History, Theatres, and Libraries

Historic Theatres Library interior

Image courtesy of Seattle Theatre Group

Recently, on a cold and rainy Monday, a few of us from Special Collections took a trip downtown to the Paramount Theatre for a tour of the new Seattle Theatre Group (STG) Historic Theatres Library. The library, which opened in March, is devoted to collecting, cataloging, and preserving historical material from the Paramount, Moore, and Neptune Theatres.

On the 4th floor of the Paramount Theatre Office Tower, we met Marian and Lynn Thrasher, the driving force behind the installation of the library. Both longtime volunteers with STG, the Thrashers first dove into the history of the Paramount while developing a student-tour program for the theater. Inspired by its considerable history, Lynn decided to write a book on the Paramount and in the process, rediscovered a storage space overflowing with historical materials. While Lynn uncovered the material, it was Marian who woke up one morning and said, “We’re going to make a library out of this.” With the help of many volunteers, it took the Thrashers about 4,000 hours before the library was ready to open. The collection now includes binders containing a multitude of items from playbills to newspaper articles, all kinds of memorabilia on display, and even CD/DVDs of Paramount performances.

After exploring the library and perusing its contents, the Thrashers took us on an extensive tour of the Paramount. Beginning with the stage (empty after the recent departure of Wicked), we took a winding route along the back of the theater. As we were walking through hallways filled with decades of signed posters, dressing rooms (of both the stars and supporting cast), and the Ernestine Anderson Room – the Paramount’s “green room”, Marian and Lynn provided what seemed to be an inexhaustible supply of Paramount stories, information, and legends.

The Historic Theatres Library is open to the public, free of charge, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. For the whole Paramount experience, private group tours of the library and theatre can be arranged by contacting Marian Thrasher at library@stgpresents.org.


Free Ephemera Event in Tacoma

Crowd gathered for a speech in the Stadium Bowl, Tacoma, circa 1911

A special behind-the-scenes tour of the Washington State Historical Society’s extensive ephemera collection will be held at the WSHS Research Center in Tacoma on Saturday, May 14th from 12:00-4:00 pm.

Ed Nolan of the Washington State Historical Society will lead this introductory tour of the WSHS Ephemera Collection, discussing the steps in acquiring, cataloging and storing ephemera, and the many uses to which it is put.

Following the tour, Mr. Nolan will give a talk on a particular interest of his — Northern Pacific Railroad land and tourism promotional material from the 19th and early 20th centuries.

This free event, which forms part of the Northwest Regional meeting of the Ephemera Society of America, will be the first in what the organizers hope will be an on-going series of get-togethers of those interested in ephemera. The formal tour begins at 12:30 pm, but attendees are asked to have their lunch before the tour and to arrive around noon.

Numbers for the tour are limited! To reserve your spot, e-mail imprints@oldimprints.com or call Elisabeth Burdon at 503-234-3538.

The WSHS Research Center is located at 315 North Stadium Way, Tacoma, Washington. Full directions can be found here.

Image credit:  University of Washington Libraries Digital Collections, Order No.  WAS1048

Final AYPE Exhibit Tour Tonight

Former AYPE Forestry building being demolished, 1930.
Former AYPE Forestry building being demolished, 1930.

This evening marks your last chance for a free tour of The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition: When the World Came to Campus, led by exhibit curator, Carla Rickerson.  No RSVP or pre-registration is necessary for this one-hour event.  Just show up at 6:00 pm in the Suzzallo Library Exhibition Room 102 (just inside the main entrance to the building).

Image credit: Post AYPE Building Collection. PH Coll 778.  University of Washington Libraries Digital Collections Order no. UWCO159

UW AYPE Exhibit Tours

A reminder that the first of three free public tours of the  exhibit, “The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition:  When the World Came to the Campus,” led by Carla Rickerson, Head of Public Services,  will take place this Wednesday evening, July 8, from 6:00-7:00 pm in Suzzallo 102.

Additional tours are scheduled for August 12 and October 14 — same time, same location.

No RSVP or pre-registration is required.  For more information about the exhibit, go to http://uwnews.org/uweek/article.aspx?visitsource=uwkmail&id=50023

A.Y.P.E. Walking Tour on Campus

It would be an understatement to say that there is a plethora of events going on associated with the centennial of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition.  In fact, there is a handy community Web site available where you can keep track of the numerous activities that will be taking place in the Seattle area over the coming months.  This month, however,  features a free event that is taking place right here on campus.

On Saturday, April 25, 2009 at 10:00 AM, the first in a series of end-of-the-month walking tours sponsored by the Friends of Seattle’s Olmsted Parks will kick off at historic Cunningham Hall.  Although this event is free, you must register.  Full information is available here.

New MLIS student tour of Special Collections – success!

Nicole Bouche, Pacific Northwest Curator, lead a tour of 44 new Master’s of Library and Information Science (MLIS) students through Special Collections. Not only was the turn-out larger than anticipated, but the group was enthusiastic and had some great comments and questions.

One of the questions was, “What is the oldest thing in your collection?,” to which Nicole answered, “We have Medieval manuscripts, but the Buddhist texts may pre-date those.” Stay tuned….maybe we’ll get a firm answer from Rare Books Curator, Sandra Kroupa.