Libraries Where You Least Expect Them: Library Stations of the 1920s

2016 marks the 125th anniversary of The Seattle Public Library. After it was adopted as a department of the city in 1890, the Library opened its first reading room in Pioneer Square on April 8, 1891. To honor this milestone, we will be posting a series of articles here about the Library’s history and life in the 1890s. We also encourage our patrons to share their favorite memories of SPL on social media using the hashtag #SPL125. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest

Library Deposit Station No. 1, Weeds Pharmacy
Library Deposit Station No. 1, Weeds Pharmacy

Imagine being able to check out your next library book at your neighborhood pharmacy, candy store, or even your local department store. In the early 20th century, the library depended on exactly this model. They were referred to as deposit stations to reach underserved populations who weren’t able to make it to an official library. These stations were scattered across pharmacies, fire stations, schools, hospitals and other locales throughout the city and offered mini-library collections catered to each location. Continue reading “Libraries Where You Least Expect Them: Library Stations of the 1920s”

A Taste of Turkey from the Seattle Room Menu Collection

~posted by Jade D.
Melody Lane menu, 1951
Looking for inspiration for your Thanksgiving menu? Take a look at our Seattle Room Menu Collection to start gathering ideas for your turkey dinner from some of Seattle’s historic restaurants. Continue reading “A Taste of Turkey from the Seattle Room Menu Collection”

If Walls Could Talk: The Bussell Family – Part 2

By Jade D

If you missed my first post about the history of the Bussell family and their home, take a look at Part 1 to catch up!

Charles B. Bussell - Image from The Cartoon, A Reference Book of Seattle's Successful Men
Charles B. Bussell – Image from The Cartoon, A Reference Book of Seattle’s Successful Men

So here’s what really happened, as best as I can tell. Charles Bussell and his first wife, Elizabeth, bought their Madrona home in 1900. Despite the stately new accommodations, their marriage was not a happy one. Elizabeth tried to divorce Charles in 1902 and it quickly turned ugly. She accused him of infidelity on multiple occasions, particularly with a Miss Violet Ball who Charles apparently lavished with gifts. The couple hired detectives to follow each other and got into a physical altercation when Elizabeth confronted Charles and Violet at the Seattle Hotel. Continue reading “If Walls Could Talk: The Bussell Family – Part 2”

If Walls Could Talk: The Bussell Family – Part 1

~posted by Jade

Bussell Home, ca. 1910, Image from the Seattle Historical Photograph Collection
Bussell Home, ca. 1910, Image from the Seattle Historical Photograph Collection

It all began with a picture of a house.
I was researching a recent addition to our Seattle Historical Photograph Collection and all I had to go on was the name “Bussell” on the back of the photograph. Quick searches in HistoryLink and the Seattle Times historical newspaper database revealed it to be the Madrona home of Charles Baner Bussell, a prominent figure in Seattle history. Continue reading “If Walls Could Talk: The Bussell Family – Part 1”

How do I love the Seattle Public Library? Let me count the ways.

Today’s guest blogger is Diana E. James, author of the newly published Shared Walls: Seattle Apartment Buildings, 1900-1939 (and co-author of one of our library’s own talented teen librarians).

How do I love Seattle Public Library? Let me count the ways.

Shared Walls: Seattle apartment buildings, 1900- 1939, by Diana E. James in the Seattle Public Library catalogWhere else would a staff-person patiently sift through a drawer of maps until the perfect one appeared: my now much-tattered 1939 Kroll Map Company’s Greater Business District of Seattle, distributed by Seattle entrepreneur Henry Broderick. The names of churches, schools, hotels, government offices, hospitals, businesses of all ilk, and apartment buildings are written in tiny letters wherever they appear. The map is much more than a bird’s-eye view of Seattle in 1939, the precise ending date for my study; it is a revealing picture of the everyday life of our city.

Image from the Baist Real Estate Atlas, 1912 edition.Where else would I have the satisfaction of lowering a 4 x 4 (well, maybe not quite that large) 1905 Baist Real Estate Atlas onto a rolling table placed there just for the purpose? And then turn the large pages until I reach a particular block within a particular neighborhood–and discover something I didn’t even know I was looking for, but which adds another nugget of information to my research.

Where else could I sit and troll my way through the actual pages of Pacific Builder & Engineer (and its various incarnations) looking for announcements of permits, architects, property sales and purchases, and, again, coming across unsought but helpful bits of news. One can also get lost in other building-related periodicals and journals, such as Hotel News of the West and Washington State Architect, just waiting to be pulled off the shelf and perused!

All these and much more (Polk Seattle City Directories! microfilm of the P.I.! Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce!) made Shared Walls possible. But it was the friendly, encouraging, ever-helpful library staff that made my research a pleasure.

Why thank you, Diana – we’re grateful to local historians like yourself for adding such interesting books to our collection. Ms. James will be appearing at the Elliott Bay Book Company on January 28 to share research tips and lead a brief walking tour of the store’s historic environs. If you can’t make Diana’s presentation, remember you can always learn more about researching your house’s history and other local history research right here at the Library.