Washington’s Undiscovered Feminists with Mayumi Tsutakawa

On Dec. 5th, the Seattle Public Library presents a virtual program, Washington’s Undiscovered Feminists with Mayumi Tsutakawa, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. It is about five woman warriors of the Pacific Northwest: pioneering photographer Imogen Cunningham; Black American jazz musician Ruby Bishop; Chinese American artist Priscilla Chong Jue; Leftist journalist Anna Louise Strong; and Native American linguist Vi Hilbert. Here are some books from the library to learn and explore about each warrior or the field where the warriors pioneered.

Imogen Cunningham (1883-1976) specialized in plant photography. Richard Lorenz’s book Imogen Cunningham: Flora presents a selection of her botanical images, from simple flower arrangements to elaborate compositions of ferns and lilies.

The Blue Note by David Keller focused on Seattle’s black American Federation of Musicians’ Local 493. It is an upbeat story of race, jazz, gender, and union culture spanning the years from the 1880’s to the mid-1950’s. Ruby Bishop’s brother was an agent for Local 493, the black musicians’ union.  Jackson Street After Hours by Paul De Barros provides a detailed description of the vibrant Central District music scene that led up to the funk and soul clubs described in the documentary Wheedle’s Groove. Continue reading “Washington’s Undiscovered Feminists with Mayumi Tsutakawa”

Arthur C. Pillsbury Photograph Collection

Interested in seeing panoramic photos of Seattle and Alaska at the height of the Klondike Gold Rush? We recently digitized 197 photographs taken by Arthur C. Pillsbury between approximately 1896 and 1900, documenting the Gold Rush and scenes from California, Oregon and Washington. The collection includes a mixture of photograph sizes, many of them panoramic images that measure nearly three feet in length.

Pioneer Square, Seattle, 1899

The majority of the photographs in the collection show scenes from the Klondike Gold Rush. Pillsbury first traveled to Alaska in 1898, shortly after his graduation from Stanford University. (By this time, his interest in photography was already well established. To help fund his education at Stanford he operated a combination bicycle and photography shop and for his senior project at the University, he invented the first circuit panorama camera.) His father accompanied him on his travels and the two men experienced a fair share of adventure on their journey.

After setting out from Seattle and traveling hundreds of miles up the coast, they wrecked their small boat in a storm near Cape Fox, Alaska. Miraculously, neither Pillsbury’s camera nor his camera supplies (which were in airtight metal canisters) were damaged in the wreck but they did lose their maps and navigation charts. Once ashore, Pillsbury and his father created a temporary shelter from the boat’s wreckage and Pillsbury walked ten miles to a Tlingit village (which he remembered being marked on the now lost maps) for help. Continue reading “Arthur C. Pillsbury Photograph Collection”

Donald Schmechel Oral History Collection

October is American Archives Month and we are celebrating with the completion of a new digital collection: the Donald Schmechel Oral History Collection.

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Donald Schmechel was a Seattle Public Library board member who, in the 1980s, created a project to interview prominent figures in Pacific Northwest History. Schmechel raised funding for the project, volunteered his time to manage it, and conducted interviews along with a crew of volunteers. The resulting oral histories were divided between the Seattle Public Library and the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI). Continue reading “Donald Schmechel Oral History Collection”

New Digital Collection Highlights Lives of Seattle Pioneers

This month we’ve launched a new digital collection which reveals a glimpse into the personal lives of some of Seattle’s early pioneers. The Lu Jacobson Collection of Latimer and Denny Family Material includes materials focusing on Alexander Latimer, his wife Sarah Chesney Latimer and their five daughters: Narcissa Latimer Denny, Eliza Alice Latimer Fowler, Harriet Ellen Latimer Stephens, Clara Latimer Bickford, and Emma Chesney Latimer Reynolds.

Narcissa, Alice, Hattie, Clara, and Emma Latimer, circa 1880.

The descendants of the Latimer family played a significant role in the founding of Seattle. Alexander Latimer’s sister, Sarah Latimer, married her first husband, Richard Boren in 1822. Their children, Mary Ann Boren Denny, Carson Dobbins Boren and Louisa Boren, were in the group of Seattle’s first settlers who landed at Alki on November 13, 1851. They were accompanied by Arthur Armstrong Denny (husband to Mary Ann Boren Denny) and David Thomas Denny (soon to be husband to Louisa Boren). Arthur and David were the sons Sarah Latimer’s second husband John Denny from a previous marriage. Continue reading “New Digital Collection Highlights Lives of Seattle Pioneers”

City Council Reads – Rob Johnson, District 4

This past November, Seattle swore in a new Mayor and City Councilmember, and we here at ShelfTalk thought this would be a great opportunity to continue our series of posts in which we invited your representatives to share books that have meant a lot to them. This time, we asked them “What book was most influential in your life or career and why?” This week, Councilmember Rob Johnson, representing District 4, Northeast Seattle.

“What book was most influential in your life or career and why?”

The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein made a huge impact on me, and continues to shape my work as I serve as the chair of the Seattle City Council’s Planning, Land Use & Zoning committee. This book represents a powerful examination of the way 20th century land use and zoning policy in America deepened the harmful divide of segregation, Continue reading “City Council Reads – Rob Johnson, District 4”