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History

Fall 2018

Two river poems

Washington State University landscape architecture professor and poet Jolie Kaytes reflects on the complex emotions and rational considerations about the Columbia River watershed through poems that give new ways to consider our part in the stories of the River.

 

Fishhook Park

A tongue stopping “f”

with a soft “ish,”

tied to a tight lipped “h”

caught on “ook.”

Hard to swallow.

Where the Palouse Band gathered,

homed their family bones

now buried by the Snake River’s

stopped up waters, slow and dumb.

First Words
Fall 2018

Influence

Abraham Lincoln, when nominated for president in 1860, apologized for his lack of formal education. No apology was necessary from the articulate orator and voracious reader whose desire to learn and improve himself continued into his adulthood. Even without school, Lincoln had teachers, people who influenced his education. He moved to New Salem, Illinois, in his early 20s and studied grammar and debate under the tutelage of his mentor, remarkably named Mentor Graham, who wrote about Lincoln: “No one ever surpassed him in rapidly, quickly and well acquiring the rudiments and rules of English grammar.”

Gladys Cooper Jennings ’48 similarly served as a mentor … » More …

Fall 2018

A river rolls on

After thousands of years of use for food, transportation, and trade, the Columbia River’s dynamics have changed, resulting in unforeseen consequences and deeply mixed emotions.

 

Once there were Five Sisters. Because they loved to eat salmon, the sisters kept a dam at the mouth of Big River to prevent the fish from swimming upstream. Every night they feasted on a wonderful, fat salmon. This didn’t suit Coyote, who thought that the salmon need the people and the people need the salmon. Or maybe he was jealous and wanted some of that fat salmon for himself. So Coyote tricked the sisters to get into their … » More …

Irrigated water in the Columbia Basin. Photo Zach Mazur
Fall 2018

Three economists on the Columbia river

Retired Washington State University economist Norm Whittlesey is sitting at his kitchen table with two other retired economists, Walt Butcher and Ken Casavant. They are reminiscing about the collective 150 years they have worked on and around the Columbia River.

“We used to catch steelhead on the Snake River before the dam,” says Whittlesey. “I’ve got a picture of Walt with, what, a 25 pounder?”

Walt Butcher chuckles and says, “That fish might be up to 25 pounds by now.”

Casavant adds, “It’s been growing, even after being eaten.”

With a sweep of his hand across a map of the Columbia River watershed on the … » More …

Gay Pride flag in front of Mt. Rainier
Summer 2018

Out West

We make so many assumptions about gender expression and identity, and sexual orientation, that it’s sometimes a shock to realize that ideas about them have changed over time. Take pink and blue.

Pink is for girls, blue is for boys—except when it wasn’t. A Ladies’ Home Journal article from 1918 clearly states that “the generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.”

A decade later, Time magazine repeated the … » More …

Cover of Captain Cook's Final Voyage
Summer 2018

Captain Cook’s Final Voyage: The Untold Story from the Journals of James Burney and Henry Roberts

Cover of Captain Cook's Final Voyage

Edited by James K. Barnett

WSU Press: 2017

 

The British Navy was outfitting ships for war against the upstart American colonies when Captain James Cook sailed from Plymouth Harbor in July 1776 for his third and final voyage. The mariner sought the elusive Northwest Passage via the west coast of North America, but the ensuing three-and-a-half-year expedition didn’t turn out as planned.

Much has been written about Cook, particularly … » More …

Protest on Trial cover
Summer 2018

Protest on Trial: The Seattle 7 Conspiracy

Protest on Trial cover

Kit Bakke

WSU Press: 2018

 

It’s December 1970, and surprise witness Horace “Red” Parker is mumbling his way through his testimony. The prosecutor has to keep telling the self-made activist infiltrator to speak up. The defense attorney keeps objecting to Parker’s constant inferrals of what the defendants must have been thinking as they organized the anti-Vietnam War protest they’re on trial for. Which, as Kit Bakke points out, is ironic, because … » More …

Book - Briefly Noted
Spring 2018

Briefly noted

 

On the Arctic Frontier: Ernest Leffingwell’s Polar Explorations and Legacy

Janet R. Collins

WSU Press: 2017

Arctic explorer and geologist Ernest deKoven Leffingwell(1875–1971) helped determine the edge of the continental shelf—the first solid evidence that searching for land north of Alaska was likely futile. He also left detailed, accurate maps of Alaska’s northeast coast, groundbreaking permafrost studies, and charted the geology and wildlife of the region. Collins, a Western Washington University librarian intrigued by Leffingwell’s work, reveals a relatively unknown, meticulous, and detailed explorer devoted to the Arctic.

 

Re-Awakening Ancient Salish Sea Basketry: Fifty Years of Basketry Studies in Culture and Science

Ed … » More …

Cover of Losing Eden: An Environmental History of the American West
Spring 2018

Losing Eden: An Environmental History of the American West

Cover of Losing Eden: An Environmental History of the American West

Sara Dant ’91 MA, ’00 PhD

Wiley: 2017

 

The 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition welcomed millions of people to Chicago to celebrate the rise of industrial America, the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ arrival on the continent, and the romanticization of the “frontier” West. Historian Frederick Jackson Turner presented his thesis that the western advance into a wild and savage frontier defined the American spirit, and … » More …

Cover of At Home with Ernie Pyle
Spring 2018

At Home with Ernie Pyle

Cover of At Home with Ernie Pyle

Edited by Owen V. Johnson ’68

Indiana University Press: 2016

 

A glimpse into the life and times of American journalist and Indiana favorite son Ernie Pyle, as seen through an extensive collection of Pyle’s folksy newspaper columns stretching from his student days in 1921 until his death by sniper fire during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945.

The homespun Hoosier, as Pyle was known, grew up in small-town … » More …