The Daring Miss Dobbs

Pictures and places tell such lovely stories together. “Terroir” is the French term for the taste of a place and in this photo there is the flavor of cold sea salt, sweet adventure and warm soft fur. Here is the daring Miss Dobbs visiting a windswept Inuit village on the Bering Sea in 1906. The little fellow in her care enjoys a wealth of playthings, a ball in his hand, a woven high-kick ball (aqsraatchaun) in her arms and a toy Siberian bolo for bird hunting. Inside the stiff walrus hide shelter, with its roof cover and ground skirt held tightly down by rocks and driftwood, he could listen by seal oil lamplight to the storytellers and their fantastic legends of mythic sea creatures, pure white time travel and the clicking songs of aurora borealis. When he grew up and sat on his bed of otter and bear skins surrounded by small wide eyes, he no doubt had an almost unbelievable tale of his own about a giant woman who appeared from nowhere in his island world and then disappeared. And for those who didn’t believe the story… perhaps she sent him a copy of this picture

.Alaska girl

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This site is about the way history, in this case of a city and it's surrounds, is remembered or recorded in stories and small bits of memory. It's also about the way images and stories go together, how they inform and enrich each other and how we as thinking people fill in the content between a narrative and a visual document. So here is my city in time past, the way it looked and the people and events that create its character. For more than 20 years I have taught a 5 credit course on the History of Tacoma at the University of Washington Tacoma. With an average of 30 or 40 students a year, each doing a research paper as their primary focus for the course, I have benefited from many paths of inquiry and many researched and assembled stories. Here are some of them in the retelling along with the treasures of photographs and images in the collections of the Washington State Historical Society, Tacoma Public Library, University of Washington Digital Archives, Washington State Archives at the Office of the Secretary of State, Library of Congress, Washington State University, Alaska State Library, and many other archives, libraries and private collections.

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