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History

Fall 2003

Irrigated Eden: The Making of an Agricultural Landscape in the America

This gem of a book is actually about the gem state, Idaho—specifically, the Snake River Plain of southern Idaho, where farmers, engineers, lawyers, bankers, and politicians have carved an agricultural landscape out of the parched and dusty sagebrush desert. With deft prose and engaging anecdotes, author Mark Fiege (’85 M.A. Hist.), a professor of history at Colorado State University, systematically traces the 100-year history of the creation and maintenance of the irrigation infrastructure that made farming possible in the Snake River plain. Praising it as “an ingenious, intricate, technological system,” Fiege nevertheless offers sober assessments of the economic inefficiencies, ecological losses, engineering foibles, and political … » More …

Fall 2006

Idaho's Bunker Hill: The Rise and Fall of a Great Mining Company, 1885

Bunker Hill finally has a book worthy of its story. BH, during its heyday, was one of the nation’s most important mining and smelting operations, and wielded unprecedented influence over Idaho politics. At the time it closed in 1981 it produced 15 percent of America’s silver and zinc, and 17 percent of its lead. Much has been written about BH. But this is the first book to encapsulate its entire history, from lode discovery to company closure.

Aiken weaves together many stories. Hers is one of the best tellings of the oft-romanticized origins of the mine that Noah Kellogg’s donkey might or might not have … » More …

Summer 2002

The Dynamics of Change: A History of the Washington State Library

Who better to write about the Washington State Library than Maryan Reynolds, state librarian from 1951 to 1974? She also played an important role in procuring the State Library building constructed in 1959 on the Capitol grounds in Olympia. The library moved to Tumwater and was opened to the public January 2, 2002 in its new location.

The Dynamics of Change is an original and valuable history of the Washington State Library from its territorial beginnings in 1853 to the late 1990s. Reynolds provides a personal account of the library’s expansion since the 1940s, when she joined the staff.

The author chronicles the development of … » More …

Fall 2008

During the War Women Went To Work

How often have you heard a group of women in their eighties reminisce about their service in World War II? My guess is—never. Out of all the interviews, books, films, and commemorations about World War II, female voices have seldom been heard. This video, funded by the Washington State legislature for use in the schools, and created by Bristol Productions under the direction of Karl Schmidt ’81, remedies this oversight. In it, more than 50 Washington women talk about their service in the state’s shipyards and aircraft factories, as WASP (Women Aircraft Service Pilots), in the Army (WACs), and the Navy (WAVES), as nurses, and … » More …

Spring 2004

Washington's Historical Courthouses

In Washington’s Historical Courthouses, Ray Graves (’50 Pol. Sci.) has compiled a wonderful pictorial survey of the proud cultural and architectural heritage of the state. It contains beautiful photographs by Erick Erickson, a thoughtful introduction by Chief Justice Gerry Alexander, and a very interesting discussion of the historic development of each of the state’s 39 county seats and the architectural qualities of each courthouse built before 1930.

The book makes an important contribution to the history of the state’s cultural development, and it establishes a very useful typology of this prominent building type. It is amazing to review the variety and creativity of design in … » More …

Spring 2005

Company Towns of the Pacific Northwest

In Company Towns of the Pacific Northwest, Linda Carlson provides much insight into the rewards and trials of life in the small, isolated communities of a bygone Northwest.

A company town was generally a glorified camp established in the late 1800s by a logging or mining company. The company provided housing for its workers, and often mandated the school curriculum, owned the general store, and decided whether or not alcohol and gambling were allowed. A few paid their employees in scrip, the company’s own currency. There was no local government, as the company boss dictated just about anything he wanted. Nevertheless, Carlson ’73 defines these … » More …

Summer 2002

The Cayton Legacy: An African American Family

Set in Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, and New York, The Cayton Legacy chronicles the evolution of a remarkable African American family. From the Civil War to the present, generations of the Horace and Susie Cayton family helped illuminate the black and white experience and the troubled course of race relations in the United States.

The Caytons sought to define themselves in relation to their family traditions and to society as a whole. In the process, the distinguished family attained financial success and influence, both regionally and nationally. Family members published newspapers, wrote books, and were elected to public office. They worked for civil and human … » More …

Summer 2008

Bunion Derby: The 1928 Footrace Across America

Charles B. Kastner ’81
University of New Mexico Press, 2007

For generations, the 1920s have provided fodder for authors. The super-hyped sensationalism of those ballyhooed years seems a bottomless pool of entertaining topics. The decade of Lindbergh, Valentino, Capone, and Ruth, of flappers, Mah Jong, crossword puzzles, and marathon dances, also produced the Bunion Derby, a marathon footrace across America. It is to his credit that Seattle author Charles Kastner (’81 M.A. History) not only … » More …

Summer 2007

Domesticating the West: The Re-creation of the Nineteenth-Century Amer

In Domesticating the West, Brenda K. Jackson ’02, a Washington State University history Ph.D., explores the settlement of the West by the 19th-century middle class. Specifically, Jackson presents a dual biography of Thomas and Elizabeth Tannatt, middle-class migrants from Massachusetts to Washington Territory in the late 1800s. Jackson begins her book by examining the middle-class backgrounds of the Tannatts and their experiences prior to and during the Civil War. Jackson effectively demonstrates that both Thomas and Elizabeth grew up solidly middle class, in terms of relative wealth, status, and privilege, though Thomas’s situation was a bit more precarious. As a result, Jackson argues, “throughout his … » More …