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"Viva la California!" - Gold Rush Letters Online

Posted on: December 20, 2011

Topic(s): Resources, Updates

Digital content from the papers of M. L. (Marc La Riviere) Stangroom is now available online as part of Western Libraries’ Digital Collections. Born in England in 1832, Stangroom travelled to America as a young man, where he engaged in railroad surveying work and mining speculation in California and the Sierra Nevadas. In 1888, at the request of railroad magnate Pierre Cornwall, Stangroom moved to Bellingham, Washington to assist in building the Bellingham Bay and British Columbia railway.

The new online collection includes digital copies and transcripts of correspondence from Stangroom to family members about his travels and experiences from 1855 through 1873. These handwritten letters provide extensive and fascinating detail of his early life and career, and vivid descriptions of western landscapes including California redwood forests and the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Stangroom documents gold prospecting efforts, life in the mining town of Michigan Bluff (Placer County, California), and interactions between white settlers and the Native American population. A June 1858 letter describes how Californians are driven “stark raving mad” by the lure of gold in British Columbia, with hundreds of men leaving daily for the Fraser River. Stangroom’s letters also reveal aspects of his personal and family life, including his courtship and marriage.

Section of letter with illustration.

Illustrated portion of a December 2, 1855 letter by M.L. Stangroom.

The online collection includes full-text, searchable transcripts of all letters, a 16 page reminiscence by Stangroom about his life (also transcribed), and a fifteen-page report about the construction of the Bellingham Bay & British Columbia Railroad. Completed in 1891, the BB&BC Railroad provided a rail connection from Bellingham to Sumas and the transcontinental Canadian Pacific Railway.

The original and larger collection of Stangroom papers is archived and available at WWU’s Center for Pacific Northwest (CPNWS). A complete guide to the collection is available online.

Additional CPNWS holdings on the Bellingham Bay & British Columbia Railroad include corporate records of the Bellingham Bay Improvement Company. Related images are available in the Bruce Cheever Railroad Photograph Collection and through the online CPNWS Photo Database.


Read more: "Viva la California!" - Gold Rush Letters Online


Historic footage of fishing operations

Posted on: November 28, 2011

Topic(s): Resources, Updates

This 1958 film shows the use and impact of fish traps and set nets as part of commercial fishing operations in Clam Gulch, Alaska. The footage was captured originally on 16mm film by Rubin R. Tikka, and later donated to WWU's Center for Pacific Northwest Studies.

 

The history of fish, fishing and the use of commercial fish traps in the Pacific Northwest is surrounded by conflict and controversy. Use of fish traps or other "fixed appliances for catching salmon and other fish" was banned in Washington State in 1935 following voter passage of Initiative 77 the previous year. Fish traps were not outlawed in Alaska until Alaskan statehood (1959) - very shortly after this footage was captured.

Western Libraries' Heritage Resources programs offer a wide range of archival and other resources about fish and fishing. These include materials documenting commercial fisheries, Native American fishing and treaty rights, and fly fishing. See this Research Guide or Contact CPNWS or Special Collections for additional information.


Read more: Historic footage of fishing operations


Newsletter from CPNWS

Posted on: October 29, 2011

Topic(s): Newsletters, Updates

Read the latest about archival collections, web portals and other goings-on in the latest newsletter from CPNWS.


Read more: Newsletter from CPNWS


Aerial Photographs Available at CPNWS

Posted on: October 25, 2011

Topic(s): Updates

A collection of over 30,000 aerial photographs, formerly at Huxley Map Library, is now housed at the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies. The collection includes images from aerial surveys of significant portions of Washington State and beyond, including this state's Northwestern counties and National Forest lands.

Aerial photo taken during survey for the AL-CAN Highway, circa 1930s.

Image taken during aerial surveys for the AL-CAN Highway, circa 1930s.

The bulk of the images date around 1938-1990, and were captured during surveys for government agencies such the USDA Forest Service or Washington Department of Natural Resources.

The Collection of Aerial Photographs is open to the public, although we recommend that researchers contact CPNWS in advance about their area(s) of interest and/or to set up an appointment. While staff are working presently to further catalog the collection, a preliminary listing of holdings is available in this LibGuide to the Collection.


Read more: Aerial Photographs Available at CPNWS


KVOS Julian Bond Images Appear in "The Mountaintop"

Posted on: October 20, 2011

Topic(s): Updates

In May of 1967, the Western campus received a visit from Julian Bond, then 27 years of age and a prominent civil rights activist, anti-war spokesperson and elected State Senator in Georgia. Interviewed outside Old Main for local TV by Political Science Professor and Chair Manfred Vernon and Duayne Trecker of KVOS, Bond shared his views on issues including the war in Vietnam, poverty, race relations and the civil rights movement.

Visitors to Broadway can now see still images from this interview as part of a photo montage shown in the current production of Katori Hall’s “The Mountaintop.” Starring Samuel L. Jackson (as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) and Angela Bassett, this play presents a “re-imagining” of events on April 3, 1968, the evening prior to Dr. King’s assassination.

Footage from the Julian Bond interview and other 1960s KVOS films are archived at WWU’s Center for Pacific Northwest Studies, with several available online as part of Western Libraries’ Digital Collections. Researchers interested in the civil rights era may also wish to view KVOS interviews with James Farmer, founder and leader of the Congress of Racial Equality, and the comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory.


Read more: KVOS Julian Bond Images Appear in "The Mountaintop"


Student Newspaper Digital Collection

Posted on: October 20, 2011

Topic(s):

Western FrontSpecial Collections has passed the half-way mark in completing the digitization of the WWU student newspaper.  Western has had a student newspaper from 1899, the first year of the university.  From 1899 to 1950 is now available online in the WWU Student Newspaper Digital Collection. 

Lesley Lowery, who is helping to get the paper online, enjoys seeing the news stories from the past.  "It's a lot of fun to get into, to get a feeling for the stories behind the names on buildings on campus I see everyday."  Lesley has discovered that the student newspaper reported on different events long ago, "They had proms and dances every weekend, the social theme was much more important then."

Discover the past for yourself, browsing through the old issues of the student newspaper, and check back for more recent issues coming soon. 


Read more: Student Newspaper Digital Collection


Skagitonian Peace and Anti-Nuclear Records Archived at CPNWS

Posted on: August 19, 2011

Topic(s): Updates

Interested in the history of regional peace movements or responses to nuclear power?

Newly-archived records of the group Skagitonians Concerned About Nuclear Plants (SCANP) document the 1970s grass-roots opposition to a proposal to build a nuclear power plant near Sedro-Woolley in Skagit County. After considerable controversy and debate, Skagit County voters rejected this proposal by ballot in 1979. This collection of SCANP records was donated recently to the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies by former member Debbie Aldrich, and is a fine addition to campus-wide historical collections documenting regional peace and other types of community activism. The collection also includes archival materials from the group Skagit Citizens for Nuclear Disarmament, the Skagit Peace Education Fund, and papers and posters documenting the annual "Magic Skagit" music festival.

Visit this online guide or contact CPNWS to find out more about the records of SCANP and other community organizations in Whatcom and Skagit County, as well as other holdings about nuclear and energy issues. Some related collections at CPNWS include:

More primary sources about the proposed nuclear power plant can be located in "Nuclear Power Plant Rezone Files" among Skagit County Planning Department records at the Washington State Archives (NW Branch). Papers from SCANP founder Helen Day are archived at the University of Washington.

Poster for the 1979 "Magic Skagit" Festival.  

1979 Poster from the Skagitonians Concerned About Nuclear Plant Records,

Center for Pacific Northwest Studies.


Read more: Skagitonian Peace and Anti-Nuclear Records Archived at CPNWS


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