Tag Archives: Seattle

Our city, our pets: Guest post from ‘The City Is More Than Human’ author Frederick L. Brown

Today we are featuring an illustrated guest post on the history of our favorite furry and feathered friends by The City Is More Than Human: An Animal History of Seattle author Frederick L. Brown. Brown was recently awarded the 2017 Virginia Marie Folkins Award from AKCHO (Association of King County Historical Organizations) for his book, published last fall, and also delivered the 2017 Denny Lecture at MOHAI.

Read on to learn more about the role pets have played in Seattle’s urban history!

Credit: Christy Avery

Dogs are rarely seen reading urban history – the bright-eyed fellow pictured above notwithstanding – but dogs have played a vital role in urban history. Over the last century, their numbers have increased dramatically. One rough estimate is that their population has increased from five thousand in 1905 to 150,000 today. The working dog is not absent from the city today: from guide dogs, to guard dogs, to dogs in police K9 units. Yet, the role of pure companion, with no expectation of work, predominates. Many of us couldn’t imagine urban life without our furry friends.

Credit: MOHAI, SHS12890

A century ago, dogs were friends to be sure, but also as guard-dogs, hunting dogs, ratters, and workers at other tasks. Often, the role of work and play blended. For instance, the dogs in the front row of this 1898 image of McVay Mill, in Ballard, may have blended roles as mascots, pets, and watchdogs. One newspaper ad from 1921 captured the mixing of roles: “Police Dog puppies. The most intelligent and faithful companion, excellent as watchdog and ideal as pet for children.”

Credit: MOHAI, 1974.5923.46; photo by McBride Anderson

Other dogs had a role as pure companions a century ago. Here for example, Priscilla Grace Treat cuddles her dog, around 1920. Seattleites had deep connections of love and friendship with their dogs. For instance, one family wrote of their German shepherd in 1935, “He is treated as a member of the family and with a laugh takes the rocking chair, when he feels like sitting in it.”

Credit: Frederick L. Brown

Cats generally have better things to do than read urban history, making this curious girl from the Central District hard to explain. But they too have been woven into the city’s history, since its founding. Cats’ urban role has perhaps undergone an even greater transformation than that of dogs. Before the widespread use of cat litter in the 1940s, it was considered unsanitary for them to spend much time indoors.

Credit: University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections, Hester 10587; photograph by Wilhelm Hester

A century ago, most cats had a working role killing mice and rats, in private homes and in businesses. They had an important role in any business storing, selling, or transporting food that might attract mice and rats. They hunted rodents on docks and ships and, many believed, afforded sailors good luck, making them honored members of ships’ crews, as their presence in numerous crew portraits attests. Here, the crew of the British vessel Penthesilea sits on the deck in a Puget Sound port in 1904. A crew member in the back row holds a cat.

Credit: University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections, Warner 3107 (detail)

Although cats typically had working roles in the early twentieth century, people also enjoyed them for other reasons. At the Warner residence in Seattle around 1900, a man and woman smile and watch a kitten.

Credit: Frederick L. Brown

Backyard chickens have become popular in recent years. Some refer to the pleasures of seeing chicken curiosity and their lively exploration of backyards (and even the occasional historical monograph) as “Chicken Television.” In the late 1990s, the Tilth Alliance found soaring interest in its backyard chicken classes. For some city-dwellers, these increasingly popular creatures are “pets with benefits” – the benefits being eggs.

Credit: University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections, KHL195; photo by Ambrose Kiehl

A century ago, backyard chickens were not primarily pets. They were a vital source of eggs, and also meat, to urban dwellers. Yet the daily act of feeding chickens allowed human connection, and children  especially, often saw them as pets. Here Miriam Kiehl holds a chicken for a portrait at Fort Lawton in 1899.

Credit: MOHAI, Seattle Post-Intelligencer Photograph Collection, 1986.5.4202.3

Yet, as The City Is More Than Human explores, chickens illustrate the paradoxes of urban pet-keeping. Backyard chickens have remained in the city, and yet increasing numbers of chickens live in large-scale operations far from the city. This battery for laying hens in Woodinville in 1935 was one step along that journey to greater and greater industrialization.

For every one backyard urban chicken today, there are thousands of chickens in faraway industrial-scale farms that provide meat and eggs to Seattleites. Some of the chickens, indeed, provide the meat that feeds urban cats and dogs. That moment of great connection and caring, when we feed our cats and dogs, is also a moment where we generally are ignorant of the lives of those faraway creatures. So, as we think about the wonderful place of urban pets in our lives, let’s also remember those faraway animals that are integral to urban life and urban pet-keeping.

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Frederick L. Brown holds a PhD in history from the University of Washington and works on a contract basis as a historian for the National Park Service.

Photo Essay: ‘The Hope of Another Spring’

This Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month we are excited to share special features with authors and editors of new and recent titles that celebrate Asian and Pacific Islanders in the United States.

Today we feature a guest post from The Hope of Another Spring: Takuichi Fujii, Artist and Wartime Witness author Barbara Johns exploring some of the most powerful and intriguing pieces by Issei artist Takuichi Fujii (1891-1964).

Her book, published this spring, reveals Fujii’s life story and work and gives a telling alternative view of the wartime ordeal of West Coast Japanese Americans. The centerpiece of Fujii’s large and heretofore unknown collection is his illustrated diary, which historian Roger Daniels calls “the most remarkable document created by a Japanese American prisoner during the wartime incarceration.”

Please join us to celebrate the publication of The Hope of Another Spring at these events:

Wednesday, June 7 at 7 p.m., Folio with Elliott Bay Book Company, Denshō, and the Wing Luke Museum, Seattle, WA

Thursday, June 8 at 7 p.m., Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, WA

Wednesday, September 13 at 7 p.m., Seattle Public Library, Central Library, Seattle, WA

Wednesday, September 20 at 7 p.m., Friends of Mukai at the Vashon Land Trust building, Vashon Island, WA

Friday, October 20 at 1:30 p.m., Walla Walla Art Club, Walla Walla, WA

The Washington State History Museum in Tacoma will present the corresponding exhibition, Witness to Wartime: Takuichi Fujii, from September 21, 2017 – January 4, 2018.

After the exhibition closes in Tacoma, it will travel to the Alexandria Museum of Art in Alexandria, LA from March 1 – June 27, 2018.


Takuichi Fujii (1891-1964), Chicago, ca. 1953. Fujii, pictured here in his early sixties, moved to Chicago after World War II. During the war Chicago became the center of Japanese America as the result of the War Relocation Authority’s resettlement policy. Fujii moved to the city after the war and spent the remainder of his life there.

Photo courtesy of Sandy and Terry Kita.

Fujii, High School Girl, ca. 1934-1935. Fujii immigrated from Hiroshima to Seattle at the age of fifteen, established a small fish sales business, and by the 1930s was a well-recognized artist. This painting pictures his daughter, a student at Broadway High School.

Oil on canvas, 22 3/4 x 29 in. Wing Luke Asian Museum Collection. Photo: Richard Nicol.

Fujii, Evacuation, 1942. Executive Order 9066, issued on February 19, 1942, authorized the army to establish military zones “from which any or all persons may be excluded,” targeting although not naming persons of Japanese ancestry. The mass forced removal began in late March, and by June, more than 110,000 Japanese Americans on the West Coast were incarcerated under armed guard. Fujii began an illustrated diary that he would keep throughout the war, and here, shows his family leaving home.

Diary frontispiece. Ink and watercolor on paper, image 4 1/4 x 4 in. Sandy and Terry Kita Collection.

Fujii, Diary entry, 1942. Fujii wrote, “We arrived at the Puyallup Assembly Center. Those who had been sent here earlier greeted us from inside the barbed wire.” Fujii’s diary, nearly four hundred pages of text and images, gives a detailed account of the “camp” experience from an inmate’s perspective.

Ink on paper, 8 x 5 1/2 in. Sandy and Terry Kita Collection.

Puyallup Assembly Center, Washington, 1942. Crudely built barracks on the Western Washington Fairgrounds and surrounding area housed more than 7,000 Japanese Americans from May to September. Meals, latrines, showers, and laundry were communal. Inadequate plumbing, noise, endless lines, and mandatory roll call were daily conditions.

Denshō, courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, LC-USZ6-1654, http://encyclopedia.densho.org/sources/en-denshopd-i217-00021-1/.

Fujii, Puyallup Assembly Center. In addition to his diary, Fujii produced well over one hundred watercolors that replicate or complement the diary drawings. He writes in the diary entry on which this watercolor is based, “The south side of the camp: the place where there was a tall watchtower.” His drawings and watercolors repeatedly trace the means of confinement and specify his viewpoint, positioning him as a witness.

Watercolor on paper, 4 x 6 in. Sandy and Terry Kita Collection.

Fujii, Puyallup Assembly Center, man standing by barracks. This watercolor enlarges a detail from the diary drawing, as Fujii continued to reflect on his experience.

Watercolor on paper, 14 x 10 in. Sandy and Terry Kita Collection.

Fujii, Minidoka War Relocation Authority camp. Minidoka occupied 950 acres of desert land in south-central Idaho and at its peak, housed over 9,000 Japanese Americans. This painting is one of three related images to picture this portion of the fence, including the tumultuous montage on the cover of The Hope of Another Spring. Fujii’s diary reads, “This is the barbed wire and [the scene] around Block 24.”

Watercolor on paper, 13 1/2 x 10 in. Sandy and Terry Kita Collection.

Fujii, Minidoka, pounding mochi for New Year’s day. At the end of December 1942, two generations of men pound steamed rice for mochi in preparation for the first New Year at Minidoka. An Issei, or immigrant-generation Japanese, he often contrasts his and the younger generation in his diary, but here, he describes their shared social celebration as “we pounded the [mochi] shouting enthusiastically.”

Watercolor on paper, 6 1/4 x 4 1/2 in. Sandy and Terry Kita Collection.

Fujii, Minidoka, drawing by flashlight. Fujii pictures himself in usual perspective as he draws inside his barrack, as if to make the viewer a witness alongside him.

Watercolor on paper, 14 3/4 x 10 in. Sandy and Terry Kita Collection.

Fujii, double portrait of himself and his wife, Fusano (on the left), ca. 1943-1945. This unique sculpted pair shows the strong, supportive union between Fujii and his wife. The dimensions suggest the wood was scavenged from fence posts when a portion of the hated barbed-wire fence was dismantled.

Carved wood, the taller, 9 x 4 x 3 1/4 in. Sandy and Terry Kita Collection. Photo: Richard Nicol.

Fujii, Diary entry, Minidoka, October 2, 1945. Fujii and his wife, having received eviction papers, await their departure from Minidoka to an unknown future. He describes the acute anxiety aroused by the announcement of the closure of the camps in 1945, particularly among the Issei, who had lost their homes, farms and businesses, possessions, and, for many of them, their health.  His diary is exceptional in recording his experience from the forced removal in 1942 to his leaving Minidoka as the camp closed.

Ink on paper, 8 x 5 1/2 in. Sandy and Terry Kita Collection.

Fujii, abstraction, early 1960s. Moving to Chicago after the war, Fujii continued to paint and experimented with abstraction in a broad range of styles. His work culminated in a series of bold, dynamic black and white abstractions in the last years of his life.

Enamel on canvas, 24 x 36 in. Sandy and Terry Kita Collection. Photo: Richard Nicol.


Barbara Johns, PhD, is a Seattle-based art historian and curator. Her previous books include Signs of Home: The Paintings and Wartime Diary of Kamekichi Tokita, Paul Horiuchi: East and West, Jet Dreams: Art of the Fifties in the Northwest, and Anne Gould Hauberg: Fired by Beauty.

Earth Day 2017: Climate Change Is Real

A lot has changed ahead of this year’s Earth Day, so in addition to featuring new titles in our distinguished environmental science and history lists, including books in the Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books, Weyerhaeuser Environmental Classics, and Culture, Place, and Nature series, this year we are offering a short reading list on climate change history and politics.

The University of Washington is also celebrating Earth Day 2017 across the Seattle, Tacoma, Bothell campuses, and beyond. Check out the UW Earth Day events page for more information. Follow #EarthDay and #EarthDay2017 for other events and activities near you!


Making Climate Change History: Documents from Global Warming’s Past
Edited by Joshua P. Howe
Foreword by Paul S. Sutter
Weyerhaeuser Environmental Classics

This collection pulls together key documents from the scientific and political history of climate change, including congressional testimony, scientific papers, newspaper editorials, court cases, and international declarations. Far more than just a compendium of source materials, the book uses these documents as a way to think about history, while at the same time using history as a way to approach the politics of climate change from a new perspective.

“Howe has done a huge service in bringing together, in one concise volume, many of the key documents related to the growing understanding of climate change from the nineteenth-century to the present. A must-have for anyone teaching or researching this crucial topic.”
—Naomi Oreskes, co-author of Merchants of Doubt and author of The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future

Read a commentary by the author about the March for Science on Process, the blog of the Organization of American Historians.

Other books for your climate change history reading list:

Behind the Curve: Science and the Politics of Global Warming
By Joshua P. Howe

Nuclear Reactions: Documenting American Encounters with Nuclear Energy
Edited by James W. Feldman

The Promise of Wilderness: American Environmental Politics since 1964
By James Morton Turner

The Carbon Efficient City
By A-P Hurd and Al Hurd

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Photo Essay: Hidden Treasures and Surprising Views from ‘Seattle Walks’

In Seattle Walks, David B. Williams weaves together the history, natural history, and architecture of Seattle to paint a complex, nuanced, and fascinating story. He shows us Seattle in a new light and gives us an appreciation of how the city has changed over time, how the past has influenced the present, and how nature is all around us—even in our urban landscape. With Williams as your knowledgeable and entertaining guide, encounter a new way to experience Seattle. Here Williams shows us some of his favorite hidden spots and surprising views of the city. Do you know them all?

Learn more about Washington’s urban history and celebrate the publication of Seattle Walks at these events:

April 30 at 4 p.m., Eagle Harbor Books, Bainbridge Island, WA

May 21 at 4 p.m., Village Books, Bellingham, WA

Scroll down to the bottom of the post to enter for a chance to win a free copy of the book (US residents only).


Discovery Park Terra-Cotta Figure – This is one of three terra-cotta figures, all of which came from the White-Henry-Stuart Block, which was destroyed in 1978 for the Rainier Tower. This one is in Discovery Park (Walk 9). Native American heads of the same design can also be seen on the Cobb Building downtown (1301 4th Avenue; Walk 5). With their feather headdresses, these figures are not based on local Native Americans, though they were made by a local craftsman, Victor Schneider, who worked at the Denny-Renton Clay and Coal Company. Schneider also created the terra-cotta triptych on the Seattle Times Building.

Credit: David B. Williams

$15 million sundial – This small sundial is on the southeast corner of the house built by Samuel Hill, a lawyer and railroad executive who moved to Seattle in 1901 (E Highland Drive and Harvard Avenue E; Walk 13). Hill began work on his Capitol Hill home in 1908. The quote on the dial is from Rowland Hazard, a woolen manufacturer and friend of Hill’s from Rhode Island, who had a sundial on his house. The former Samuel Hill house is now on sale for $15 million.

Credit: David B. Williams

Great Seattle Fire Plaque – One of several panels in Westlake Plaza created by school kids. The panels, based on geographic and historic questions and answers, are oriented in three rows each consisting of four question tiles and one answer tile. In case you don’t know the date, the answer is on a nearby panel (Walk 4).

Credit: David B. Williams

Waah! – Located on the Interurban Building (167 Yesler Way), the carved figure was done by an unknown artist for an unknown reason (Walk 5). Perhaps it was a colleague or the carver was simply having fun. Walking Seattle’s downtown core reveals a vast urban safari of carved and molded creatures in stone and terra-cotta.

Interurban Building / Credit: David B. Williams

Octopus’ Garden – Artist Lezlie Jane designed several parks along Beach Drive SW, just south of Alki Point (Walk 17). This piece and a 32-foot-long tiled wall nearby highlight the nearshore wildlife in Puget Sound. The Constellation Park and Marine Reserve is also the best public place in the city to learn about the constellations visible from Seattle.

Credit: David B. Williams

Seattle Skyline View from Dr. Jose Rizal Park – One of the surprising views from north Beacon Hill toward Seattle (Walk 14). The small green space became park property in 1971. Three years later members of the local Filipino community, part of which centered on Beacon Hill, worked with city local government to name the park in honor of Dr. Jose Rizal, a Filipino social reformer, ophthalmologist, poet, and novelist who was executed in 1896 by the Spanish colonial authorities in Manila when he was 35 years old. If you want the best views, come in winter when the park’s forest of red alders and bigleaf maples have dropped their leaves.

Credit: David B. Williams

Last Bluff in Downtown Seattle – When settlers first arrived in Seattle, most of the shoreline surrounding Elliott Bay was high bluffs of sediment. This bluff is the last one remaining in the downtown area (2000 Alaskan Way at Lenora Street; Walk 1). If you imagine yourself here in 1850, just before the European settlers arrived, you would have been standing on the shoreline. Another way to consider this landscape is to realize that most of the land west of the fence did not exist in 1850. It is all made land, created primarily by the building of Seattle’s original seawall and the filling in of the area behind it with sediment.

Credit: David B. Williams

Fremont Bridge – The view from Streissguth Gardens on west Capitol Hill (10th Avenue E and E Blaine Street; Walk 13). Started by the Streissguth family, the garden is now owned by the city.

Credit: David B. Williams

View over Puget Sound – The hill with the brick building atop it on Alki Point exists because it is consists of a layer of 23- to 28-million-year-old sandstone, known as the Blakely Formation, that resisted erosion during the last ice age 16,400 years ago (55th Avenue SW and SW Charlestown Streets; Walk 17). Imagine standing here during the last movement of the Seattle Fault about 1,100 years ago, when the ground rose 20 feet. Prior to the earthquake, the mound would have been a seastack rising directly out of the water. Perhaps at very low tide, you could have walked across a beach to it. After the uplift though, the mound and its sandy surroundings would have been thrust up above the high-tide line to their present position.

Credit: David B. Williams


David B. Williams is a freelance writer focused on the intersection of people and the natural world. His most recent book was Too High and Too Steep: Reshaping Seattle’s Topography, which won the 2016 Virginia Marie Folkins Award, given by the Association of King County Historical Organizations to an outstanding historical publication. Other books include Stories in Stone: Travels Through Urban Geology and The Seattle Street-Smart Naturalist: Field Notes from the City. Williams is coauthor of Waterway: The Story of Seattle’s Locks and Ship Canal. He lives in Seattle and continues to explore and travel through the city by foot and by bike.


Q&A with ‘The Deepest Roots’ author Kathleen Alcalá

In The Deepest Roots: Finding Food and Community on a Pacific Northwest Island, Kathleen Alcalá combines memoir, historical records, and powerful interviews in a charming and timely book that uses Bainbridge Island as a case study for thinking about our relationships with the land and each other. Alcalá meets Japanese Americans imprisoned during World War II, and learns the unique histories of the blended Filipino and Native American community, the fishing practices of the descendants of Croatian immigrants, and the Suquamish elder who shares with her the food legacy of the island itself. We spoke with Alcalá about the book, publishing this fall.

Join us for these events:

October 13 at 7:30 p.m. // Eagle Harbor Book Co., Bainbridge Island Museum of Art auditorium, Bainbridge Island, WA

October 19 at 7:30 p.m. // University Book Store, University District

October 20 at 7 p.m. // Third Place Books-Lake Forest Park

October 27 at 7 p.m. // Hispanic Roundtable of South Sound at South Puget Sound Community College, Latino Youth Summit, Olympia, WA

November 2 at 5:30 p.m. // The Butcher’s Table, “50 Minutes with…” speaker series with University Book Store (2121 Westlake Ave., Seattle)

November 3 at 7 p.m.  // Village Books, Bellingham

November 10 at 6:30 p.m. // Book Larder, Fremont

November 19 from 3-5 p.m. // Seattle7 Holiday Bookfest, Phinney Ridge

December 2 at 7 p.m. // Tattered Cover Book Store, Colfax Avenue, Denver, CO

January 10 at 7 p.m. // Elliott Bay Book Company, Capitol Hill

What inspired you to write The Deepest Roots?

Kathleen Alcalá: In 2010, I wrote an essay about two couples I knew who left other jobs to go into farming. It turned out, each had a fascinating story and philosophy of life to go with that decision. Readers reacted so strongly, I realized I had touched on something fundamental, our relationship to the land, and how people yearn to strengthen that relationship. As a writer of historical, family-based fiction and essays, this was a topic about which I knew zilch. I thought. Then I realized that this was the basis of that family history: our relationship to the land. Understanding this is so important to our survival, and the survival of this island in particular, that I decided to pursue the topic with further interviews and research.

What would you have been if not a writer?

KA: Perhaps an architect, if I had the skills. I am a very visual thinker. I’m very interested in how people relate to their environment through built, or human-made intervention. Architecture is a form of shelter, but how close or how distant it keeps us from nature fascinates me. What the wealthy think they need versus what 90% of the world lives with is also interesting to me, in terms of the built environment. As resources become scarce, or we realize how toxic many of them are, we need to rethink how and where we live and build, so I guess there is some overlap here.

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In Memoriam: Arthur (Art) R. Kruckeberg

Credit: Mary Randlett

Arthur (Art) R. Kruckeberg, University of Washington emeritus professor of botany, died on Wednesday, May 25, 2016, at age 96.

University of Washington Press is proud to have published several books with him over the years, including Geology and Plant Life (2002), The Natural History of Puget Sound Country (1991), as well as the classic Gardening with Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest. The Seattle Times called the book, “[T]he bible on how to grow in our own gardens plants native to our mountains, meadows, seasides, and forests.” Sunset magazine said, “This book contains so much well-organized, well-written material that it should become a standard guidebook for anyone who gardens with Northwest natives.”

In an obituary published on the Kruckeberg Gardens site, Richard Olmstead, professor of botany and curator of the UW Herbarium at the Burke Museum, writes, “Art left a legacy as a scholar, teacher, promoter of gardening with native plants, and conservation activist. . . . [Gardening with Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest] has turned on generations of gardeners to the joy and conservation value of using our native flora in home gardens. . . . A legion of friends, colleagues, and many who never met him, but were influenced by his work, will mourn his passing.”

University of Washington Press will publish the third edition of Gardening with Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest with Linda K. Chalker-Scott in Fall 2017.

In Memoriam: Anne Gould Hauberg

Fig_58-page-001

Anne Gould Hauberg at the Seattle Art Museum (now the Asian Art Museum), 1987. Photograph by Mary Randlett.

The University of Washington Press shares in the Pacific Northwest’s remembrance of Anne Gould Hauberg, an arts patron and advocate for the learning disabled, who passed away on April 11, 2016, at the age of 98.

Anne was born in Seattle, the daughter of the prominent Seattle architect Carl Gould, who designed the original Seattle Art Museum, now the Seattle Asian Art Museum, and 28 buildings on the University of Washington campus, including Suzzallo Library.

Anne and her husband, John Hauberg, founded the Pilchuck Glass School with Dale Chihuly in 1971. She donated most of her vast glass art collection to the Tacoma Art Museum and gifted pieces to Harborview Medical Center, the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, and The Bush School. She also co-founded the Museum of Glass and helped found the Municipal Arts Commission, which preceded the Seattle Arts Commission. Over the years, Anne supported the Press’s publishing goals as well.

Fig_57-page-001

Anne Gould Hauberg, at home in Seattle, 1966. Photo by Mary Randlett.

The Press is proud to have published Anne’s 2005 biography, Fired by Beauty: Anne Gould Hauberg, by Barbara Johns, and a 1995 biography of her father, Carl F. Gould: A Life in Architecture and the Arts, by T. William Booth and William H. Wilson. Anne’s devotion to the Pacific Northwest’s art and artistry plays a crucial role in Seattle’s history and we honor her memory this week. Her life will be celebrated on Sunday, May 22 at 1 p.m. at The Ruins.