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Humanities

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 … » 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 …

Winter 2008

Everybody reads

When Mary Roach was researching her book on human cadavers, she attended a seminar where plastic surgeons practiced techniques on severed human heads. She also visited a body farm in Tennessee to see remains in various states of decay. And she stood at an operating table to witness an organ harvest from a brain-dead patient whose heart was still beating.

While doing all these things, Roach simply followed her curiosity as it led her into some extraordinary places.

Jay BartonJay Barton, a pre-med student, is one of 3,400 freshmen invited to participate in … » 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 …