history

The Kalakala on the day she was to be scrapped. The unlucky vessel had shone on Puget Sound waters as a ferry between 1933 to 1967.
KUOW Photo/Carolyn Adolph

It was before dawn on Thursday, and the cold air off the Blair Waterway in Tacoma was damp and penetrating.

Karl Anderson, a mustachioed man in his 70s, stood on his company’s graving dock, waiting for the Kalakala.

American soldiers in presence of gas, 42nd division. Essey, France. September 20, 1918.
Flickr Photo/Otis Historical Archives (CC-BY-NC-ND)

To mark the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, University of Washington professor Robin McCabe planned a series she calls “Music from the War to End All Wars.”

The debut event includes professor Robert Stacey’s talk ,“A Gathering Storm? Artistic Crisis and the Coming of the First World War.” 

Matt Smith in "My Last Year With The Nuns"
John Jeffcoat

Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood is hipster central these days: the place to go for the latest in music clubs, trendy restaurants and street style.

That wasn't always the case.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer photo/Museum Of History & Industry

Did you know that fur is still a big industry in Seattle?

One of the main ways this region became settled and explored was by fur trappers in the early 19th century. And fur farms are still scattered throughout Washington.

This is the story of a man whose ideas could have saved a lot of lives and spared countless numbers of women and newborns' feverish and agonizing deaths.

You'll notice I said "could have."

The year was 1846, and our would-be hero was a Hungarian doctor named Ignaz Semmelweis.

A piece of the original Antikythera Mechanism. Divers found the first pieces off the coast of the Greek island Antikythera in 1901.
Wikimedia Commons

Jeannie Yandel talks with University of Puget Sound professor James Evans about the Antikythera Mechanism, which is believed to be the world's first computer. Evans and a colleague recently found the mechanism may be as old as 205 BC, which is 50-100 years older than originally thought.

It all started with milkmaids.

Edward Jenner, an 18th-century English country doctor, noticed that they seemed to be immune to smallpox.

And that was a time when smallpox was a truly terrifying disease. Each year, it killed hundreds of thousands of Europeans. It made people terribly sick. Its oozing blisters scarred many of its victims for life. And there was no cure.

When the federal government decided to make plutonium in southeast Washington, early farmers and whole villages of Native Americans were kicked out. Now, a new collection of oral histories tells some of these stories of the Hanford site.

A picture of the Kalakala ferry from 2001.
Flickr Photo/rbanks (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds talks with Knute Berger, columnist for Crosscut and Seattle Magazine, about the final demise of the famed art deco ferry, the Kalakala.

Via Crosscut

Seattle writer Knute Berger was combing through old articles when he spotted an unusual character: “A woman, dressed as a man, riding a bike recklessly.”

Most Americans know about the Underground Railroad, the route that allowed Southern slaves to escape North. Some slaves found freedom by hiding closer to home, however — in Great Dismal Swamp.

The swamp is a vast wetland in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. In George Washington's time, it was a million acres of trees, dark water, bears, bobcats, snakes and stinging insects. British settlers, who first arrived in 1607, believed the swamp was haunted.

By 1620, some of their slaves may have overcome that fear to find freedom there.

Thornton Wilder, the novelist. Storyteller Gary Heyde wrote him letters before his death.
Wikimedia Commons

In 1975, I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Someone handed me a copy of Thornton Wilder’s “The Eighth Day.” When I finished that novel, someone else handed me “Theopolis North.”

I decided I had to get in touch with Thornton Wilder. I remembered from the play “Our Town,” by Wilder, that little Rebecca tells the story of Jane Crofut getting the most amazing letter.

Alessia Pierdomenico/ Reuters

Breaking the code behind the Nazis' enigma machine was crucial to the Allies winning World War II.

The new movie "The Imitation Game" tells the story of Alan Turing and the machine he developed to break that code — known as the bombe machine. All that code-breaking took place at a British manor known as Bletchley Park.

And many of the great minds working at that top secret location were women.

Flickr Photo/Forest History Society

Duff. Fish wheel. Skid Road.

Long butt.

Few of us here know the Northwest words listed in the Dictionary of American Regional English because they harken to a time when fishing and logging reigned in Washington state – when skookum described a tough, hardworking guy and Skid Road was a street in downtown Seattle where logs were sledded down to the waterfront.

An African-American boy, George Stinney Jr., who was executed at age 14 in the killing of two young white girls has been exonerated in South Carolina, 70 years after he became the youngest person executed in the U.S. in the 1900s. A judge ruled he was denied due process.

"I think it's long overdue," Stinney's sister, Katherine Stinney Robinson, 80, tells local newspaper The Manning Times. "I'm just thrilled because it's overdue."

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