Deb Ross

On a weekly basis, Members Lanny Weaver and Deb Ross catalogue the State Capital Museum collection now housed at the Washington State Historical Society (WSHS) in Tacoma. This project is made possible through a collaboration between the Olympia Historical Society and WSHS, and Deb and Lanny are grateful for the time and cooperation of the WSHS and Research Center staff in making this possible. This regular column will inform you about their work.

Staff of the Washington Standard, image courtesy of Washington State Historical Society

The Research Center of the Washington State Historical Society includes accession information in all of its catalogued items. The accession information includes the name of the donor and the year that the item was donated or sold to the Society. But occasionally the Research Center finds objects in its collection for which incomplete accession information is available. In these cases the item is given a miscellaneous number that indicates the date the item was catalogued. Such was the case with catalogue item C2013.18.15, reproduced here. It’s an early photograph of the staff of the Washington Standard, the longtime publication of John Miller Murphy. The WSHS knows that the item was acquired for the State Capitol Museum by curator Bernice Sapp, but not the date or the name of the original donor. The first thing one notices about this photo is that half of the staff were women. Murphy was an ardent supporter of women’s suffrage, and women’s rights in general. His daughter Winnie is included in the staff photograph at right. To her right (our left) is Verona Baldwin. According to George Blankenship’s account Lights and Shades of Pioneer Life on Puget Sound, Verona married a distant cousin, the wealthy Lucky Baldwin, and later shot him (he survived). Next to Verona is Mary Shelton. Mary was the daughter of David Shelton, founder of the city of Shelton. She was a co-founder of the Women’s Club of Olympia, the first women’s club in the west. Melvina Hartsock, next to Mary, was a member of the pioneer Hartsock family, arriving from Iowa at the same time as the Shelton family. I was not able to find out more information about Fanny Eberhart, the woman at the far left of the image.

Among the men are John Miller Murphy in the center, here appearing much younger than most other existing photographs of the famous publisher; his young son Henry; future Secretary of State and prominent historian Allen Weir; and printer Thomas Tallentire, another very early arrival in Washington Territory.