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 new and regular column will inform you about their work.
In the past several months, Lanny has focused on organizing the personal papers of Del McBride, Olympia-area historian and artist. She will be developing a finding aid to make this collection more readily accessible. Tim Ransom, Nisqually-area historian, observes that Lanny’s work will be an important asset to researchers and others who are interested in Native American history; the Nisqually delta; Del McBride and his collaborators at artist collective Klee Wyck; and Olympia-area history.
Deb has continued cataloguing photos from the State Capital Museum collection. To date, she has catalogued over 3,000 photographs. An interesting recent project involved a collection of glass negatives taken by pioneer, politician and historian Robert Esterly in late 1914. Mr. Esterly took photographs of local Olympia businesspeople standing in front of their establishments. This collection paints a fascinating and thorough picture of what downtown Olympia looked like around the time of the Carlyon fill. Although much of the fill was complete by then, it is interesting to note how many storefronts and other businesses backed up to waterfront. Also noteworthy is the ethnic and gender diversity of local businesses. These photographs have all been scanned, and are viewable on line. Clicking on this link and entering the keyword “esterly” (without quotes) will take you to a catalogue listing and thumbnail photographs which can be clicked to view images in greater detail.