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Archives / Special Collections

Spring 2015

A Nagasaki letter

Minutes before the B-29 bomber Bockscar dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945, the crew of the accompanying B-29 released a canister holding testing equipment. A letter was Scotch-taped inside. The canister fell on the outskirts of the city and its contents withstood the second and, to date, last nuclear attack in a war.

The letter, addressed to “R. Sagane, Imperial University, Tokyo,” was an appeal from three Manhattan Project physicists to fellow physicist and former colleague Ryokichi Sagane. They asked Sagane to confirm the power and devastation of the nuclear attack to the Imperial Japanese government, and to urge Japan’s surrender.

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Narcissa Whitman's hair
Winter 2014

Hair and history

On the first day of class this semester, Kristine Leier, a senior majoring in history and anthropology, returned one of the more macabre items owned by the WSU Libraries: a lock of hair from the murdered missionary, Narcissa Whitman.

Hair is not something we at WSU’s Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections still collect. And how it came to be here, and where it has been for the last half century, turned out to be an intriguing story.

Narcissa Whitman’s name is familiar to many in the Northwest. She and her husband, Marcus, established their mission to the Cayuse Indians near Walla Walla in 1836. … » More …

Mark O'English with Extension bulletin
Fall 2014

The ultimate DIY source

Maybe you’re wondering how to build a wooden hoop silo; perhaps you’re curious about canning meat or making wine at home; how about pruning a pear tree?

There’s a state college bulletin that says just how to do it.

Since 1892, our land-grant school has been advising Washingtonians on topics ranging from canning jams to breeding cattle. Thousands of paper bulletins have carried the expertise of faculty and extension agents to the far corners of our state. They tackled everything imaginable: talking to your teen, creating a budget for your farm, or figuring annual losses from ground squirrels. The earliest editions delivered essential information to … » More …

Fall 2013

A fitting business

Growing up, Loralyn Young ’62 heard different versions of her Grandma Lucy, her grandmother’s mother. She was a Pennsylvania-born girl from a large family and for some time was apprenticed to a tailor. She married a homesteader more than 30 years her senior, and was widowed in Kansas with a young child at the age of 35. She later married Civil War veteran John Stevenson and started her second life. Then they moved to Washington where, at the age of 60, Lucy opened her own hat and dressmaking business in Issaquah. From some accounts, she was clever and hardworking. From others, precise and demanding.

“My … » More …

1710 Senex map
Winter 2012

The 1710 Senex map of North America

There were still plenty of blank spots on maps when cartographer and engraver John Senex (circa 1678-1740) created this 1710 map of North America. It is one of 33 early eighteenth-century maps from a Senex atlas in Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, acquired by the WSU Libraries in the mid-1950s. The atlas lacks a title page, but it is almost certainly Senex’s Universal Geographer, published circa 1725. It includes the bookplate of Sir Archibald Grant of Monymoske, Baronet (1696-1778), and was formerly part of his library.

Courtesy WSU Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections

1710 Senex map of ... <a href=» More …

Vineland book cover and exhibit
Fall 2012

The perfect city

Charles Francis Adams, a wealthy businessman from Boston, envisioned a perfect city. It was to be clean, well-maintained, and economically prosperous. It could not be too crowded. It had to be close to water. It would be somewhere in the West.

Adams and a group of fellow businessmen created the Lewiston-Clarkston Improvement Company and in 1896 chose the site of modern-day Clarkston for their garden paradise. There, they built the community of Vineland.

Now, Vineland’s story is being retold by WSU faculty and students.

“Vineland: Shaping Paradise” was installed as an exhibit in the WSU Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections (MASC) in April. An … » More …