Contact UsWashington State ArchivesWashington State LibraryOffice of the Secretary of State
Find Your Regional Branch!
Myths in Records Management

As business becomes increasingly digital (and amasses ever-increasing volumes of records), the tasks before our records managers seem daunting.  Fear not, however!  Our team of experts can help make the seemingly overwhelming task of caring for and disposing of records created during the daily activities of doing business much more...manageable!

Last edition we tackled the first in a series of myths surrounding records management.

And check back next time for more good news from RM!

Washington archives, historical societies, museums, public libraries, and university special collections throughout the state will celebrate their rich heritage collections at a range of events during October's Washington Archives Month 2014 with the theme "125 Years of Making History." 

Archives Month is sponsored by the Washington State Archives, the National Archives at Seattle and the Washington State Historical Records Advisory Board.

There's much to more here!
We want to hear YOUR stories from the past 125 years!

Washington became a state on
November 11, 1889. 

Is your community planning events celebrating Washington's birthday?  If so, let us know!  Need suggestions for ways to commemorate the anniversary?  Find out what was done for the Centennial Celebration in 1989 here.

For more information, visit Washington 125
or contact
 Susan Rohrer here by email or at (360) 753-2580.
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.

Share the Love!
Do you know someone who would enjoy reading this newsletter?  Why not send it

Make sure your name is on the list so that Out of the Archives lands in your inbox next month!

September 2014
Out of the Archives Goes Monthly!
Welcome to the first edition of the monthly version of Out of the Archives!  We hope that you continue to find it informative and fun.  We'd love to hear your comments and suggestions!  What would you like to know about the Washington State Archives? 

Email State Archivist, Steve Excell with your thoughts, and we'll do our best to keep you up to date with all things Archives and Records Management in Washington State!

USS Olympia, 1895, Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Dedicated Volunteers Attempt to save USS Olympia from Deterioration and Neglect

Contributed by Les Eldridge, Executive Secretary of the Washington State Friends of the USS Olympia (FOTO)

Named to honor the capital city of the young State of Washington in 1895, the USS Olympia is the oldest steel-hulled warship in the world.

Hers is a truly fascinating and nationally significant story, and she currently sits deteriorating at the Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia. The Washington State Friends of the USS Olympia include such dignitaries as former Governors Dan Evans and Chris Gregoire, former Secretaries of State Ralph Munro and Sam Reed, former Chief Justice Gerry Alexander, and Admiral Tom Hayward, USN (Ret.).  This dedicated group is committed to helping protect this piece of history to pay tribute to "her history and service to our country, and because she is named for our State Capital City."

Les Eldridge spent much time researching the collections at the Washington State Archives among other sources for the work that you can now find on both the IndieGoGo fundraising site and the Navy Cruiser Olympia page.  Click here to read the amazing tale of this remarkable vessel and learn how you can get involved in rescuing a national treasure!

Governor and Mrs. Inslee with Maggie Cogswell, Ben Helle, and Assistant Secretary of State Ken Raske
Governor Recognizes State Employees in Oso Recovery Efforts
Contributed by Benjamin Helle, SW/State Branch

State employees from 15 state agencies, including staff of the Washington State Archives, were recognized for their work following the devastating Oso mudslide on March 22. Alongside volunteers and Snohomish County departments, staff of the State Archives in Olympia assisted in emergency salvage of photographs, documents, and artifacts that were removed from the slide area.  


On Saturday, March 22, 2014, a historic landslide, the largest in state history, occurred near the community of Oso, Washington. A portion of an unstable hill collapsed, sending mud and debris across the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River, engulfing a rural neighborhood. Forty-three people were killed.


Family photos, heirlooms, and irreplaceable personal possessions might have been considered lost forever, but determined spotters assisting in the debris removal efforts retrieved personal property and sent them to a specially-equipped warehouse. Here specialists and  experts carefully sorted, decontaminated, and cataloged the family bibles, family keepsakes, love letters, and vital records. Most of the recovered material were muddybut could be cleaned and laid out to dry. Some items were too saturated for preservation efforts onsite and were placed in freezers to safely stabilize them. A reunification process has been established by Snohomish County allowing family members to visit the facility and recover lost property.

Photos courtesy of the Office of the Governor and the Washington State Patrol
Introducing the Most Often Requested Records in Bellevue... 
King County Property Record Cards, 1937-1972
Contributed by Midori Okazaki
Archivist, Puget Sound Regional Branch

Ask any archivist at the Puget Sound Regional Branch what the most popular collection is, and without a moment's thought, you will hear about the King County Property Record Cards.  Born out of a Works Progress Administration (WPA) funded survey of King County, these cards provide a wealth of information about the history of property in the county.  See some great examples and read more about this fantastic collection here
Ellensburg's Wheelbarrow Man
Contributed by Benjamin Helle, SW/State Branch

From 1946 to 1950, Larry Hightower of Ellensburg went on a "goodwill" tour around the United States, Canada and Mexico to promote the State of Washington.  His trip was unusual because he pushed a wheelbarrow during most of his travels.  Throughout the trip, he sent correspondence, pamphlets and artifacts to personal friend, Earl Coe, Washington's Secretary of State.  This collection of ephemera and artifacts was later donated to the Washington State Library and several photographs of Hightower and his wheelbarrow can be found in the Digital Archives.
Click here to read more about Mr. Hightower's travels and his connection to the Secretary of State's Office through the years.  One more example of a complete story that begins with primary source documents!

Photo showing Larry Hightower's Wheelbarrow Express entering Burley, Idaho, ca. 1950.  WSL Photo Collection.
Get to Know Archives and Records Management Staff! 
Beginning this edition, we'd like to introduce you to the folks who work for the Washington State Archives in its many branches and capacities.  It's one thing to learn about the records, but what about the people who work to preserve and make those records accessible?  Just what is it that we do?

Meet Patrick Williams, Grants and Contracts Coordinator for the Washington State Archives.  You will find Patrick greeting you from the front desk of the Olympia Branch pretty much every day.  Over the past nine years, he has been part of the Imaging Services Department, where he has helped digitize and maintain thousands of collections for state and local agencies.  Patrick's favorite part of his job is finding the forgotten or lost historical stories, such as that of Herbert Nicolls Jr.--the 12 year old murder--and his county jail register entry.  The most challenging and rewarding part for Patrick is guiding agencies through the pitfalls and benefits that come with creating usable digital collections.  "Especially," he says, "when we provide the grant that helps the agency move into the 21st century." 

In his spare time, Patrick enjoys reading science-fiction and playing with his kids.  Random fact about Patrick--his top three movies are The Princess Bride, Being John Malkovich, and 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Weather Station at Priest Point Park--or--Sometimes We Can't Find the Answers

Part of the "Adventures in Research" Series with Tracy Rebstock

Our archivists are skilled at finding information for researchers, but we'd be lying if we said that we can always find what people need.  Case in point--a researcher recently came to the Southwest Branch looking for the exact location of a weather station situated at Priest Point Park from about 1929 to 1956 based on this document.  Find out what Tracy Rebstock did to try and help her researcher, and find out why she was unable to pinpoint the exact location of the station.  Maybe you have the missing information that the researcher needs! 
Read on here...
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
Like us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterView our videos on YouTube

Copyright � 2014. All Rights Reserved.