Thursday, March 7, 2013

Sign Up Now for the Civil War Read In!

An innovative attempt to research the Washington Territory in the era of the Civil War is fast approaching, and we need more volunteers in eastern Washington! The training is on April 13, right here at the fabulous State Archives building in sunny Cheney. Details are below. We invite armchair historians, college students, genealogists, and really everyone to participate. Here are the details:

Join Washington’s Civil War Read-In!   

Democratic appointee James Tilton arrived in Olympia, Washington Territory in 1855, accompanied by his family and a young black slave, named Charles Mitchell. Mitchell fled to the Crown Colony of Victoria in September 1860, a fugitive on a tiny Puget Sound underground railroad. Here, the San Francisco Daily Evening Bulletin, October 18, 1860, reprinted an article on the flight from a Washington Territory newspaper.

In 2013, hundreds of researchers will fan out across Washington State, visiting archives, museums and libraries to read the primary documents of our history, 1857-1871. We invite you to attend a training and to join the Read-In. Participants will read an assignment in newspapers, classic published histories, and archival material of all sorts. Join us to discover the forgotten Civil War experience in Washington Territory, and report your discoveries to make a permanent record – an on-line searchable database of Civil War-era citations, hosted by the Washington State Historical Society.

During the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, we in Washington know little of our own experience of the war. However, the war is not only of significance in the battlefield states, but also here in the far northwest, where settlers argued through the very same issues that tore the United States apart. As Washington State Historical Society prepares to launch a major exhibition, “Civil War Pathways,” in February 2014, we seek your help in learning more about Washington Territory during the antebellum, wartime and early Reconstruction periods.

Get involved!
  • Attend a training, January through May 2013
  • Take a Read-In assignment, in newspapers or documents
  • Spend a month of spare time, carefully reading and gathering evidence (AND you have two months to actually do the work….)
  • Document your reading in the project templates
  • Upload your results to the Project’s Omeka database, hosted online by the Washington State Historical Society

Here are the Civil War Read-In Trainings

Saturday, February 9, 10-4 Seattle
Wednesday February 13, 10-4 Seattle
Saturday, February 16, 10-4 Vancouver
Saturday, February 23, 10-4 Olympia
Saturday, March 2, 10-4 Tacoma
SUNDAY, March 10, 12-6 Walla Walla
Saturday, March 23, 10-4 Yakima
Saturday, April 13, 10-4 Cheney
Saturday, April 20, 10-4 La Conner
Saturday, April 27, 10-4 Seattle

We will build a searchable database from your work, which will be available to all researchers on the WSHS website. And we’ll also get all the readers together at the conclusion of the Read-In, to meet one another and celebrate this great accomplishment.

Curious? Interested?

Ready to sign up for a training? Have any questions?
Contact Lorraine McConaghy at

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