Law and Original Order

Picture postcard, dated October 16, 1924, sent by J. C. [?] Browne to a convalescing Captain Michael T. Powers in San Francisco.

“…Powers was a patrolman in the lower end of town when Seattle was hardly the sort of city described in the Rollo books…” Unidentified newspaper clipping, (1914?), Michael T. Powers scrapbooks, volume 6

I couldn’t let Archives Month slip away completely without a somewhat relevant post. In case you didn’t know it, the theme of this year’s celebration in Washington State is: “Law & Order in the Archives: Crooks, Cops and Courts.” In searching for an appropriate collection to highlight, the eight volumes of the Michael T. Powers scrapbooks, whose catalog record recently received an upgrade, rather handily fits the bill.

In documenting the career and interests of the long-serving Seattle police officer, these eight volumes of scrapbooks are a rich and fascinating compendium of mostly-forgotten criminals, political scandals, and a whole host of other unsavory incidents from the 1890s to the 1920s. Powers filled a number of roles in the Seattle Police Department, including time spent as the captain in charge of the Ballard station. He retired from the force in 1923 and was briefly on the payroll of the Seattle Times before temporarily leaving Seattle for his native San Francisco, apparently for health reasons. Special Collections also holds a small collection of his papers, which contains several letters sent to Powers in San Francisco from his nephew, Ralph M. English (also an SPD employee).

Also to be found is this unsigned card, which, given the frequency that sports in general, and baseball in particular, are mentioned in the letters, probably originated from English too:

Baseball-themed card, possibly sent to Powers by his nephew, Ralph M. English.

So, whether you are celebrating the Giants’ victory or lamenting the Mariners, why not consider spending part of the off-season in Special Collections, where you might just develop some new interests before spring training (or the next Archives Month) rolls around.


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I joined The Shubert Archive as Processing Archivist in 2015, having worked previously at numerous archives and special collections, including the University of Washington, New York Public Library, King County Archives, and New York University. I earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from Hunter College, City University of New York and an M.L.I.S. from the Palmer School of Library & Information Science, Long Island University. I have been a Certified Archivist since 2005. Throughout my career, I have been active professionally and held several leadership roles. Among my favorites are: Dance Librarians Discussion Group convener and editor of the newsletter of the Performing Arts Roundtable of the Society of American Archivists. I also was involved with the American Theatre Archive Project, a national grassroots initiative dedicated to assisting active performing arts companies with the preservation of their legacy. In addition, I have significant experience as a freelance archival consultant.

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