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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Although I am a native New Yorker, I seem drawn to the Pacific Northwest. My current gig as Manuscripts & Special Collections Cataloging Librarian at the University of Washington Libraries represents my third stint out here. Prior to coming to the UW, I have worked at the New York Public Library, King County Archives, New York University, and Columbia University (to name but a few).

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