters, pamphlets, letters, photographs, ephemera and realia dedicated to altered states of consciousness achieved through drugs, art, sex, magic and rock and roll.
The 2015-2016 Fall/Winter issue of Heritage Highlights is now available! In this issue, we explore various forms of writing for, about and by children, as evidenced in the collections of Western Libraries Heritage Resources. Featured holdings include songbooks and sports booklets from Western's days as a normal school for teachers, the papers of noted children's author and illustrator Doris Burn, and rare items in the Poetry for Children and Teens collection.
Heritage Resources is a division of Western Libraries which includes the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies, Special Collections, and the University Archives & Records Management. Together these programs provide for responsible stewardship of unique and archival materials in support of teaching, learning, and research.
Image: rare item from the Poetry for Children and Teens collection, housed in Special Collections.
Washington Rural Heritage Grant Award
Thanks to a $5,000 Washington Rural Heritage Grant, Western Libraries will be digitizing the correspondence, photographs, sketches, and papers of three prominent Pacific Northwest artists: Guy Anderson, Charles Stokes and Louis Mideke.
Once digitized, this content will be added to Heritage Resources’ digital collections, as well as the Washington Rural Heritage website, making these materials publicly available for use in research, teaching and private study.
Julia Sapin, chair of Western’s Art department, noted the significance of obtaining the Anderson materials.
“Guy Anderson was a leading figure in the Northwest School of painting and drew attention to this region through his form of abstract expressionism,” Sapin said. “It is a boon to our library’s collection to have this esteemed gift among its offerings, and Western students, as well as students and scholars from across the country, will be able to make use of this resource and increase their understanding of Anderson’s practice and community.”
Western Libraries Heritage Resources is partnering on the project with the Museum of Northwest Art in LaConner and the LaConner Public Library System. Washington Rural Heritage is a collaborative digitization program headquartered at the Washington State Library that brings together unique local history materials from libraries, museums and the private collections of citizens across Washington State.
The Beginnings of PNW Literature
Laura Laffrado, an award-winning Professor of English at Western Washington University, will discuss her recent research project focused on early-twentieth century author Ella Higginson on Tuesday, October 27th, from 4:00pm-5:30pm in Special Collections at Western Libraries.
During this presentation, Laffrado will explain how her project to recover the fascinating writings of forgotten Pacific Northwest writer Ella Rhoads Higginson began in Western Libraries Heritage Resources’ collections and ultimately led to the publication of her recent book, Selected Writings of Ella Higginson: Inventing Pacific Northwest Literature.
Noted writer and Washington state Poet Laureate Ella Higginson (1861-1940) moved to the town of Sehome (now Bellingham) in 1888, at which time her writing career began to flourish. Higginson was deeply concerned with community and civic affairs, including issues affecting women such as female education and the institution of marriage, and she helped establish Bellingham’s first public reading room and library.
Higginson’s poetry and short stories were published nationally by journals including McClures, Harper's Monthly, and Colliers, and her best known work, a poem entitled "Four Leaf Clover," was published by West Shore Magazine in 1890. Laffrado’s book shines a spotlight on this once widely-known and celebrated author, helping to restore Higginson as a significant voice in American Literature.
This special talk is being offered as a “Heritage Resources Distinguished Speakers” program. These quarterly events are free and open to the public, and feature presenters who are authorities in their respective fields who have used Heritage Resources collections significantly in their research.
For more information about this event, please contact Western Libraries Special Collections Manager, Tamara.Belts@wwu.edu
Intersession Hours & Entrance Information
Western Libraries will be open during the intersession August 24, 2015 – September 23, 2015 Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 4:30pm, (closed weekends). Please note that the Wilson Library north entrance to the library will be closed during intersession, but the library will be accessible via the Haggard Hall entrance. Western Libraries will re-open the north doors on Tuesday, September 15th, and resume regular hours when fall quarter classes begin on Thursday, September 24, 2015.
Special Collections: Closed August 31st – September 11th
Map Collection: Closed August 24th – September 18th
Center for Pacific Northwest Studies: Closed August 25th – September 8th
Music Library: Closed August 31st - Sept 18th
Zoe’s Bookside Bagels: Closed August 22nd - September 20th