Bulletin – 9/1/2020

September 1, 2020     


September 2020 marks 25 years since the official opening of the Bigelow House Museum. Please help support the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow Museum through our $25 for 25 Campaign! We had planned a special event, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic that won’t be happening, as the Bigelow House Museum is closed for the foreseeable future. In addition, we have had to make the difficult decision to cancel our biggest fundraiser, the annual Holiday Tour of Homes. In honor of the 25th anniversary of the Museum, and due to cancellation of fundraising events, we are asking our friends to consider an extra donation this year. We recognize that economic fallout from the pandemic may make this difficult for some. However, please do consider a $25.00 donation, or whatever amount you can give, to help ensure the future of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum. Click DONATE to give $25 or any other amount to this campaign, either by credit card or with your PayPal account. Or you can mail us a check; go to our Get Involved page for more information. If you are not yet a member of the Society and Museum, please consider visiting our  Membership Page and joining now! And, while OHS&BHM fully supports area businesses, we realize that many are finding local shopping difficult in these trying times. If you are an Amazon customer, please consider donating to OHS&BHM through Amazon’s SMILE program. Information can be found at SMILE. We also partner with Fred Meyer, and Ralph’s/Bayview Thriftway charitable donation programs. Information is available at the Get Involved link, above.


Sylvester’s Window is a nonprofit, educational project that teaches local history through a series of cityscapes created by artist Robert Chamberlain, all drawn from the same perspective: the tower window of Edmund Sylvester’s home in Downtown Olympia. Growing up in Tenino, Chamberlain was drawn to art from an early age, stating in an interview “As a kid in school, I drew pictures instead of doing my class work.” His art appears across Washington, from office walls to coffee mugs. Sylvester’s Window, created between 2000 and 2004, is considered to be Chamberlain’s most significant work. By arrangement with the creator of the project, Lynn Erickson, the Olympia Historical Society and  Bigelow House Museum has posted the eight cityscapes, as well as extensive educational materials and research on our website. The materials are fully word-searchable and a rich source of information about Olympia’s history. The reproductions and materials are made possible by special arrangement with Ms. Erickson. Launch your visit here: Sylvester’s Window.  Originals are displayed at the Olympia branch of Timberland Library. Please respect copyrights; for permission to use any and all materials from this project, contact OHS&BHM at olyhistory@gmail.com.
While COVID-19 appears to be plateauing in some areas of Washington, many sites remain closed, and it’s a good idea to CALL BEFORE GOING. Remaining home whenever possible continues to be the best course of action to limit the spread in the Evergreen State. If you need a little inspiration for that during these trying times, give a listen to this prescient tune by British singer songwriter Richard Thompson, from nearly thirty years ago  Keep Your Distance. Click the arrow on that page to play.



  • Washington State Historical Society’s New Head of Collections Asks That You Help Document COVID-19 in the Evergreen State.

Margaret Wetherbee hit the ground running at the Washington State Historical Society, joining the organization days after its buildings closed due to COVID-19 safety protocols. A fifth-generation Washingtonian, her passion for the stories of the Evergreen State began at a young age. Wetherbee has worked as a collections professional at the Fort Nisqually Living History Museum in Tacoma, the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, the Riverside Metropolitan Museum in Riverside, CA and others.  “I’m reaching out to citizens across the state to ask for their participation in documenting this historic event for the Historical Society’s collections. We want to capture what you’re going through right now as it unfolds, because this is an extraordinary time in our history. We will continue to collect as we experience the impacts over the coming years.” Washington’s coronavirus history will be notable as one of the first pandemic hot spots in the United States. The Historical Society’s director, Jennifer Kilmer, remarked, “Future Washingtonians will research these days, asking how we coped with the suddenly vacated office buildings, curtailed services, and medical supply shortages. They’ll want to know how this event impacted our lives on a personal level. Just as we are now looking to the 1918 flu epidemic for insight into our present experience, folks in the future will want to know about our Stay Home/Stay Healthy protocol, and how we managed to come together to help one another.” The Historical Society is asking for digital content including (but not limited to) photographs, audio and video clips, screenshots of social media memes or posts, reports, correspondence, observations and anecdotes. The Historical Society would also like physical objects and ephemera (homemade masks, coronavirus closure notices, decals, diaries, letters, etc.) but asks that you gather and save objects until their Research Center reopens. For details, visit Collecting the COVID-19 Experience .

  • Washington State History Museum – IN THE SPIRIT Contemporary Native Arts Exhibition, Northwest Native Festival and Virtual Arts Market. 

IN THE SPIRIT is an annual celebration of diverse Native arts and culture. This event traditionally honors the artists whose work has been selected for the IN THE SPIRIT Contemporary Native Arts Exhibition, which was unable to be exhibited this year in-museum due to COVID-19, but you can view the Virtual Exhibition online. There will also be an IN THE SPIRIT Virtual Arts Marketplace featuring talented emerging artists and your favorite vendors who normally sell their creations during the festival, which will go live on September 10. Visit In the Spirit Contemporary Native Arts for details and schedule.

  • September 5. South Sound Maritime Heritage Association – Scaled-Down, Virtual Olympia Harbor Days Event.   

In 1974, the tugboats and crews of the Puget Sound returned to the beautiful waterfront of Olympia to celebrate the end of the summer season. This gathering was the start of Olympia Harbor Days, an annual FREE family festival dedicated to the community as a celebration of maritime heritage. In 1978 , Harbor Fair, an arts, crafts, food and music festival, was added. Today, Olympia Harbor Days is the third largest festival in Thurston County and home of the World’s Largest Vintage Tugboat Races, attracting over 55,000 visitors annually, featuring 300+ booths, ships, activities, music and food. Touring the tugboats and watching them race remains the highlight of the festival, something “kids” young and old never seem to grow tired of. Due to COVID-19, this year’s event will be LITE, with virtual content ranging from self guided tours along the Percival Landing Boardwalk to an instructional video on creating tugboats out of LEGO! For more information, visit Olympia Harbor Days.

  • September 10. Nisqually Health Department 2nd Annual Walk for Hope, Life is Precious Suicide Prevention Event.   

COVID-19 has profound impacts beyond the physical. Social isolation, anxiety, fear of contagion, uncertainty, chronic stress and economic difficulties may lead to the development or worsening of depressive, anxiety, substance use and other psychiatric disorders, including suicide. Addressing the issue of suicide has never been more timely. Visit Suicide Prevention for more information about this virtual event.

  • September 14, 7:00 PM. Tacoma Historical Society September Virtual Meeting.

Join THS for their September virtual meeting, which will be shared as a live broadcast on both Youtube  and Facebook at 7 PM on Monday, September 14. The featured speaker will be board president Bill Baarsma, who will share some of his extensive research into Tacoma’s political history with the presentation: The Great Tacoma Recall Election of September 15, 1970, and How it Transformed Tacoma Politics. The meeting will also include the presentation of Tacoma Historical Society’s annual awards, recognizing significant contributions to Tacoma history in a variety of areas. Be sure to tune in to be the first to learn who will be presented with our Murray Morgan Award, Alan C. Liddle Award, and Ronald E. Magden Award!

  • September 17, 8:00 AM to September 19, 7:00 PM. Harbor History Museum – History Rocks! Online Auction.  

Join the Museum on Saturday, September 19th, at 6:30 PM for a live stream of their auction program, complete with bidding opportunities and a look at the past 10 years and a peek at what’s to come in the next decade! The auction is the Museum’s biggest fundraiser of the year,  and it needs your support during these challenging times. Today’s stories are the history of tomorrow and the funds raised during History Rocks will help maintain these legacies for the future.  Contributions during History Rocks help to support student educational outreach through the Midway School Program, new virtual programming for students who cannot attend programs in residence, the restoration of the Shenandoah, and the documentation and preservation of our communities’ rich and dynamic stories. This event is FREE and open to the public. For questions, please contact Robin Harrison, Operations and Marketing Manager, at operations@harborhistorymuseum.org. You may Click Here to register.

  • September 21, 6:00 PM. Lacey Museum – History Talks! Washington Suffragists: Ahead of Their Time.  

Although 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the federal 19th amendment giving women the right to vote, Washington women won the vote a decade earlier in 1910. Well-known local historian Shanna Stevenson will discuss the history of suffrage in Washington State. Her presentation will include the fascinating tale of local women who played a major role in the movement as well as the pioneering women who were political leaders of Thurston County. This VIRTUAL EVENT will take place Via ZOOM. To register for this free online event, visit Lacey Museum Webinar

  • September 25 – 27, 1:00, 5:00 & 7:00 PM. Nisqually Indian Tribe – Annual Wellbriety Pow-Wow.   

Join the Nisqually Nation for their 20th Annual Wellbriety Pow-Wow! This event is open to  Nisqually tribal members, the tribal community and the general public.

Event dates and times include:
           25th: Coastal Jam 5 PM.
           26th: Grand Entry 1 PM & 7 PM.
           27th: Grand Entry 1 PM.
Where: Nisqually Youth and Community Center
Master of Ceremonies: Sonny Eaglespeaker & Casey Wallahee
Arena Director: Buchanan Wallahee
Host Drum: Creekside
Head Man Dancer: Melvin Blacketer
Head Woman Dancer: Bridget Eaglespeaker
For vendor space/table and royalty context information please contact: Daydishka McCloud at 360-456-5221, ext. 1239. This event is taking place at the Nisqually Youth and Community Center, located at 1937 Lashi St. S.E. in Olympia.

  • September 26, 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM. Historic Fort Steilacoom (Lakewood): Fall Living History Open House & Annual Used Book Sale.  

Experience life at a fort in the Pacific Northwest!  Living historians in period dress will demonstrate daily activities of soldiers at a 19th Century fort and host guided tours of the historic structures.  Taking place at Quarters 1, 2, 3, and 4 from 10 AM to 4 PM. Additionally, the book sale will be held in Quarters 2 those same hours.  Get terrific bargains on a wide variety of books!  Complimentary admission, but donations are always appreciated. Historic Fort Steilacoom is located on the grounds of Western State Hospital at 9601 Steilacoom Blvd. SW, Lakewood. 253-582-5838.

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