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Law and order is theme for Archives Month

News Release
Issued: October 02, 2012

Archives Poster

OLYMPIA...The State Archives might not have every episode of the long-running TV series "Law and Order" in its collections, but it does have an extensive collection of legal and historical documents and photos featuring criminals, law enforcement and courts in Washington.

This collection provides the theme for the state’s sixth annual Archives Month this October. This year’s official theme is, "LAW & ORDER IN THE ARCHIVES: Crooks, Cops and Courts."

The monthlong event, part of a national celebration, is co-sponsored by the Washington State Archives, a division of the Office of Secretary of State. To learn more about the State Archives, go to its Web site at http://www.sos.wa.gov/archives/.

Throughout October, the public is encouraged to explore, free of charge, millions of items through the State Archives and its Digital Archives, historical societies, museums, public libraries, and university special collections.

"Here in Washington, there are interesting stories about criminals – some notorious – and the admirable efforts of our law enforcement and courts to bring them to justice," said Secretary of State Sam Reed. "Thanks to our State Archives, an enormous number of documents related to crime, cops and courts are preserved for the public to see, and it’s exciting to make this collection this year’s Archives Month theme.

"I encourage people to go to one of the Archives events this month and learn how to explore a part of Washington history or even their own family roots," Reed added.

State Archivist Jerry Handfield says the State Archives, which is heavily utilized by lawyers, government employees, history buffs and genealogists, plays a crucial role in preserving Washington history.

"Thanks to our main State Archives office in Olympia and our branches throughout Washington, people now and in the future can learn about the people, events and stories that make up the fabric of our state’s interesting past. Whether it’s a famous Washingtonian or someone’s own family history, Archives can help direct you toward the documents and resources that will help you in your search," Handfield said.

All 31 days in October are devoted to helping the public appreciate and better understand the legal and historical records that protect people’s rights and property, and keep government accountable and open, said Handfield, who added that Archives Month is an opportunity to learn how to preserve personal records and how to use public records to enrich people’s everyday lives.

"Our criminal records, law enforcement records, court records and photos make up only a small percentage of the documents found in the State Archives," said Handfield, noting that Archives has photos, records and documents on many different subjects. "Our records on marriages, divorces, naturalization and crime can help you unlock family mysteries. You can even find a horse-thief in our Frontier Justice records that document all the court cases in the territorial era of 1853 to 1889. We have the know-how to help you research any aspect of Washington history, or your own personal history."

The State Archives is distributing free copies of this year’s Archives Month poster. The posters are available for free thanks to a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. The posters will be available by the second week of October in the Office of Secretary of State, located on the second floor of the Legislative Building in Olympia, and at the State Archives Building, located at 1129 Washington St. SE in Olympia. The posters also will be found in the Regional Archives branches in Bellevue, Bellingham, Cheney and Ellensburg. Supplies are limited.

People are encouraged to attend one of the free events and workshops being held throughout Washington in conjunction with Archives Month. They include:

  • Central Regional Branch Open House. Visitors can learn about the collections of historical records and get answers to questions about local history, as well as take a tour of the facility. Oct. 6, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Central Regional Branch, corner of 14th Street and D Street, Ellensburg.
  • Central Regional Branch Free History Day Workshop – Learn about primary sources that are available for classroom projects. The free workshop will also include primary and secondary source research skills, primary source content of U.S. and Washington State history, and research sources for topics that support the theme -Turning Points in History: People, Ideas, Events. Oct. 9, 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. Central Regional Branch, corner of 14th Street and D Street, Ellensburg.
  • Eastern Regional Branch Open House. Visitors can view exhibits and learn more about Spokane County’s colorful past, tour the Eastern Archives branch, receive help on projects, and learn information about volunteer opportunities. Light refreshments served. Oct. 20, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Eastern Regional Branch and Digital Archives, 960 Washington St., Cheney.
  • Then ‘til Now: A Historical Travelogue of Washington Territory and State. An illustrated public presentation by Lorraine McConaghy, author of "New Land, North of the Columbia," who will highlight the documentary history of Washington’s history from 1853 to the present day. The free program will interpret photographs, artifacts and documents to tell a compelling story of the state, and to dig into some lesser-known stories, too. From the Ku Klux Klan to the Wobblies, from suffragists to Rosie the Riveter, from Native ground to Washington state, this presentation will appeal to anyone interested in history. Oct. 11, 7:30 p.m. Whatcom Museum Rotunda Room, 121 Prospect St., Bellingham.
  • Basics of Historical Research Workshop. A free one-day workshop for those who work with historical records but may not be trained archivists. A cooperative introduction to primary-source, archival research offered by Washington State Archives’ Northwest Regional Branch and Western Washington University Heritage Resources. Oct. 20, 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Goltz-Murray Archives Building, Western Washington University, 808 – 25th St., Bellingham. Seating is limited, so register as soon as possible. Register by email to mvessey@wshs.wa.gov or by phone at (360) 586-0219, or by fax at (360) 586-8322.
  • History Day Teachers Workshop. Free workshop will include primary and secondary research sources for topics that support the National History Day 2012 Theme – Turning Points in History: People, Ideas, Events. Oct. 23, 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. Goltz-Murray Archives Building, Western Washington University, 808 25th St., Bellingham. Register by email to mvessey@wshs.wa.gov or by phone at (360) 586-0219.
  • Basics of Historical Research Workshop. A free one-day workshop for those who work with historical records but may not be trained archivists. A cooperative introduction to primary-source, archival research offered by Washington State Archives’ Puget Sound Regional Branch. Oct. 27, 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. 3000 Landerholm Circle SE, Bellevue. Seating is limited, so register as soon as possible. Register by email to mvessey@wshs.wa.gov, by phone at (360) 586-0219, or by fax at (360) 586-8322.
  • Northwest Regional Branch Fall Open House. Join the State Archives’ Northwest Regional Branch and Western Washington University Libraries Heritage Resources at this free event. Archives staff will offer guided building tours and the opportunity to peruse examples of Northwest Washington’s rich documentary heritage from the collections of Washington State Archives and Western Washington University. Oct. 27, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Goltz-Murray Archives Building, Western Washington University, 808 – 25th St., Bellingham.
  • State Archives Open House. Visitors will see some of the interesting documents in the State Archives and can go on a tour of the 1963 nuclear bomb shelter located within the facility. Date and time to be announced. State Archives, 1129 Washington St. SE, Olympia.

October was officially designated Washington’s Archives Month by Gov. Chris Gregoire.

Archives Month is co-sponsored by Washington State Archives; National Archives and Records Administration, Pacific Alaska Region; and the Washington State Historical Records Advisory Board.

For more information about Archives Month, contact Benjamin Helle at (360) 586-7320 or benjamin.helle@sos.wa.gov.

The State Archives houses nearly 2 billion legal and historical items and is the home for the nation’s first Digital Archives (located on the Eastern Washington University campus in Cheney), which preserves electronic records in an award-winning online database that is used by thousands of people every day. Check it out at www.digitalarchives.wa.gov.