À la Carte ~ Crowdsourcing historic PNW menus ~ We need you!

How did restaurants handle the coffee shortage during WWII?
When did the beverage sauerkraut juice disappear from menus?
What was the price of caviar in 1911?

These are some of the questions we need your help to answer!

The University of Washington Libraries Special Collections has launched À la Carte, a project to crowdsource the transcription of the data contained in our historic menu collection.   Special Collections holds more than 700 menus from Seattle and the Pacific Northwest of interest to historians, economists, chefs, scientists, and everyday food enthusiasts.  The trouble is, the menus are very hard to search for the greatest treasures they contain: specific information about dishes, prices, and all the stories they tell about food history and culture.


To aid in the discovery of these tasty tidbits of history, we’re working to improve the description of the menus in the collection by transcribing the menus, dish by dish.  Doing this will dramatically expand the ways the collection can be researched and accessed.  We built a website that will make this big job pretty easy to do.  This is where you and your friends, who also love food, become part of this crowdsourcing effort.  We depend on you (the crowd) to visit the website, look at a menu, and using the tools on the website, tell us what you see on that menu.  Dishes, prices, menu section, ingredients, and geographical location are the types of information you will be helping us uncover.

Interested? Contact info@uwmenus.org or visit the project website to complete the contact form. We’ll email you with further information about the project and optional summer meet up opportunities.

Don’t miss your chance to take part in this exciting new UW project!


Project staff:
Anne Jenner, Pacific Northwest Curator
Ann Lally, Digital Curator
Sarah L. Ketchley, Digital Humanities


New episode of the Labor Archives of Washington’s radio segment now streaming online

The latest episode of the Labor Archives of Washington’s regular segment on the KSVR radio show We Do the Work is now steaming online via KSVR and Public Radio International’s Exchange.

This episode examines the life and work of Richard V. Correll (1904-1990), who was featured in several Labor Archives exhibits in 201–at UW Special Collections, Northwest Folklife, and the Pacific Northwest Labor History Association Conference–will be the subject of an upcoming ongoing online exhibit now that the entire collection has been digitized.

Correll, whose prints and papers were donated to the Labor Archives in 2011, was “one of the leading masters of printmaking in the West.” Best known for his powerful black and white linoleum cuts, etchings and woodblock prints, for most of his life he earned a living as a commercial artist in the book publishing and advertising fields while producing a large body of fine art in his own time.

Correll’s themes ranged from landscapes, animals and agricultural scenes, harbors and ships, and music and dance to those which reflected his lifelong concern with political and social issues. Correll’s work spanned decades and prominently featured images of labor, social justice, civil rights, anti-war themes, work for the Great Depression-era Federal Art Project of the Works Projects Administration, and his work for the progressive Depression-era newspaper the Voice of Action.

The regular segment, called “Learn Yourself”, features Labor Archivist Conor Casey (Labor Archives of Washington, University of Washington Libraries Special Collections) being interviewed about a history topic by host Mike Dumovich with an emphasis on archival collections and secondary sources related to the topic in the hopes that it will inspire people to learn more about labor history on their own.

Links to Other Episodes in the Series:

  1. Labor Archives of Washington Overview
  2. Everett Massacre, also called Bloody Sunday, where a confrontation caused 7 to 12 people to be murdered on November 5, 1916.
  3. Filipino American Cannery Workers’ Unionism and the Murder of Domingo and Viernes
  4. Farmworkers’ History: The Chateau St. Michelle Grape Boycott and the Labor Archives of Washington’s second annual event Preserving Solidarity Forever: Washington State Farmworkers’ Struggles.
  5. Images of Labor and Social Justice: The Life and Art of Richard V. Correll






Finding Aids Moving to Archives West


This spring, Special Collections will transition its findings aids from our locally-hosted XTF site to Archives West, formerly known as Northwest Digital Archives.

Archives West, a program offering of the Orbis Cascade Alliance since 2007, provides access to descriptions of primary sources in the western United States, including correspondence, diaries or photographs. Institutions in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, Montana, and Utah have loaded descriptions (finding aids) of their collections to Archives West.  In some cases, digital reproductions of the materials are linked directly from the finding aids.

A finding aid is a detailed guide or inventory of the contents of a manuscript or archival collection. The guide provides a gateway to the collection because it allows researchers to identify the boxes or folders they will need for their research. A typical guide also provide biographical or historical information on the person or organization that created the material, an overview of the collection, and how it is arranged plus a detailed container list and any use restrictions.

What will Archives West add to the user experience?

  • It provides access to all of our finding aids.  Our old site is no longer being updated, so use Archives West to find the most current descriptions of our collections.
  • It allows searches across regional repositories. You are likely to find related collections held by other repositories in the Northwest.
  • It creates an updated search environment that will more readily display digitized content and enhance our collection descriptions with more search terms.

What can you expect in the coming months?

  • We invite our researchers to try the new site now.
  • A cut-off date for the current XTF site this summer (date to be announced).

Take the Archives West User Survey to win an Amazon gift card!

Archives West is conducting a two-part assessment of the recent redesign until April 15, 2016. They are looking for people who use Archives West to fill out a survey and to potentially answer some follow-up questions on how successful the redesign of the site is. If you are interested in being part of this effort, please go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/LFVBR6B. A  few individuals will be selected for follow-up questions – those selected will receive $10 Amazon.com gift cards.



Labor Archives of Washington Launches web archives on SeaTac/Seattle Minimum Wage Campaigns


This Thursday, March 3, the will mark the official launch of a new web archives documenting the historic $15 an hour minimum wage campaigns in SeaTac and Seattle in 2013-2014.

The project, a collaboration between the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies and the Labor Archives of Washington at the University of Washington Libraries’ Special Collections,  focuses on the SeaTac and Seattle victories, ensuring that scholars, activists, journalists, and students can learn from the minimum wage campaigns well into the future. The SeaTac/Seattle Minimum Wage History Project  is a digital repository of close to oral history interviews (videos, audio, and transcriptions) with key players, along with rally signs and campaign website captures. New sections of analytical essays, a timeline of wage increases nationwide, and other interview and digitized records will join the archives over time.

Guest blogger Conor Casey, Labor Archivist
UW Special Collections, Labor Archives of Washington

Pioneering Medicine

John McLoughlin. Marcus Whitman. David Maynard.

What do these three men have in common? In addition to being pioneer settlers of the Oregon Territory all three were also physicians. From the days of its earliest exploration, the Pacific Northwest has been shaped by pioneering physicians. The original culture of enterprise continues to this day as local physicians continue to make groundbreaking discoveries.

By the time the Denny party landed at Alki Point in West Seattle on November 13, 1851, physicians had already been active in the Pacific Northwest for years. John McLoughlin first arrived in Vancouver in 1824 as Superintendent of the Columbia District, establishing fur trade and overseeing operations of the Hudson Bay Company. Marcus Whitman founded the Whitman Mission near Walla Walla in 1843 and his treatment of Native Americans contributed to his eventual death at the hands of Cayuse Indians in 1847, along with his wife Narcissa and eleven others.

maynardUniversity of Washington Libraries. Special Collections. Photo Collection 563.

David Maynard, better known as ‘Doc’, traveled across the Oregon Trail originally settling in Olympia. In April of 1852 he laid claim to a section of 640 acres and moved his general store north at the behest of Seattle, chief of the Duwamish tribe, where he became the first physician to practice medicine in the burgeoning city. Because of his strong relationships with area tribes, Maynard put forth the name of Seattle for the young settlement, successfully convincing his fellow settlers it was a better choice over its original name Duwamps. This was the first of many innovations attributed to Maynard.


Maynard’s accomplishments have become both embellished and diminished by time as the result of Bill Speidel’s ‘never let the facts get in the way of a good story’ approach to history and Maynard’s early death in 1873 when Seattle was still getting its footing. Consequently, Maynard’s legacy was left to be told by the other members of the Denny party — conservative and teetotaling, two things Maynard was not — and, as a result, his name slipped from the early historical accounts of Seattle.

Yet Maynard has a long list of firsts attached to his name including the founding of the

maynard_1863The Seattle Gazette (Seattle, Washington Territory), 10 December 1863, pg. 2.

Seattle’s first hospital. The two-room facility, in what is now Pioneer Square, failed because white settlers refused to use the hospital after Maynard insisted on serving Indians, as well. Maynard was also the first Indian agent — appointed by Governor Isaac Stevens — because of his good relations with the local tribes. At various times Maynard served as a notary public, clerk of the court and school superintendent, in addition to platting one of the first maps of Seattle on May 23, 1853. He was admitted to the bar in 1856 after the only lawyer in town drowned. He also served as a Justice of the Peace, marrying early settlers David Denny and Louisa Boren — the first marriage in King County — on January 23, 1853.

Maynard’s generosity was also his downfall and he made and lost several fortunes during Seattle’s early years. Pacific Northwest historian Thomas Prosch described him as “a man of marked individuality and richly endowed with good qualities. No one could be more liberal and kind than he” in his biography of Maynard.

Maynard’s story is just one of those featured in an exhibit, Pioneering Medicine: Milestones from Seattle’s First Century 1850-1950, currently on display in Special Collections at the University of Washington. Like Maynard, many of the physicians were also civic leaders, organizers and elected officials involved with many aspects of establishing Seattle as a city to rival any in America. Join us for two gallery walks scheduled for anyone interested in hearing more about some of Seattle’s early physicians and their contributions:

  • Wed, January 27, 9-10am
  • Thu, February 4, 4-5pm

All are welcome!

Guest blogger Lisa Oberg, Special Collections

First Published Views of the Pacific Northwest

Tlingit women pick berries with a dog, Baranof Island Alaska, in engraving made by F. H. Freiherr von Klittlitz, from F. P. Litke’s Voyage autour du monde.  Atlas, 1835, plate 5b.


Travelers and adventurers today document trips with photographs and videos on social media, in published works, and in produced documentaries. The first travel writers to publish narrative accounts and visual depictions of the Pacific Northwest were eighteenth and nineteenth century maritime voyagers from Russia, Britain, France, Spain, and the eastern United States. Published accounts of their voyages were accompanied by illustrations depicting topography, people, crafts, and tools native to this region.

Illustrations of this time period started as sketches and became primarily copper engravings.  These informative, decorative, and didactic illustrations were commonly printed along with maps and charts as plates in a folio-sized atlas. Atlases and exploration accounts were, in first printing, sold as a set, on a subscription basis.  The publications offered never before seen views of far-away places and peoples.


Nootka carvings including masks and rattle, Nootka Sound, British Columbia, in engraving made 1778. From James Cook’s A voyage to the Pacific Ocean. Atlas, 1773-1784, pl. 40


UW Special Collections has an extraordinary collection of these travel accounts, including rare early editions.  Our online research guide, Images of Exploration, Discovery, and Early Settlement in the Pacific Northwest, introduces you to this collection and the fascinating stories of artists who accompanied explorers on historic voyages.  Like photographers and videographers today, these talented artists often wore more than one hat during the voyages, and some followed the project from start to finish.  Their illustrations became the first published images of the land and people of our region.


Nootka group in interior of house, Nootka Sound, British Columbia, in engraving made 1778 by John Webber. From James Cook’s A voyage to the Pacific Ocean.  Atlas, 1773-1784, pl. 42


John Webber 
Third voyage of James Cook, British (1776-1780)

John Webber, an Englishman of Swiss heritage, was the official expedition artist on Captain Cook’s third voyage from 1776 to 1780.  Upon return, Webber was responsible for reducing his drawings and paintings to scale for engravers. The Admiralty also hired him as “art director” for the 1784 publication, the duties of which included supervising the engravers and the printing of the plates.

Lieutenant Blondela and Gaspard Duché de Vancy 
Voyage of Jean Françoise Galaup de la Pérouse, French (1785-1788)

Gaspard Duchè de Vancy, official artist of the voyage of Jean Françoise Galaup de la Pérouse, from 1785 to 1788, was raised in Vienna and exhibited artworks at the Salon of Young Artists in Paris in 1781 and at the Royal Academy in London in 1784.  He was commissioned to execute several royal portraits including: Stanislaus of Poland, the secretary of the Kingdom of Naples, and Marie Antoinette.

A second artist, Lieutenant Blondela (first name unknown) was in the French military before joining the La Pérouse expedition.  While not officially assigned as artist to the expedition, Blondela’s talents were a great asset to the voyage’s visual record. La Pérouse commented on Blondela in his journal, “he applies himself with a degree of assiduity, and executes with an intelligence, order and neatness, that are deserving of the highest encomiums

Chinook women rocking baby suspended in cradleboard in Oregon.  Engraving made 1841 by A. T. Agate.  From Charles Wilkes’s Narrative of the U. S. Exploring Expedition,  1845, vol. 4, p. 338.


John Sykes, Harry Humphrys, Thomas Heddington, and Zachary Mudge
Voyage of George Vancouver, British (1791-1795)

A gross oversight in Voyage of British explorer George Vancouver was the lack of an officially commissioned artist. Fortunately, there were four crewmen aboard skilled enough to provide sketches and drawings that could be transformed into illustrations for the publication.   These men were John Sykes, Harry Humphrys, Thomas Heddington, and Zachary Mudge.  John Sykes, a midshipman, was the most prolific artist. He created over 90 drawings throughout the voyage and his are the first depictions of the Puget Sound area.  Artist, William Alexander, was hired later to redraw the sketches in preparation for the engraving.

Louis Choris
Voyage of Otto von Kotzebue, Russian (1815-1818)

Louis Choris, official expedition artist on the Voyage of Otto von Kotzebue, was only 20 when he when the voyage began. Upon return, Choris solicited subscribers, who included the kings of France and Prussia, to enable publication of his Voyage.


Webber_image- sea horses
“A party from His Majesty’s ship Resolution shooting sea-horses”. This large picture of walruses being shot for food was painted after John Webber’s return to London from Cook’s third voyage (1776–80), where he was the official expedition artist.


Friedrich Heinrich von Kittlitz and Aleksandr Postels
Voyage of Fedor Petrovich Litke, Russian (1826-1829)

Russian explorer Fedor Petrovick Litke hired artists and naturalists Friedrich Heinrich Baron von Kittlitz and Aleksandr Filippovich Postels, who both contributed to the artistic/scientific evidence of the voyage.  Kittlitz’s job in accompanying Litke was to “hunt, collect, describe, and illustrate birds.”  Returning from the voyage, Kittlitz spent time assembling materials for his own personal account of the voyage (published in 1858) as well as giving scientific lectures.

Postels is described in the crew sheet as Mineralogist and sketch-artist. He was key to the expedition, producing sketches of amphibians and fish, as well as recording botanical and ethnographic material.


Haida in canoes watch the Discovery on the rocks in Queen Charlotte Sound, British Columbia.  Engraving made in 1792 by artist Zachary Mudge.  From George Vancouver’s A voyage of discovery to the North Pacific Ocean,  1798, vol. 1, plate 6.


Alfred T. Agate and Joseph Drayton
Voyage of The United States Exploring Expedition/Wilkes Expedition, American (1838-1842)

Alfred T. Agate, born in New York, executed most of the drawings in the Wilkes Expedition expedition report. Soon after the end of the voyage he died, at age 33, in Washington D.C.

Joseph Drayton, another of the expedition artists, saw the drawings through to publication. He made the engravings, oversaw the coloring of the illustrations, as well as the printing and binding.   In addition, he made the paper on which the works, engravings, and charts are printed.


Choris_image2 faces
Portraits of three Aleuts, ca. 1822, by Louis Choris.  From Voyage pittoresque autour du monde, Paris, Impr. de Firmin Didot, 1822.


Read more here.  Visit Special Collections for a hands-on look these at rare materials.   Our collections are open to the public.

Christmas 1881 in Astoria



In Evergreen Boughs and Mince Meat Pie, Polly McKean Bell tells a grand story of her family’s 1881 Christmas celebration in Astoria, Oregon. The port city at the mouth of the Columbia River was newly incorporated (1876) with a population of nearly 2,000.  The memoir details decorating Christmas trees at the church and the family home, baking sweets, hand-crafting gifts for and by all members of the family, and dressing in fancy new dresses and button boots to perform at the main social event, a program led by children at the church on Christmas Eve.

The climax of the holiday was the family visit on Christmas day to Aunt Eliza and Uncle H. (Hustler), a sea captain, whose life you can read about in this 1928 interview with his widow at age 94.  The couple and their Chinese cook, Wat Sen, served a Christmas feast of shoal-water bay oysters with lemon and cayenne pepper, roast duck, apple sauce and cranberry sauce, small oval mince pies, oranges, hot-house grapes, and a gift box of litchi nuts and preserved ginger. The celebration culminated with presents of exotic toys and gadgets from faraway places.  The girls received dolls, a miniature lacquer chest of drawers with metal pulls, a tiny lacquer work box with small compartments for a child size thimble and scissors. Her mother and father received a stereoscope with views from cities around the world and a barometer.  Above is Polly’s older brother on his new velocipede – the very first in town.

title page

photo of children

Polly McKean Bell (center) was born in Astoria 1876, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Terry McKean Jr. Her grandfather, Samuel T. McKean Sr., had come to Oregon across the plains in 1848, when Polly’s father was 8 years old.  She became widely known regionally for her writings and keen interest in historical affairs the area.  Her article entitled “A Pioneer Woman’s Reminiscences of Christmas in the Eighties” was published in the Oregon Historical Society Quarterly in 1948.  A decade later, she republished it as a small monograph shown here.  Our copy came to us by way of the Stewart Holbrook papers.  Polly inscribed the copy to Stewart – the two were likely well acquainted, as both were Pacific Northwest history authors in the Portland area.  She died in 1964 in Astoria and is buried at Clatsop Plains Pioneer Cemetery in Clatsop County.  The family papers are held by the Clatsop County Historical Society.