1936 Yakima

We are working on the preservation program in Yakima, the place I grew up and my family landed after working the mines in Butte like so many other Irish immigrants. This post from September 9, 2014 goes with my thoughts these days.

I’m headed over to Yakima tomorrow via Chinook Pass on one of those late summer journeys that takes you into the riches of harvest time. Tonight I discovered riches of another kind, a trove of documentary photographs that capture a time of struggle and courage in our state. These are compelling photographs by Dorothea Lange, Athur Rothstein, and other documentarians of the New Deal.

If you wonder about the era of the Great Depression and how it shaped Washington State you will be spellbound by the black and white images in this data base created by Yale University and just opened to researchers.

Take a moment to look into the face of this beautiful young woman, poised in the soft light that washes the inside of the tent that is her home. She has migrated to the Yakima valley with her family, where the long harvest season of 1936 provides a meager means of support picking fruit and a glimmer of hope for a better future. She is surrounded by a simple open air kitchen and the most basic of utilitarian possessions , probably everything she and her family own . But there is no defeat or embarrassment in her gaze. She will make the future we live in here today in Washington State.



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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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