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News from the OSOS Blog
Stories from the Archives...

The Office of the Secretary of State routinely updates a blog entitled "From Our Corner,"  in order to provide from-the-source information about important state news and public services.  Often, stories of note from the Archives are included on this page.

Myths in Records Management

As business becomes increasingly digital and amasses ever-increasing numbers of records, the tasks before our records managers seem daunting.  Our team of experts can make these seemingly overwhelming tasks much more manageable!

To date we've covered
   the first nine myths in records management.

And now, without further ado, we bring you the final myth in records management.

Speaking of Records Management, Training Opportunities for State & Local Government are available.
Who said that?  

"We are embarked as pioneers upon a new science and industry in which our problems are so new and unusual that it behooves no one to dismiss any novel idea with the statement that 'it can't be done!'"

Find the answer  here!

This same person also said,

"We have already proved that science and hard work can lick what appear to be insurmountable difficulties." 
Legacy WA proudly presents its Washington Remembers WWII Project
This three part project includes online stories with individual veterans; Faces of Heroes page, where the public can share a photo of their WWII veteran; and an upcoming exhibit in August.

"Personal accounts from the deadliest conflict in world history teach us about sacrifice, freedom and who we are today.  With the deepest gratitude, I thank the men and women who fought for our country in World War II.  I invite you to hear their powerful stories as we mark the 70th anniversary of the conflict's end."

both voted among the best in the Nation for state genealogy websites
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Banner Image: Memorial Day Celebration, undated, A M Kendrick, Photographer, A M Kendrick Collection, Washington State Archives.  

May 2015
Staring into the Belly of the Beast - Flying over Mt. Saint Helens
Contributed by Steve Excell, Washington State Archivist

While working for Governor John Spellman, we had to deal with managing public access to the Mt. Saint Helens area and reducing the serious flood risk downstream.  Federal, state and local agencies all worked closely together to address both issues.

In the early 19 80s, the volcano was still very active, building a huge lava dome in the crater and venting steam and gases.

Seared into my brain are the memories of my visiting Mt. Saint Helens aboard a Washington National Guard Huey helicopter.  Yes, I brought my camera with me.
Let me start at the beginning...
Photo Challenge   
Presented by Mary Hammer, Digital Projects Archivist

This dashing mustachioed fellow was very likely a member of Washington's 1881 Senate Council, but we don't know which one!  That year, the Council included James Wallace, Steven Hovey, J.W. Graden, Samuel Calhoun, Elwood Evans, Jacob Hoover, John H. Long, Amash Miller, Benjamin Sharpstein, Horace Stratton, and George Hunter.  Do you have some knowledge that would help us identify which Council member he might have been?  If so, contact us!
The OWL Party and the 1976 election--the joke that changed Washington politics

Contributed by Kathy Perciful     
L-R: Jack Perciful, Treasurer; Red Kelley, Governor; Don Ober, Commission for Public Lands
Photo courtesy Kathy Perciful 
It was after hours at Tumwater's liveliest night spot, the Tumwat er Conservatory. Four people were sitting around the b ar with one fellow off in the corner. The four were the two club owners, Red and Donna Kelly, Donna's brother, Darrell Griswold the bar manager, and Bob Kelly, a regular at the Jazz a nd Point and erstwhile music performer's agent.

They were in heavy discussion about the politics of that year's 1976 election. Drinks were being consumed briskly and the conversation cen
tered around the need for more (some) humor in politics. There was unanimity that a new political party, born in satire, would make the upcoming election more interesting. As Red would report later, "it (the OWL Party) grew from a lot of hilarity, a little booze and good people with quick minds."  

 How did this discussion grow into a political party that would give the sparring factions a modest but sincere run for their money and ultimately lead to lasting changes in politics? Read more of Kathy's story here. You can also view more documents and learn more here.
Career Criminal - Louis Smotherman    

Contributed by Tracy Rebstock, Southwest Regional Archivist

  Who knew when Louis Smotherman was arrested for breaking and entering the Blue Ribbon Dairy in Bellingham, Washington, that he would turn out to be a career criminal?  Many of the people whose records are captured in the Washington State Penitentiary files seem to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, or only committed one crime their entire lives.  Others, like Louis Smotherman, started young and never broke the cycle.  Louis says "John Rose and I entered a creamery and attempted to steal some ice cream.  We were caught in the building."  His criminal record to that point is included.  This event occurred i n 1930, when Smotherman was only 16.  He was sent to the Washington State Reformatory.  Prior to that event, he'd been in and out of juvenile and detention homes beginning in 1927.  And the kicker--he never did get any ice cream.

Take a look at his full record here.  For more records like this, contact the Washington State Archives
Looking for properties to research
Contributed by Maggie Cogswell

Do you live in Clark, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, Skamania, Thurston or Wahkiakum counties? Do you want to know more about the history of your home or property? Send an email or postcard with your name, phone number, email address and property address to Southwest Regional Branch Archivist Maggie Cogswell by June 30, 2015, for a chance to have your home's history featured in our July newsletter! Email Maggie or send submissions c/o Maggie Cogswell to:

Washington State Archives
1129 Washington St. SE
Olympia, WA 98504
Get to Know Archives Staff! 
With Volunteer Norman Dodge at the
2014 Volunteer Recognition Event, Ellensburg.
People come to the Archives in many ways. This month's Employee Spotlight -
Amber Raney

Amber Raney has been at the Archives since March 2013, and is our Historical Records Project Coordinator. She manages volunteers, comes up with online projects for the volunteers, coordinates events and outreach activities, creates promotional materials, and puts together this very newsletter (among many other things)! You can often find her manning Archives' booths at fairs and conferences, so dart over and tell her you want to volunteer!

Co-workers Molly Rooney (Acquisitions Archivist) and Mary Hammer (Digital Projects Archivist) put together a list of questions for her to answer, so read on here to find out which of her pets has tried to kill her.
We hope you've enjoyed this edition of
"Out of the Archives!"

Steve Excell, Washington State Archivist | |
Telephone: (360) 586-1492
1129 Washington St. SE
Olympia, WA 98504-0238