Monday, November 17, 2008

Great Washington History Resource from the State Library

This is the first in a series of posts exploring a fantastic resource: Classics in Washington History. This digital collection from the Washington State Library is "brings together rare, out of print titles for easy access by students, teachers, genealogists and historians." This treasure trove of over 100 books and documents includes a lot of classics in Northwest History, including Army Life on the Pacific by Lawrence Kip, Folk-tales of Salishan and Sahaptin tribes by Franz Boas, and Ka-mi-akin, the last hero of the Yakimas by A. J. Splawn.

All of the above titles are also available full-text in Google Books, which is a superior format to the DjVu browser plug in that the Washington State Library employs. (I will write more on this subject later this week.) However, many of the classics are available no where else online and are real gems for doing local and regional history. The Deposition of Ranald McDonald is one example. McDonald was the son of a Scottish Hudson's Bay Company fur trader and a Chinook mother. In 1848 he purposely had himself stranded on the coasts of Japan, then a closed kingdom cut off from the rest of the world. His deposition is an invaluable source for both northwest and Japanese history, and the library also has MacDonald's autobiography online. The picture on the right is a monument to MacDonald in Nagasaki, Japan. He lies buried in obscure corner of Ferry County. Some other gems of Washington history include 12th Session of the Washington State Legislature, a delightful set of caricatures of early Washington leaders by the artist Alfred T. Renfro, and Annals of old Angeline : "Mika Yahoos delate klosch!" by Venen, Bertha Piper.

I am trying something new on the Northwest History blog this week, each day I will explore a different book or issue related to this site. Tomorrow: Amusing drawings of politicians. Let's see how it works!

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