Its the fourth anniversary of this TacomaHistory wordpress blog and the characters, events and stories from our city’s past continue to surface and supply our imagination. In 2019 we posted 23 stories to a new total of 339 and had 100, 293 views added to a total of more than 350,000 since launch. This year we dove a bit deeper into a couple of compelling stories, the courtroom drama around the Yamamoto family legacy in the 1920’s and the influence of Beaux-Arts design on Tacoma’s architectural character (in celebration of the opening of McMenamin’s Elks Temple). We continued to chase the mystery of an unidentified photographer in the Clear As Glass Series from a collection of glass plate negatives at the Washington State Historical Society and began to look closer at other assemblages of images, photographs, post cards and objects that trace the history of our region.

As we have each year, we want to take a moment and recognize the vital role the Tacoma Public Library, Washington State Historical Society, University of Washington Digital Collections, HistoryLink and many other public archives play in telling our shared stories and understanding our collective past. I’m not sure wisdom or the better aspects of human nature are ever easy to recognize or find but if we want to go searching I think our shared history is a good place to start. It’s why we have memory, recollection, libraries and the stories we tell each other.

In this new year and decade some things to watch for on this site are more film and media, a dive into the riches of the Richards photography collection of more than 500k images at the Tacoma Public Library and more on the architectural built environment of Tacoma. We have also become fascinated with orphaned photo albums and the stories hidden inside. Found in junk shops, estate sales and family attics, these black paged albums full of armature snapshots and tourist portraits are the selfies and phone pics of their day and they record the real life times of our history. A closer look can be revealing indeed.

Thanks for following and if you have a comment, lead or object of interest to share it will certainly be appreciated.

The most popular new stories last year were:

The Legacy

Merchants, 1925

WRECK, A Short Story…..

The Hiroshimaya

The Crossing

Beaux-Arts Bones, Part 1 & 2

Japantown, Clear as Glass

Stenger’s Remarkable Cards

A Piece of the World

Friends in High Places

Written by

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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