www://World Wide Wonder


Atlas meets Archimedes through the lens of Asahel Curtis. What an elegant moment of pure wonder from May 1914 at Summit School in Seattle. Think about how that globe has changed in the 100 years since that boy puzzled over its geography and imagined its distances in days and months of travel. Sure, he has been posed by the photographer and the boy at his desk is probably more awkward about having his picture taken than he is skeptical about big questions of science and geopolitics. Still the photo tells a story, like a Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post cover or a meme on Instagram, about the way curiosity is learned and great adventures float right in front of us. On his tablet in pencil the boy has likely just imagined himself on a long voyage across an ocean.  I’m going to hit the “Post” button now and this intense, thoughtful study will circle the world faster that the shutter speed of glass plate view camera.

Curtis globe boy

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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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