Something timeless about work–the simple tasks we take on with familiarity and reserve never really thinking about the art and design in most human endeavors. Here is a nameless blacksmith from the Puget Sound Lumber Company in 1920. Look at the complexity of his surroundings, the powerful sense of competency in his posture and the astute expression of a person with profound knowledge in his hands. Technology may evolve, our surroundings will drift but in honest work there is something timeless.

Things have changed in the way we think about social status and meaningful work. We too often measure success in accumulated monetary wealth or political influence not considering how it is accumulated or gained. For a moment this blacksmith waits between strikes with a red hot iron bar on his anvil and a long handled hammer in his hand. The passage of time may challenge my perspective but I see a rich man.


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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.

1 comment

  1. Love this photo and your tribute to the working man. I have a similar pic of my great grandpa in his blacksmith shop in Puyallup! 🙂


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