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Many to thank for sesquicentennial project

Following is South Sound historian Roger Easton’s farewell column, marking the end of his weekly look back at the city of Olympia 150 years ago.

The city of Olympia is entering its 151st year. The sesquicentennial is over. But, in this final article, the writer would like to thank all of those who have expressed interest and have contacted him for further information. He also would like to express his gratitude to those who have aided him in his research the past year.

First, thanks to the city of Olympia, especially Cathie Butler, who graciously provided copies of early city documents. The reader can learn more about the city’s history at its Web site, www.ci.olympia.wa.us.

Of prime importance to this series was the Washington State Library, where anyone can read many of Washington’s early papers. Actual photos of historical publications – Olympia’s Columbian in 1852-53; the Washington Pioneer in 1853-54; and the newspaper used for these articles, the Pioneer & Democrat from 1854-61 – can be seen. To view these newspapers and many others, go to www.sos.wa.gov/library and click “Search Online Pioneer Newspapers.” At the right, click “Select a Newspaper.” You will see cities and newspapers listed at the left of the box. Select the date you wish, and that era’s newspaper will come up. Special thanks go to Marlys Rudeen and volunteers who have been scanning and indexing Washington’s early newspapers.

Much of the background of people and places mentioned would have been impossible without the aid of The Washington State Archives, especially The Southwest Regional Archives branch. Special thanks goes to staff Erin Whitsell-Jones, Benjamin Helle and Lupita Lopez. Deeds, probates, incorporation papers and many other documents were made available to the writer. Two Web sites for these agencies are www.sos.wa.gov/archives/archives_state.aspx and www.sos.wa.gov/archives/archives_southwest.aspx.

Finally, a very important source of information was the Washington State Digital Archives in Cheney. The first digital archives in the nation has consistently won prizes from Ancestry Magazine as one of the best genealogical sites in the world. Anyone can browse the many Washington records series by entering a person’s name. More than 26 million records will be searched, and every document containing a given name will come up with a transcription of the document and, in most cases, a photo of the original, downloadable or printable, all free. There are birth, marriage and death records; federal, state, and territorial censuses; military records; soldier’s home records; Japanese internment records; prison and reformatory records; and many more. The site, www.digitalarchives.wa.gov, is easy to use. Historic records coordinator Terri Huntley, based in Tumwater, works with the many volunteers constantly entering and scanning new data. She can be reached at terri.huntley@secstate.wa.gov.

On Jan. 30, the Secretary of State’s Office will present a workshop for anyone interested in family history. By using the local Ruddell pioneer family as a case study, the State Archives, the State Library, local heritage organizations and volunteer genealogists will combine resources to demonstrate how to unravel your family history. There will be open houses, tours, a welcome by Secretary of State Sam Reed, workshops and a shuttle/bus ride (or you can drive) to Ruddell Pioneer Cemetery in Lacey, where Reed will lay a wreath at Stephen D. Ruddell’s grave.

To RSVP or learn more, go to www.sos.wa.gov/ruddell, or contact Laura Mott at 360-902-4171 or laura.mott@secstate.wa.gov. Don’t miss this one, and thanks again.

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