Louis Agassiz was a Harvard zoologist and earth scientist who is credited with discovering that the earth was once frozen in an ice age. His genius was unassailable in Victorian America and Stanford was not the only University to immortalize him in a statue (on the Zoology Building in Stanford’s case). For all of his intellectual rigor, the guy floated some fairly zany notions about humans and animals springing from multiple pools of creation and a world without natural selection or evolved genetics. So there is just something very funny to me about a statue of an earth scientist head planted into the ground after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Even funnier was Stanford president David Starr Jordan’s quip that “Agassiz was great in the abstract but not in the concrete”.

Written by tacomahistory

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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