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About this collection

The items in this collection are housed in Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections in the Terrell Library.

The Collection:

This collection consists of 53 selected illustrations taken from the rare book, History of the Pacific Northwest: Oregon and Washington, Embracing an Account of the Original Discoveries on the Pacific Coast of North America, and a Description of the Conquest, Settlement and Subjugation of the Vast Country Included in the Original Territory of Oregon: Also Interesting Biographies of the Earliest Settlers and More Prominent Men and Women of the Pacific Northwest Including a Statistical and Graphic Description of the Climate, Soil, Productions, Industries, Improvements and Occupations, As Well as the Natural Advantages and Resources and Artificial Acquirements of the Great States of Oregon and Washington.


Sponsored by the North Pacific History Company of Portland, this two-volume book initially was intended as a forum for Indian War veterans to present their grievances and defend their wartime activities. The early settlers felt that, due to their government’s abandonment, they had been living “under a cloud, denounced as barbarians and robbers of the national treasury.” Elwood Evans, a well-known Northwest historian, was chosen to be the editor and main contributor. The identity of the illustrator(s) is unknown. Mr. Evans completed and published the volumes in 1889, the same year Washington was granted statehood.


While composing the history of the Oregon Territory from the early 1500s to the late 1800s (as seen from the white settlers’ perspective), Mr. Evans also profiled the leading citizens of the time; stressing the many sacrifices and hardships they had experienced while settling the area. Descriptions combined with illustrations of rich fields, thriving industries and prosperous, sophisticated towns were an attempt to justify actions taken to ensure this area was preserved for inclusion in the United States.


During the 80’s both Oregon and Washington were granted statehood. Oregon’s population increased by 80%, while Washington’s increased by 380%. This phenomenal growth enabled the Northwest to rapidly reach the sophisticated levels of economic and social development that were so valued in the East. The illustrations were intended to serve as a demonstration of this sophistication and prosperity.


Towns: Earlier writers claimed the status of a town could be determined by the appearance of its business district.The vitality of the major towns was depicted in drawings that showed not only hotels, banks, and office buildings in the downtown areas but also included streets populated with horses, carriages, and well-dressed pedestrians.


Timber: The economy of many settlements, particularly those along the Puget Sound, depended on the thriving lumber industry. The trees grew so close to the shore they could be easily felled into the water and then floated to a nearby sawmill. Lumber from this region was shipped all over the world.


Ranches and Farms: Eastern Washington’s and Oregon’s prosperity was built on agriculture. Cattlemen were the first pioneers in this area, drawn by the abundant grasslands. Farmers found that grain, hops, fruits and vegetable crops could flourish. Illustrations of thriving ranches and farms were included, as well as the flour mills and breweries which were built to process the harvests of these fields.

Residences: Fortunes had been made through lumber, farming, ranching, mining and the railroad. Many fine homes were built with these fortunes. Spokane, in particular, was a very prosperous town during this time and illustrations of several of the elegant housesare included in this collection
Many of the opinions and perspectives in the book are no longer considered politically correct; however, the illustrations are invaluable in their depiction of these sites as they were captured at that moment in history. In 1889 fires destroyed much of downtown Seattle, Spokane and Ellensburg. Many of the buildings pictured were no longer standing by the time this book was published.

Searching the Database

Entering search terms in the box located at the top left side of the page will search across all of the database fields.  Search results are displayed as a series of thumbnail images that may be browsed, both forward and backward. To view the larger image and its corresponding description, double click on the thumbnail.


Creating the Database

In 2002, Kim Prater, Maren McDaniel, and Steve McCann, graduate students at the University of Washington's Information School, described and uploaded these MrSid files to CONTENTdm database at the Washington State University Libraries as part of a course on Digital Libraries taught by Trevor Bond and Al Cornish. Original drawings and engravings were scanned in color at 600 dpi on a Microtek 9600XL scanner and saved as TIFF files. The TIFF files were converted into the MrSID format at a compression ratio of 12 to 1 using LizardTech's Geospatial Encoder 1.4 software. Al Cornish provided technical support for CONTENTdm.

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