Farewell My Lovely

Sometimes the photos and captions from the image archive at the Tacoma Public Library just can’t be improved upon and need no additional comment. Here is a great example.


Description: On Thursday morning May 9, 1940 at 5 minutes after 9 a.m., 21 year old bookkeeper Emma Olsen foiled a daring attempt to rob the State Bank of Orting. This is a recreation of the event, with a reporter standing in for robbery suspect Kenneth Elliot Ambler. The marks on the window show where the bandit tried to hammer the shatter proof glass with his weapon. Feeling safe behind steel faced bullet proof walls and the shatter proof glass, Miss Olsen threw an electric switch locking the inner and outer doors and then covered the outlaw with a gun shoved through the steel armored “port hole” built for that purpose. She was so admired by the community for her calm actions, that she received fan mail, a marriage proposal and an honorary membership in the Tacoma Pistol Club. (T. Times 5/9/1940 p.1; 5/15/1940, pg. 3)

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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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