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History

Fall 2007

Celebrating a century at Seattle's liveliest landmark

It started a century ago, on August 17, 1907, when a small group of farmers set up stalls at the corner of First and Pike in Seattle and sold their produce right on the street. They claimed their little city-sponsored market experiment was born out of need. The local brokers had been price fixing, so farmers were being underpaid for their eggs and vegetables. Furthermore, consumers were paying high prices for food that was often old, bruised, and wilted.

The little corner market changed all that. Offering some of the most affordable fresh food in Seattle, it grew quickly and flourished through the Great Depression. … » More …

Winter 2007

WSU's rarest book? Frederick Meserve's Historical Portraits

One of the great joys of my job at Washington State University is the time I spend in the rare books vault in Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections. “Rare books vault” is a romantic way to describe two large, secure, climate-controlled rooms located on the ground floor of the Terrell Library, but it’s fitting, given the treasures held within.

I’ve been aware for years of our 28-volume set of Frederick Hill Meserve’s Historical Portraits, a terrific source for locating photographs of leading Americans of the Civil War era. The collection’s gilt-tooled, crimson, Morocco-leather spines cry out “open me.” In addition to its beauty, the set … » More …

Spring 2009

Hotel at the Top

Pioneer James “Cashup” Davis dreamed big. At a time when most Washington settlers were carving farms out of the Palouse, he was so awed with the panoramic views of the Palouse from Steptoe Butte, he decided to build a hotel at the top.

Davis’s first career was as a well-to-do stonemason in England, but he left that life in search of adventure. In 1872, at the age of 57, he settled in Washington and built a bustling farm as well as a stage coach stop and dance hall.

While most Washington State University students only know of the butte as a landmark east of Highway … » More …

Spring 2009

Space Chronicles

Working on her doctorate at Washington State University, Jennifer Ross-Nazzal ’04 was drawn to public history–a field that combines academic history with non-traditional methods of collecting and presenting historical information. The program has been in effect at WSU since 1979 and has produced historians who now work for public archives, historical sites, and museums around the country.

Ross-Nazzal’s studies at WSU led to a focus on women’s history and an internship at a museum. “Though that was a good experience, I wanted to do another internship,” she says. Craving a very different experience, she found an offer at Johnson Space Center of the National Aeronautics … » More …

Winter 2008

Carol Edgemon Hipperson – Writing History

When Carol Edgemon Hipperson was growing up in Coulee City, the eastern Washington community was too small for a library. However, every other Thursday during the summer, the Bookmobile from the North Central Regional Library pulled into town. “I was allowed to check out as many books as I could carry,” says Hipperson ’75. “I’d go straight home and curl up with my books until dinner time.”

The idea that one day books with her name on the spine would appear on library shelves and in book stores didn’t occur to her. “I never intended to become a writer,” she says. “I just wanted to … » More …

Summer 2008

A home for hotel history

One day in the late 1920s, hoteliers Severt W. Thurston and Frank Dupar met by chance in a coffee shop in Yakima, Washington. Unbeknownst to one another, each had gone to Yakima to make separate hotel deals. But by the time they parted company that day, the two had decided to go into business together. In 1930 they joined with the Schmidt Brothers, who had hotels in Olympia, Seattle, and Bellingham, to form Western Hotels Inc., the foundation of what would become the Westin hotel chain.

That first year they had 17 properties, including the Roosevelt and Waldorf hotels in Seattle, the Marcus Whitman in … » More …

Winter 2008

Conquistador: Hernan Cortés, King Montezuma, and the Last Stand of the Aztecs

I suspect I am a good example of the intended audience for this book, which is a popular account of the strange, tragic relationship between Cortés and Montezuma, and the destruction of a way of life. I can’t remember reading anything about Cortés or Montezuma since high school, other than an occasional National Geographic article. So, I am not the best person to comment on the scholarship. But I can comment on the readability as a popular history, and Levy captured me in the initial pages. He has a way of spinning a good story, of keeping the pages turning, and as the pages turn, … » More …

Summer 2003

Anaconda: Labor, Community and Culture in Montana's Smelter City

Anaconda, in southwest Montana, was home to the world’s largest copper smelter. Marcus Daly established the first smelter in 1884. In 1980, the last plant closed its doors. Anaconda deals primarily with the community from the 1930s through the 1970s, and focuses on social life, work, unions, and the role of women in an industrialized western town.

An associate professor of history at Washington State University at Vancouver, Laurie Mercier undertook much of the research for Anaconda while she served as state oral historian for Montana.

The strength of Mercier’s work is her attention to women. She doesn’t ignore the male story, but she continually … » More …