by Larry Cebula, Assistant Digital Archivist at Washington State Archives, and Professor of History at Eastern Washington University; research by Devrick Barnett, Archives Intern and graduate student from EWU
Archivists realize that no matter how well they think they know their collection, it still holds surprises. The Washington Territorial Court Case Files collection at the Washington State Archives Eastern Regional Branch recently delivered such a surprise.
Eastern Washington University graduate student and Archives Intern Devrick Barnett has been working on the Territorial case files for a few months now. Also known as the Frontier Justice collection, these consist of the surviving case files from the Washington Territorial Courts (1853-1889). The 37,000 court cases comprise an unmatched record of the frontier period of the Pacific Northwest. In careful 19th-century penmanship, the cases tell of Indian wars, gold rushes...