Showing 39 results

Authority record

Citizen's Committee for Tacoma's Future Development

  • 1.7.2
  • Organization
  • 1957-1968

The Citizens’ Committee for Tacoma’s Future Development was created in November 1957 at the request of the City Council. The objective of the committee was to survey the six-year program (1958-1963) of civic improvements that had already been tentatively adopted by the City Council. These recommendations help the Council determine what will be on the municipal ballot in the upcoming election. Chairman at the time, Reno Odlin, explained in the 1957 report that, “it [the committee] was to determine and to recommend to the Council an order of priority and importance of the various projected outlined therein.”

The committee consisted of over 200 people, so it was divided into eleven subcommittees by the chairman with an overseeing executive committee. The subcommittees ranged in themes, and included street lighting, streets and bridges, sewers and drains, public buildings, off street parking, airports, golf courses, transit, urban renewal, finance, and publicity and promotion. The recommendations put forth were approved by the citizens of Tacoma in the spring 1958 election.

The Committee was re-activated in November 1962, with Roe Shaub as the chairman, to review to the civic improvement programs for 1963-1968. The subcommittees remained largely the same as before, removing golf courses and off street parking. The recommendations by this committee emphasized investing in public buildings like Tacoma Public Library and the Fire Department, and on improving streets and bridges.

The Committee was once again reconvened by Mayor Tollefson in November of 1965 to review the 1966-1971 Capital Improvements Program that was developed by the City Planning Commission. In the final report from the 1965 committee, Chairman L. Evert Landon commends the work of the nine subcommittees he appointed, in addition to explaining the legacy of the two previous committees, both which received Public Relations awards for their work. The committee endorses a slightly increased property tax and in the initiative by the Association of Washington Cities to “secure one-tenth of the estate sales tax revenue for cities.”

Tacoma Centennial Committee

  • 1.7.4
  • Organization
  • 1968-1969

In 1968 the Tourist and Convention Bureau of Tacoma chairman Din Fuhrmeister appointed a Centennial Planning Committee led by Don St. Thomas as the chairman, John. H. Anderson as general chairman, Norman D. Rowley as executive director as well as the formation of a non-profit corporation to plan and conduct the Centennial observance which took place the week of June 28 – July 5th, 1969. The celebration included Tacoma’s schools, businesses, industries, military, and various members of the community. Major events during the celebration included an opening ceremony, centennial parade, USAF Thunderbirds airshow, dance performances, concerts, US Naval Ship arrivals, and fireworks display.

Society of Professional Graphic Artists

  • 3.2.1
  • Organization
  • 1955-

The Society of Professional Graphic Artists is a trade association for freelance graphic artists. The Seattle chapter was established in 1955 under the name Art Studio Association of Seattle. In 1972, the group renamed again to Professional Art Studio Association and become the Society of Professional Graphic Artists (SPGA) in 1974. SPGA members voted to join the Graphic Artists Guild in 1993, changing the final name to SPGA Seattle Chapter of the Graphic Artists Guild. The group hosted educational events and art showcases including ArtJam, an exhibit of local artists, and workshops on copyright law, royalty-free artwork, and how to attract more clients. The SPGA offered legal and health services to paying members and focused on fair business practices and ethics regarding treatment of independent artists.

Tacoma Society of Architects

  • 3.2.4
  • Organization
  • 1920-1953

The Tacoma Society of Architects was formed in January 1920 and lasted under that name until circa 1953. The organization hosted events for professional architects in the Tacoma area.

Puyallup Valley Japanese American Citizens League

  • 3.3.1
  • Organization
  • 1930-

The Puyallup Valley Chapter (PVC) of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) was established in 1930,(1) but first appeared in newspapers on November 18, 1937, hosting a "bazaar" at the Fife High School auditorium, featuring prizes and a 26 pound turkey feast.(2) According to PVC member and Fife mayor Robert Mizukami, this type of event was typical of the group's social orientation during the pre-war period.(3) The fairs were intended as a means of "acquainting the public with the citizen's group and it's activities," which included ceremonial dancing, traditional dress and promoting the Japanese language schools that operated in neighboring cities of Fife, Firwood, Sumner and Tacoma.(4) The JACL consisted of Nisei, or second generation, Japanese Americans, rather than their parent Issei generation.(5)

On June 18, 1938, PVC president Dan Sakahara hosted an event introducing the editor and publisher of the all English language Japanese-American Courier in Seattle and national chairman of the JACL James Y. Sakamoto.(6) The difference between these two speakers was representative of the economic and educational rift between chapter presidents and JACL leaders. While Sakahara was successful, he sustained his family through farming on Vashon Island, just outside of Tacoma.(7) In contrast, Sakamoto made his living by skillfully navigating between Japanese and American language and culture.(8)

George M. Egusa (9) was elected president in 1939 followed by Lefty (Saturo) Sasaki of Orting, from 1940 through 1942.(10) Throughout this period the organization continued to hold public events demonstrating Japanese culture alongside patriotic adherence to American values. In a press photo from August 1941 at the National Bank of Washington, Lefty Sasaki is shown posing with PVC Secretary and Publicist Tadako Tamura and other group leaders around a banker's desk to invest in defense savings bonds.(11)

By that year, the JACL had grown to 55 chapters across sixteen states with Los Angeles holding a regular Nisei Week annual event.12 On October 30, the PVC hosted an event supporting National Defense Week to help unify efforts between the 250 Nisei soldiers active at the Fort Lewis Army base and Caucasian soldiers.13 The evening included an informal dinner with Issei family members, dancing and singing the American national anthem, "marching forward, arm in arm with their fellow young Americans." (14)

This purpose was expressed on a larger scale by JACL National Secretary and Field Executive Mike Masaoka earlier that month in a series of public letters to President Roosevelt and US Senators. Masaoka, a twenty six year old veteran and former professor of rhetoric at the University of Utah, (15) was asserting the patriotic loyalty of the JACL amidst rumors that the organization was acting as a fundraising branch of "Japan's war chest," and demanded "an investigation to prove our loyalty." (16)

Following the PVC's National Defense Week celebration at the Odd Fellow's Hall, soldiers from Fort Lewis turned out in droves at the Puyallup Valley Chapter's annual winter event on December 2, 1941 the largest in the organization's history. Over 1,500 visitors poured into the Fife High School gymnasium to celebrate the organization's "social, cultural and civic activities."(17) Five days later, the Japanese government attacked the American military base Pearl Harbor, which led to America entering WWII, causing a nearly immediate shift in the JACL's function up to that point. Four days after the bombing, Mike Masaoka issued his Japanese-American Creed, a policy of "unswerving loyalty" to the United States. In it, he pledges:

"to support her constitution; to obey her laws; to respect her flag; to defend her
against all enemies, foreign or domestic; to actively assume my duties and
obligation as. a citizen cheerfully and without any reservations whatsoever, in the
hope that I may become a better American in a better America." (18)

This same day the Tacoma News Tribune released a statement that there was a "flood" of applications for birth certificates amongst the Nisei community to establish their US citizenship. (19) Just as the organization had helped the community attain their driver's license registration in the past, (20) Lefty Sasaki of the PVC and leaders of the Tacoma chapter offered to help process these requests from many of the estimated 8,882 Nisei living in Washington as of the 1940 census. (21) This seems to be the inciting incident which caused some Japanese Language schools to reopen as headquarters for civilian defense, as was the case in Tacoma's Japanese Language School becoming the Japanese Community Center.(22) Schools that were not converted to these functions were shuttered by a resolution from James Y. Sakamoto on grounds that they would arouse "misunderstanding of the loyalty of Japanese in America." (23)

When Executive Order 9066 was issued by President Franklin Roosevelt on February 19, authorizing the forced "evacuation of all persons deemed a threat to
national security from the West Coast to relocation centers further inland," (24) these makeshift community centers across Washington became registration stations, which would facilitate the US government to route citizens to camps. JACL members also organized these efforts independent from the US government. As Seattle JACL secretary noted "We don't know where we're going- or when we are going but we do know we are going. The United States government has complete information about us, but we want our data, too." (25)

In the immediate aftermath of Pearl Harbor, the JACL leadership established working relationships with the FBI and naval intelligence officers to pinpoint "subversive Japanese organizations on the west coast." Recorded informants include JACL leaders Saburo Kido, Ken Matsumoto and previously mentioned Field Executive Mike Masaoka. (26) Masaoka maintained a working correspondence with Milton Eisenhower, the head of the War Relocation Authority (WRA), beginning in March of 1942, sending recommendations for how to operate the camps, which both parties attest to influencing later designs.(27) Masaoka also worked with the US government to indict possible Japanese American subversives in court (28) as well as before War WRA committee hearings. (29)

In early March 1942, Seattle JACL leader James Sakamoto spoke publicly about having an "intelligence unit" which collaborated with the FBI and explained how this
relationship could be used as a means of avoiding forced removal, suggesting that the Issei could be placed under custody of the Nisei. If the Issei generation didn't report twice a week to the Nisei, "the league's intelligence unit would inform the FBI." (30)

Soon after, Sakamoto's longtime newspaper competitor Dick Takeuchi, editor of The Great Northern Daily News in Seattle, submitted their final issue on the topic of expulsion, before Takeuchi himself was incarcerated at the Minidoka War Relocation Center. (31) The Great Northern's final issue was one page of English and seven pages of Japanese, consisting of the latest news and illustrated maps of the newly developed concentration camps, (32) including Camp Harmony in Puyallup, WA, where Sakamoto was elected Chief Supervisor on the 24th of April. (33)

"Camp Harmony" or the Puyallup Assembly Center, was really the Washington State Fairgrounds, converted into a series of barracks with a central mess hall over the course of 14 days. (34) Camp Harmony was staffed entirely by Japanese Americans, under the direction of the US military, so they might "resume their activities in Puyallup with as little inconvenience as possible." There is little hard evidence that this staff was made up of the Seattle JACL members that Sakamoto led, but some appointed staff, such as the Seattle Hotel Building Cooperation's William Y. Mimbu indicates that administrative positions were assigned to prominent figures in Sakamoto's political orbit. (35)

The Puyallup Valley Chapter leaders are nowhere to be found on this staff list, and at least one leader was incarcerated there. League Secretary and Publicist Tadako Tamura wrote this testimony for the Tacoma News Tribune just after arriving in Camp Harmony:

"At this time, we don't believe it necessary for us to leave a message of farewell
to this part of America. Or many Caucasian friends have bade us the most
reassured goodbyes 'for the duration.' The soil we worked... has become too
much a part of us to leave so easily. We hope the valley which was, and which is
our home, will continue to yield." (36)

In an account the following month, the Tacoma News Tribune caught up with Tamura building a small flower garden outside of her barracks in Area C, where other former
residents of the agricultural towns Fife and Orting had settled. This drive to get back to farmland and out of the camps was capitalized on by the US government who coordinated "emergency harvest camps" and "victory vacations," where young Japanese Americans were allowed out in order to compensate for the nation's recent agricultural vacancies. (37)

The article goes on to note an American flag floating over the entrance of Area C, which had recently been raised in a patriotic ceremony where Sakamoto was the main speaker. (38) This event was typical of the camp's emphasis on "the spirit of Americanism and democratic process," suggested by Masaoka in his April 6th letter to WRA director Milton Eisenhower. (39) While Masaoka's suggestions are generally concerned with education and maintaining civil liberties under incarceration, there is a dissonance in Masaoka's direction that "no intimation or hint should be given that they are in concentration camps or in protective custody, or that the government does not have full faith and confidence in them as a group and as individuals." (40) Masaoka indicated repeatedly throughout the 18 page letter that camps were intended to prove Japanese American loyalty, when their very existence demonstrated a government who strongly believed the contrary. In addition, demonstrating proof of innocence becomes exponentially more difficult from behind bars.

Tadako Tamura surfaces again in October 1942 as a contributing artist for The Minidoka Irrigator, the six page weekly newspaper for the 10,000 Japanese Americans incarcerated at the Minidoka War Relocation Center, founded by displaced Seattle newspaperman Dick Takeuchi. (41) The first two volumes traveled back to Seattle describing Minidoka as "a vast stretch of sagebrush, stubble and shifting, swirling sand... the sort of place people normally would traverse only to get to another destination." Throughout the course of 1942, the JACL lost favor within the community for failing to push back against the US military, deporting potential rivals and removing Japanese language reading materials. (42) Another issue which emerged over time was incarceration leading to seized property and land that the Issei had devoted their lives to developing. While these actions were brought on by major increases of Alien Land Law prosecutions, archaic legal holdovers from the nineteenth century which prohibited Issei citizens from owning property, very often, land titles were lost due to the chaotic nature of displacement. (43)

Faced with incarceration, former PVC president Dan Sakahara, who introduced James Sakamoto at a league event earlier, leased his farm on Vashon Island to Deputy Sheriff Finn Shattuck before he and his family were eventually moved to the Tule Lake Relocation Center in Northern California. Despite continued requests through 1944, Finn Shattuck sent no money for the crops harvested on Sakahara's land. When the family was freed, Dan Sakahara did not legally pursue the funds he was owed for his farmland, the largest acreage on Vashon Island, and instead chose to begin a new life in St. Louis. (44)

Following the repeal of Executive Order 9066 in 1946, the Puyallup Valley Chapter went dormant, not surfacing in newspapers again until 1958.45 According to future PVC president Robert Mizukami, (46) the reason for this was a scarcity of potential members. (47) This scarcity was described by Mike Masaoka, who emerged back into the public sphere in 1947 as the Washington D.C. Legislative Director of the Antidiscriminatory Committee for the JACL. In the article, Masaoka detailed the current state of Japanese American displacement. "Approximately 60 percent of the West Coast Japanese evacuated in 1942 have returned to the area... 15 percent have permanently settled in the East and Midwest and the other 25 percent are in a state of flux." (48)

This scarcity led to the Puyallup Valley Chapter and the Tacoma chapter combining members to reform the organization, with Kaz Yamane as PVC president and weekly meetings at the Tacoma Buddhist Church. (49) The group's ideology and mission changed in the chapter's reactivation. As Mizukami notes in an oral history conducted by the Densho Digital Archive, "it became more of a civil rights group than we were before. I think, like I said previous, prior to the war, it was more of a social group that did all these other activities. So since the war, I mean, its purpose has changed a little."

One of the most significant impacts that the organization made was the repeal of the Alien Land Law, which PVC president Dr. Sam Uchiyamo made a "prime objective" of the Northwest Council of the JACL beginning in 1960.50 After an extensive grassroots campaign organized by the Seattle JACL and defeated twice by referendums, (51) the law was finally repealed in 1966. (52) The repeal of the law wasn't publicly celebrated by the PVC, then led by Frank Mizukami. Instead, the league president appeared in newspapers donating copies of America's Concentration Camps, marking the 25th anniversary of the event,53 holding piano recitals for elementary school children54 and highlighting his expansive primrose greenhouse located in Fife. (55)

Since this accomplishment, the Puyallup Valley Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League has remained an active member of the Puget Sound community, contributing to a scholarship fund, (56) hosting historical programs for adults as well as school children (57) and continuing to host their annual cultural outreach events featuring ceremonial dance and traditional dress in Fife High School, just as they had in 1937. (58)

Ancient Order of Vikings, Ship Tacoma No. 1

  • 3.3.3
  • Organization
  • 1892-1955

The Gamle Vikingers Forbund, or Ancient Order of Vikings, Ship No. 1 was created in 1892 as an extension of The Haabet (Hope) Literary Society, which had been active in the Tacoma community since 1890, providing an “English school for newcomers.” The organization, whose motto was “Brotherhood, Protection and Charity” included the founding members: Chas. Evans, Engvald Haug, Chas. Woog, Severin Haug, Ole Moen, Dirk Blaauw, G.O. Sande, C. Knutson, N.L. Ormsrud, Haakon Bader and Tom Knudson.

The society first appeared in newspapers in 1895, holding their annual celebration of Norway’s May 17th Constitution Day, which would frequently be attended by Tacoma political figures, including Mayor George P. Wright and accompaniment from the Walhalla Military Band. The organization also held annual Christmas celebrations which featured both Christian and Norse ceremonies, including a “representation of the ancient offering of sacrifice to Odin and Thor.”

In 1905, the society reserved a special train for members to visit Portland’s Lewis and Clark exposition together. In 1908, the 220 member organization purchased three acres in the north side of Fox Island at the entrance of Hales Passage for a lodge and picnic grounds for $50,000. The Ancient Order of Vikings eventually sold this property in order to invest in the Normanna Hall building at 1502 Martin Luther Way.

In 1941, the society donated their “Viking Library” to the Pacific Lutheran University, which included items which dated back to the Haabet Literary Society. Although the organization seems to have waned and revived on multiple occasions, a typed note within Log Book Six written by historian Hjalmer Jensen describes the final meeting of the order taking place on February 2nd, 1955.

League of Women Voters of Tacoma-Pierce County

  • 3.4.3
  • Organization
  • 1920-

As the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote was passed by Congress in 1919, the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) reorganized to form the National League of Women Voters. Women in the Tacoma area had been active in statewide and national efforts to secure voting rights for women. Emma Smith DeVoe, of Parkland, served as President of the National Council of Women Voters which provided assistance and support to new voters in states where suffrage for women had been secured. In March 1919, DeVoe attended the NAWSA convention in St. Louis where President Carrie Chapman Catt began the National League of Women Voters. In January 1920, DeVoe and other local members of the National Council of Women Voters joined this national effort and converted to the state League of Women Voters in Tacoma. The Tacoma League began the Woman Voter newspaper in 1922 and took an active role in local politics. While the League became involved in work around restructuring city government as early as 1946, it wasn’t until the 1950s that membership expanded as a result of increased attention to local politics and restructuring efforts. By the end of the 1950s, there were 200 members of the Tacoma league. As more women joined from other areas of Pierce County, the League began to expand their focus to cover local issues outside of the City of Tacoma. In 1962, the group officially became the League of Women Voters of Tacoma-Pierce County to reflect their broader membership and scope. In 1974, the League dropped their requirement that members be women to join, allowing anyone with an interest in local political engagement to become involved. The group continues to produce and distribute The Voter newsletter. They also produce studies on a range of local and regional political topics and TRY (They Represent You) directories of elected officials in Pierce County.

Altrusa International Club of Tacoma

  • 3.4.4
  • Organization
  • 1938-?

Altrusa International Club was originally founded in 1917 in Tennessee. The purpose of Altrusa is to provide a location for women leaders in professions to work together to help their local community and world. Altrusa International Club of Tacoma was organized December 7th, 1938, and chartered April 26th, 1941. The group had biweekly meetings, starting in September of the year, and ending in July of the next year for the summer months. Lyle Ford Drushel, former Dean of Women at the College of Puget Sound was elected the first president of Altrusa in 1939. New leaders were elected at the end of every member year in June and July.

The women that were members of Altrusa were given roles to fulfill, such as President, Treasurer, Historian, Secretary, and others. These women organized different social engagements, dinners, and volunteer opportunities. Early on, Altrusa members focused on hosting dinners and fundraisers to donate money to organizations in need. Some examples of this are donating bone tools to Mary Bridge Hospital, purchasing war bonds, and donating money to UNICEF. Later in its history, Altrusa organized events and fundraisers to provide welcoming shelter for those affected by crime and homelessness, donated scholarships to college students in healthcare and education fields in the Tacoma/Pierce County area, and organized donation drives to help children access age-appropriate books.

National League for Woman’s Service of Pierce County

  • 3.4.7
  • Organization
  • 1917-1918

The object of the National League for Woman’s Service was “to coordinate and standardize the work of women of America along lines of Constructive Patriotism, to develop the resources and to promote the efficiency of women in meeting their every-day responsibilities to Home, to State, to Nation and to Humanity; to cooperate with the Red Cross and other agencies in meeting any calamity-fire, flood, famine, economic disorder, etc. And in time of war to supplement the work of the Red Cross, the Army and navy, and to deal with questions of women’s work and women’s welfare.” [1] This league was created when the United States began to enter into World War I in early 1917, with the Tacoma Daily Ledger reporting on March 29, 1917, that “this emergency organization has been formed as the result of the bitter experience of European nation in the present terrific struggle. Germany had already carefully cataloged the industrial strength of her women and had little difficulty in making the necessary rearrangement which freed thousands of men from industry.” [2]
The Tacoma Daily Ledger reported on May 6, 1917 that 800 women had signed up for service, quoting the State Vice Chairman for the league in explaining, “this National League for Women’s Service means right now simply an opportunity for American Women to show their patriotism in tangible form.” [3]

Orpheus Club

  • 3.5.1
  • Organization
  • 1903-c. 1990s

The Orpheus Club of Tacoma was founded on May 4, 1903, at St. Luke’s Parish House. Their first appearance as a chorus fell on the evening of Wednesday February 3, 1904, at the First Presbyterian Church of Tacoma for a memorial and benefit concert in order to aid the family of William Buchanan Gibbons. (1) The first official concert as a club was the night of Monday June 20, 1904, at the Masonic Temple. Inaugural concert members included Dr. A. Draper Coale, Charles A. Hook, Ralph C. Cunningham, Thomas J. Handforth, Walter E. Liggett, Donald McPherson, Jonathan Smith, William A. Bull, Robert Davies, William W. Seymour, George A Stanley, Orrello C. Whitney, Charles S. Crowell, Herman A. Lembke, Harry R. Maybin, Louis W. Pratt, Dr. Benjamin S. Scott, Paul Shaw, Gilbert G. Chapin, W. P. Cameron, George S. Davis, William W. Dow, Samson E. Tucker, Dr. Randall Dow, Samson E. Tucker and Dr. Randall S. Williams, and Keith J. Middleton. There were 700 guests in attendace. The following day the Tacoma News stated: “In attack, volume and tone, shading, color, balance of parts and harmonious blending of voice, points which make or mar in choral singing, all these were notably good, and the result in the ensemble was complimentary in the highest degree to the musical intelligence of the club and the skill of its director.” (2)

During the clubs’ peak years of the 1930s, membership reached 72 active members. Throughout the century, the Orpheus Club performed at various notable locations including the Stadium Bowl, Camp Lewis Theater, Tacoma Theatre, Chamber of Commerce, the Veterans Hospital, the Masonic Home, Cushman Hospital and McNeil Island. (1) The club performed in the Pacific Northwest region at least twice a year since their Inauguration through the mid-1990s. (2)

Broadway Theater District Task Force

  • 3.5.10
  • Organization
  • 1989-?

The Broadway Theatre District Taskforce was established 1989 to “create and oversee the vision” of the Broadway Theatre District Campaign. The Broadway Theatre District Campaign began in 1988 as an initiative by the Executive Council for the City of Tacoma in order to establish permanent, modern facilities within which the Tacoma Actors Guild could operate. Inspired by the Portland Performing Arts Center, the goal of the campaign was to provide physical space for Tacoma’s cultural development and to help “revitalize” the downtown area per the 1987 American Cities Plan for the Central business District of the City of Tacoma. The plans included expanding the Pantages Theatre to include the adjacent Jones Building and the renovation of the entryway of the Pantages Theatre into an art gallery. The Rialto Theatre, built in 1918, was renovated by 1991, and the campaign also worked directly with Pierce Transit to incorporate public transport into the district. The Theatre on the Square Building was newly constructed during the project for the purpose of housing the Tacoma Actor’s Guild.

Tacoma Writers Club

  • 3.5.11
  • Organization
  • 1919-2015

The Tacoma Writers Club was a creative writing organization that operated in Tacoma between 1919 and 2015. The club aimed to provide exposure to local writers and opportunities for members to workshop their writing, generally short form fiction. Notable members include Maggie Kelly, a columnist at Senior Scene Newspaper, Freda Matlock, a spoken word poet, and Amelia Haller, a local poet whose poem is etched in glass at the trolley stop in front of the Washington History Museum in Tacoma.

Wyche Story League

  • 3.5.12
  • Organization
  • 1935-1961

The Wyche Story league was founded in 1935 in Des Moines, WA and disbanded in 1961. An organization for creative writing, the league held meetings and hosted writing workshops and other events. These records contain programs from story-telling events in Washington, and the meeting minutes and scrapbooks created by the league.

Bing Crosby Historical Society

  • 3.5.13
  • Organization
  • 1978-1993

The Bing Crosby Historical Society was formed in 1978 as a fan club for the singer Bing Crosby. It was founded by Kenneth Twiss, who was the President of the Society until he stepped down due to health concerns. The Society published quarterly newsletters about the life of Crosby, important dates in his life and career, and society updates. Annual gatherings were also planned and hosted by the Society, with speakers attending that had known Crosby during his life. The BCHS held a small museum and displayed memorabilia until 1993, when it closed due lack of funding.

Tacoma Actors Guild

  • 3.5.2
  • Organization
  • 1978-2007

The Tacoma Actors Guild was founded in 1978 by college professors Bill Becvar and Rick Tutor as a professional theater company. Their first production was "Guys and Dolls." Over their years of operation, the Guild produced musicals, plays, and educational programs. The executive committee made the decision to suspend Tacoma Actors Guild operations in December 2004 due to ongoing financial troubles. The organization had been experiencing losses in the previous few years before the shutdown was announced, and additionally they owed a considerable amount to creditors. However, the Bellevue Civic Theater decided to stage and produce shows for two and a half years in hopes to give TAG time to regroup and continue their work. While that, alongside the leadership of a new executive director provided some improvements, the financial situation failed to change enough, causing the Actors Guild to officially shut its doors in March 2007, following the final production of “Proof.” TAG’s playwright at the time commented, “It's not an easy decision to pull the plug, but the professional midsize theater model is hard to maintain these days."

Tacoma Art Museum

  • 3.5.8
  • Organization

The Tacoma Art Museum was developed out of the Tacoma Art League, which was founded in 1891. It was incorporated as the Tacoma Art Society in the 1930s and took its present name in 1964. Since 1934 the museum has built a permanent collection that includes works by Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, Edward Hopper, Jacob Lawrence, Robert Rauschenberg, Pierre Auguste Renoir, John Singer Sargent, and Andrew Wyeth.

The museum has been exhibiting works by the Pacific Northwest glass artist Dale Chihuly since 1968. Chihuly grew up in Tacoma. Other Pacific Northwest artists represented include painters Rick Bartow, Fay Jones, and Jacob Lawrence, and printmaker Anne Siems, among many others. The museum also showcases traveling exhibitions such as “Picasso: Ceramics from the Marina Picasso Collection” and “Landscape in America 1850-1890.”

In May 2003, the Tacoma Art Museum moved into a new building located at 1701 Pacific Avenue. Designed by Antoine Predock, the 50,000-foot building has a stainless steel and glass exterior. The Museum appointed a new chief curator, Patricia McDonnell, in May 2002. McDonnell was chief curator and adjunct art history professor at the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

Poetry Appreciation Club

  • 3.5.9
  • Organization
  • 1934- c. 1984

The Poetry Appreciation Club Tacoma was founded in 1934 by Flora C. Rosenberg (maiden name Goodale and also referred to as M.M. Rosenberg). Flora Rosenburg was a Tacoma poet who served as president of the P.T.A and of the Tacoma Women’s Club. The meetings took place at her house and the bylaws were written in November 1934. In a tribute to Flora Rosenburg after her unexpected death in 1937, fellow members of the poetry club wrote “Due to the wise guidance of Mrs. Rosenberg, her laboring unselfishly to plan and work out our lesson sheets...the members of this class have a comprehensive and invaluable outline on the art of verse writing.”

As time passed and membership changed, the club continued to meet, and took detailed records of their activities with meeting minutes, lesson plans, and yearly scrapbooks. The closing of the summary letter from the Secretary- Treasurer from 1975-1976 reads “may each member have more knowledge, deeper friendships and special memories to remember this year.” The summaries of yearly activities emphasize both the study of poetry and social activities, mentioning luncheons and Christmas gift exchanges. Additionally, the club had a collection of their own writings compiled together under the name ‘The Quest.’ The lesson plans throughout the years ranged from poetry form and techniques to Shakespeare, Black poets, Poems from the Bible, and French poetry. The club meeting continue to show up on the weekly bulletin in the Tacoma News Tribune until December 1984.

The Tacoma Mountaineers

  • 3.6.1
  • Organization
  • 1912-

The Mountaineers was founded in 1906. The following year, Charles and Henry Landes organized the first Tacoma area Mountaineers Local Walk. The walk, from American Lake to Steliacoom, was the third official outing of the The Mountaineers organization. The "Auxiliary to the Mountaineers" was organized in Tacoma in March of 1912. The Tacoma branch was active in organizing multi-day excursions in Longmire and Paradise. During the Great Depression, the group purchased the "Irish Cabin" and surrounding 18 acres of land near the Carbon Rover entrance to Mount Rainier National Park. The Cabin provided a gathering place for chapter events and sleeping quarters for 60 members at a time. The group maintained the cabin until 1978. In 1956, they opened the Tacoma Program Center in Old Town. The building was designed by Silas Nelson of Tacoma. The group hosts excursions, events, classes, and youth programs.

Member Biographies

Catherine Seabury

Catherine Seabury (1880-1970) was an active member of the Tacoma Branch of the Mountaineers, participating in outings and climbs and contributing photographs to the Mountaineer Bulletin. Originally from Peoria, Illinois, by 1919 she and her widowed mother were living together in Tacoma at 3810 N Washington, where she cultivated prize-winning roses. She was employed as a teacher at Sherman and Point Defiance Elementary Schools among others and spent additional time in the mountains at the family cabin in Paradise Valley. She moved to the Franke Tobey Jones Home in 1937, and died in Tacoma in 1970 at the age of 89.

Alma Wagen

Alma Wagen (1878-1967) was the first woman employed as a climbing guide at Mount Rainier National Park. Born in Minnesota, Alma arrived in Tacoma after graduating from the University of Minnesota. First employed at Whitman School, she taught mathematics at Stadium High School beginning in 1909 and had joined the Mountaineers by 1913. Her summer vacations were spent trekking in the Cascade and Olympic Mountains in Washington, Glacier National Park, and Alaska. In 1915 she summited Mt. Rainier for the first time, with a Mountaineer party. When World War I created a shortage of available men, she joined the National Park Service and was the first female guide to work at Mount Rainier. She guided John D Rockefeller, Jr. and his party “like a master”, according to Joseph Hazard, chief climbing guide at the time. In the spring of 1922 she moved to Yosemite National Park, and by the summer had returned to Rainier.

In 1926 at the age of 48 she retired from guiding and married Dr. Horace J Whitacre. A widower with two young sons, he too was a Mountaineer as well as a tennis player and yachtsman. He was a fellow of the American College of Surgeons, and the North Pacific Surgical Society, president of Tacoma Rotary Club as well as president of the Tacoma Chamber of Commerce. Alma began to be active in civic affairs, being chosen in 1933 to lead Tacoma women in implementing the National Recovery Act. She then served as president of the Ladies’ Auxiliary of the Washington State Medical Association, president of the Tacoma Y.W.C.A., and hosted dinners and gatherings at her home at 3803 N Monroe St. After the death of her husband in 1944, she moved to Claremont, California. There she competed in numerous bridge tournaments and did fund-raising for the local Community Chest. She died in 1967 at the age of 89 and is buried at New Tacoma Cemetery.

Willard G. Little

Willard G. Little (1870-1955) and Walter S. Little (1874-1958) arrived in Tacoma from Minnesota with their parents in the first decade of the 1900s. The two brothers remained close their entire lives, Walter living at 2121 N Washington with their parents, and Willard moving one block away, at 2219 N Washington, where he raised his family while working as an accountant. They both joined the Mountaineers, as well as the North End Shakespeare Club, and Willard also named his son Walter (B.). Walter (S.) was employed by the Bank of California and remained single. Willard chaired the Tacoma Branch of the Mountaineers from 1933-1936. It is thought that the photo album in the collection depicts him at this time, although the principal subject is referred to only as “he who needs no introduction”.

Willard’s son Walter B. Little (1909-2002) participated in the Tacoma chapter as a young man, then moved to Seattle and was very active in the Mountaineers there. He would be instrumental in developing the practice of ski mountaineering in Washington State through his work with the club.

Stella Kellogg

Stella Kellogg (1896 -1972) was born in Wyoming and moved to Tacoma in 1927. A member of the Mountaineers from 1931, she climbed the six major Cascade volcanic peaks and was recognized with an award in 1970. She was employed as executive secretary by the Pierce County Tuberculosis and Respiratory Disease Association for 34 years. Active in civic affairs, she was a charter member of the Tacoma Altrusa Club, a member of the University-Union Club, Tacoma Audubon Society and an alumna of the Kappa Delta sorority. She remained single and died in Tacoma at the age of 76.

Minnie Hutchinson

Minnie Hutchison (also Hutchinson) (c.1876- c.1941) was a member of the Tacoma Mountaineers c.1908 - 1917. In 1915, she participated in a publicity stunt developed to promote tourism and bring attention to Tacoma and its proximity to Mount Rainier National Park. On April 27, four cars and a Milwaukee Road train left Tacoma in a race to Ashford. A film cameraman, B.B.Dobbs of the Hobbs Totem Film Company was on hand to document the event and produce a film. Titled “Fours Hours From Tacoma to the Glaciers”, the film was intended to be shown at the San Francisco Panama-Pacific International Exposition and elsewhere. Minnie was a passenger in a car driven by Mrs. O.H. Ridgeway. They drove the 48 miles to Ashford and arrived first before the other three cars, although the train had bested them by just minutes. A prize consisting of a bag of gold coins worth $1000 was awarded to the train personnel, who promptly transferred it to the Mrs.Ridgway. Both before and after the race, promotional events and photographs were arranged, in which Minnie took part.

She worked as an assistant to her brother Ralph Hutchison, a dentist. At some point after his death in 1931, she moved to Oregon and was employed as a housekeeper.

A.H. Denman

Asahel H. Denman (1859-1941) was a principal founder of the Tacoma Branch of the Mountaineers. In 1912, along with John B. Flett and Harry Weer, he organized the meeting that established its by-laws and constitution. He was elected chairman and started the Tacoma winter outings that year.

Born in in New York, he studied law at the State University of Iowa, graduating in 1885. By 1890 he had arrived in Tacoma and began practicing law here in 1894. He joined the Mountaineers in 1909 and climbed the six principal peaks of the Cascades, as well as organizing and participating in many annual and local outings. An avid amateur photographer, he concentrated on documenting the features of Mount Rainier, two of which were named for him (Denman Falls and Denman Peak). He provided photographs and articles to the Mountaineer Bulletin, and delivered illustrated lectures to church and school groups around the state. He advocated changing the mountain’s name to Mount Tacoma and in 1924 wrote a book presenting his views, The Name of Mount Tacoma. He never married and died in Tacoma at the age of 81.

John F. Gallagher Jr.

John F. Gallagher, Jr. (Jack) (1925-2015) was born in Tacoma, and had joined the Tacoma Branch of the Mountaineers by the age of thirteen. He attended Stadium High School and was active in Boy Scouts, attaining the rank of Eagle Scout. He enlisted in the US Navy in World War II, serving in the Pacific aboard the USS Wilkes-Barre. In 1950, he received a BS in Civil Engineering from Santa Clara University and began his career with the Washington State Department of Transportation as a project engineer. The Tacoma Branch of the Mountaineers elected him chairman for 1952-1954. He had a particular interest in skiing and was one of the few leaders of ski tours in the mid-fifties. He continued his involvement with Scouting, serving as Scoutmaster for 33 years from 1950 through 1983. He died in University Place, Washington in 2015 at the age of 89.

Josephine and Stella Scholes

Two Scholes sisters, Josephine (1874-1961) and Stella (1876-1934), collected the materials here. Their parents brought seven children to Tacoma in 1890 via Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, and Kansas. All five daughters worked as teachers, and at least three of them, Josephine, Stella, and Emma, participated in Mountaineer outings in their summer vacations.

Josephine, the second oldest daughter, was born in Missouri and taught at the elementary level initially, at Bryant, Franklin, Grant, and Willard Schools. The remainder of her career, from 1933 until retirement in 1940, was spent at Jason Lee Junior High School. She maintained daily entries in three diaries during summer outings.

Stella, the fourth child and third daughter, was first employed at Central School, then taught algebra and geometry at Stadium High School until her death at the age of 58. She climbed the six major peaks of Washington State and served as secretary-treasurer for the Tacoma Branch. She was a member of the 1909 expedition to the summit of Mount Rainier, sponsored by the Mountaineers and offered as a side trip for visiting suffrage conventioneers. Participants planted a pennant from the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition with the motto “Votes for Women” on the summit.

Clarence Garner

Clarence Garner (1892 -1968) joined the Mountaineers in 1920 and soon began a life of active participation in the Tacoma Branch. He served as a member on the Local Walks Committee in 1924, and in 1925 acted as camp helper on the summer outing that year. Thereafter he was a regular helper and/or assistant cook on at least 35 outings and was known for his yodeling at the rising call. He acted in camp skits and pantomimes, singing “Acres of Clams” and other favorites. He was a “Six-Peaker”, and climbed Mount Rainier four times, Mount Baker three, Mounts Baker and St.Helens each twice. An avid amateur photographer, his photographs began to be featured in the annuals in the 1930s. While the bulk of his output was concentrated on the Mountaineers, his interests were varied and included documenting the Seattle Symphony, of which he was a patron, Daffodil Parades, and the construction of the Narrows Bridge. A vice president of the Tacoma Branch in 1931, he served as president in 1943 after having been awarded the Acheson Cup for outstanding service in 1937. A Trustee three times in the late 1940s and 1950s, he served variously as chairman of the Special Outings, Music, and Photography Committees. After the Tacoma Clubhouse was built in the 1960s he was caretaker, and documented the construction of the climbing pylon there.

Born in Buckley, Washington, he lived in Tacoma with his widowed mother until her death in 1932. He remained single and retired from St. Regis Paper. He died in Tacoma at the age of 78, having been a Mountaineer for 48 years.

Curtis & Miller

Curtis & Miller was a Seattle photographic studio that was in business from 1914 to 1916. Its principals were Asahel Curtis (1874-1941) and Walter Miller (1876- 1938).

Asahel Curtis was the younger brother of photographer Edward Curtis. Born in Minnesota in 1874, he moved with his family to the Puget Sound area in 1888. By 1895 he was working in the photography business with his brother in Seattle. He represented his brother’s studio on a trip to the Yukon in 1897, bringing his glass plate equipment into the gold fields. On his return in 1899, he discovered that Edward had taken credit for the trip and some of the resulting photographs, and that led to their lifelong estrangement. He continued working as a photographer with various partners and established his own studio in 1920.

He summited Mount Rainier in 1905 and made an early ascent of Mount Shuksan in 1906. Curtis Glacier on Mount Shuksan and Camp Curtis and Curtis Ridge in Mount Rainier National Park are named for him. In November of 1906 Frederick Cook came to Seattle on his return from his purported first ascent of Denali (then Mount McKinley) and spoke inspiringly of his expedition. That same month Curtis participated in the first meetings that organized the Mountaineers, Cook attending one. In December 1906 the Mountaineers were formed, with a constitution and by-laws, and Asahel Curtis was elected to the board of trustees. He organized and led the first summer outing to Mount Rainier in 1909, and was in the party that brought a pennant from the Alaska-Pacific-Yukon Exposition to the summit.

His involvement with the establishment of Mount Rainier National Park resulted in a break with the Mountaineers, as his ideas for its development differed from theirs. He served as the official photographer for the Seattle Chamber of Commerce and chaired its Development Committee and Highway Committee for years. His studio continued to document people, companies, and features of the state until his death in 1941. 60,000 of his images are held by the Washington State Historical Society.

Walter P. Miller was born in Illinois, and was in Seattle by 1900 and working as a photographer. In 1903 he accompanied explorer Frederick Cook as photographer on his first expedition to Denali, then known as Mount McKinley. He participated again as photographer on the controversial second expedition in 1906, when Cook claimed to have reached the summit, a claim that is now discredited. After Curtis & Miller was dissolved, he continued in the photography business in Seattle on his own until at least 1935. He died of a heart attack on his yacht in Anacortes, Washington in 1938.

Topaz Circle

  • 3.6.5
  • Organization
  • 1901-c. 1980s

The Topaz Circle began in Tacoma in November 1901 as a local branch of the Women of Woodcraft. It was named after the November birthstone. [1] The Women of Woodcraft was a women's auxiliary of the national Woodmen of the World fraternal organization founded in 1890. [2] The Topaz Circle organized various social and educational programs for its members including lectures, dances, readings, and performances. The organization continued to host gatherings in Tacoma through the 1980s. [3] The Woodmen of the World has is now WoodmenLife, a not-for-profit, privately held insurance company for organization members. [2]

Alling Park Garden Club

  • 3.6.8
  • Organization
  • 1947-c. 1977

The Alling Park Garden Club was organized on May 7, 1947. The Club's objectives were to “give beauty to others, study plant material, promote new ideas in plants, trees, birds, and the wise use of our natural resources.” The Alling Park Garden Club fulfilled their objectives through hosting programs, exhibits, garden tours, plant exchanges, and other special projects such as Garden Therapy and Civic Development. Eventually a Junior Alling Park Garden Club grew out of the original. The Alling Garden Club was a member if the Capital District of Washington State Federation of Garden Clubs and the National Council of State Garden Clubs, Inc.

Illema Club

  • 3.7.1
  • Organization
  • 1901-1977

The Illema club was organized in 1901 by Mrs. Edwin Sharpe, Mrs. Frank LaWall, Mrs. J.W. Clare, Mrs. Stanton Warburton, Mrs. John L. Mills and Mrs. W.B. Coffee. The name Illema is taken from the first letters of all of the founding members' first names, although they kept this a secret in initial appearances in the Tacoma Daily News. The group met biweekly at rotating houses around Tacoma. The group appears to have always had a literary focus rather than social or philanthropic. The final recorded meeting was on September 25th, 1977. The club colors were green and white and the club flower was the white carnation.

The Woman's Club

  • 3.7.1
  • Organization
  • 1904-1965

The Woman's Club was launched on October 27th, 1904 in the home of Mrs. J.Q. Mason and led by president Reverend Abbie E. Danforth. Danforth, appointed in 1889, was one of the first female reverends in North America. Danforth had been a pastor at the Park Universalist Church since 1902 after moving west from the Unitarian Church of Kent, OH.

Among the club's contributions to Tacoma were the creation of a female owned and operated "rest room," designed to be a "place offering almost retirement of home during unemployment hours" which would "prove a boon to hundreds of women and girls in Tacoma." The "rest room" appears to have been organized by Danforth in order to do for "women what the Y.M.C.A. is doing for men." This association with temperance groups continued in August 1913 when Danforth was elected president of the Women's Christian Temperance Union. The "rest room" was located in the Chamber of Commerce building on December 3, 1904 and led directly to The Woman's Club Hotel, which would open a year later. This institution, also open only to female patrons, was located nearby at 714 Pacific Avenue.

The Woman's Club also opened a physical clubhouse on 426 Broadway St. in 1915, intended to create a physical meeting space for all of the federated study clubs in the city, which remained extant until 1960. That said, Mrs. Abbie E. Danforth is still recorded hosting the final meeting of the Woman's Study Club in May 1965 from her home at 1322 N. Yakima St. The motto of The Woman's Club was "there is no higher duty than to work for the good of the whole world."

Illahee Study Club

  • 3.7.1
  • Organization
  • 1915-1977

The first and final published meetings of the Illahee Study Club were June 16, 1915 and March, 6, 1977. The first recorded president of the Club was Mrs. C.O. Lynn and the final president was Mrs. Clyde Henderson. The club colors were pink and green, the club flower was the test-out rose and their motto was, "the desire for knowledge increases ever with the acquisition of it."

Alpha Study Club

  • 3.7.1
  • Organization
  • 1905-1980

The Alpha Study Club was organized in 1905 and federated in 1914. The group was originally created only for women of Tacoma's south side, and admitted no more than 20 members at any time. The focus of the group was primarily on the cultivation of its members, although there were minor philanthropic efforts following WWII. The last published record of an active meeting was on May 4, 1980. Club colors were pink and green, the club flower was the carnation and their motto was "in great things unity, in small things liberty, in all things charity."

Sixth Avenue Baptist Church

  • 3.7.10
  • Organization
  • 1904-2010

The Sixth Avenue Baptist Church, 2520 Sixth Avenue, occupied two different buildings at this site from 1904 until 2010. The church was organized May 21,1901 in a meeting of fifteen people held at Sixth Avenue and Anderson Street. With funding from the First Baptist Church they began holding services and hired a pastor. The first church building was constructed of wood at Sixth and Pine and dedicated February 7, 1904. By 1906 the membership totaled 168 and a Ladies’ Missionary Society had been organized (1).

By the early 1920s the need for a larger building was evident and plans for a new church were drawn up by the architectural firm Heath, Gove, & Bell (2). The former building was moved to the back of the lot for use as a community center and the new building was constructed with a Wilkeson sandstone exterior. Robert Walker, church member and president of the Walker Cut Stone Company donated the cost of the labor. The new building was dedicated April 12, 1925, and in 1926, a pipe organ was purchased from Sherman Clay Co. and installed.

By 1941, church membership had grown to 478. An additional building intended for education and Sunday School was first proposed in 1948. Fundraising and design began at that time, although ground was not broken until 1963, by which time the original wooden building had been demolished. The new wing was dedicated January 12, 1964 (3).

In the late 1960s, a need for revitalization was recognized and a young pastor was engaged. The church shared its space with different agencies such as Associated Ministries, the Food Bank, and Habitat for Humanity. An effort was made to engage UPS students and a non-denominational group of teenagers was organized, the J.C. Generation. Space was provided for Lamaze Group, Writer’s Club, and Delong Preschool (4). Nonetheless, membership declined by 50% between 1975 and 1985 to 164, as indicated by a congregational profile commissioned in the mid-1980s (4,5).

By 2009 attendance at Sunday service had dwindled to 25. The church building was put up for sale and the last service was held there January 31, 2010 (6,7).

As of this writing in 2023, the building houses a wedding venue business, Events on 6th (8). It also serves as home for the congregation Soma Tacoma (9).

Tacoma Ministerial Alliance

  • 3.7.2
  • Organization
  • 1883-

What is now the Tacoma Ministerial Alliance was first organized as the Tacoma Ministerial Union on June 11, 1883 at the First Presbyterian Church on Railroad Ave. The initial goal of this group was for evangelical clergy in Tacoma to come together for ‘fellowship, mutual encouragement, etc..’ (1) In the 1904-1905 Constitution and Roll of Members of the Ministerial Alliance of Tacoma, the object of the Alliance is “to promote Christian fellowship among the brethren and to advance the religious and moral interests of our City and State.” (2)

Public Broadcast Foundation

  • 3.7.6
  • Organization
  • c. 1977-1983

The Public Broadcast Foundation was formed in the late 1970s in an the unsuccessful attempt to save the public status of Channel 13 in Tacoma. [1] In 1979, Channel 13 was sold by Clover Park School District, who had originally bought the channel out of bankruptcy in 1975, and operated it as a public station. [2] The school received an offer from a private company and decided to sell the station at a profit. This was opposed my members of the community, who formed the citizen action group Save-Our-Station-13 (SOS-13) which organized and attempted to find other public buyers to purchase the station, such as local Community Colleges, to keep it operating as public. This incited a large community debate in which the FCC (Federal Communication Commission) had to decide if the sale was allowed, and SOS-13 filed a petition. Ultimately, the School district was able to sell the channel to Kelly Broadcasting Co. Of Sacramento, California in 1979 for a sum of $6.25 million dollars, and used the money from the sale to build a new high school. [3]

Lutheran Service Center

  • 3.7.9
  • Organization
  • 1942-1968

The Tacoma Lutheran Service Center was a facility in Tacoma offering recreation, fellowship and social services to armed forces personnel. The first Lutheran Service Center in Tacoma was operational during World War II, from February 28, 1942 to August of 1946 and was located at 1003 Pacific Avenue (1).

The second Center began in 1951, when local Lutheran pastors recognized the need for continued service to the local bases. They met with a representative of the national Lutheran Service Commission and agreed to elect a permanent committee to develop a new local center (2). The Commission hired Robert P. Canis, a former U.S. Army Chaplain, to become the service pastor and director of the Center. He arranged the location and furnishing of the Center’s new quarters at 117 1/2 S. 10th Street, around the corner from its former site. He was assisted by lay women in the paid position of Hostess-Secretary. The Center was equipped with ping-pong and pool tables, record player and television set. Parties, holiday celebrations, picnics, outings to Mount Rainier and other area parks were arranged. Young women from the local Lutheran congregations volunteered as hostesses in the evenings and on weekends, socializing with the servicemen and assisting with the programs. A newsletter, Front and Center, was published (3, 4).

In 1956, Rev. Canis left to act as service pastor in the Lutheran Service Center in Keelung, Formosa (3). A series of lay women directed the center for its remaining years. Mrs. Marian I. Kirschenman was at the helm when the Center, facing declining attendance, merged with The Tacoma Seamen’s Center around 1965 (5). The national Commission phased out its support in 1967, and the local Committee endeavored to continue operations for another year, ceasing in 1968 (6).

Tacoma Public Schools

  • 4.1.1
  • Organization
  • 1869-

Tacoma School District No. 10, known as Tacoma Public Schools, is headquartered in Tacoma, Washington, United States. It comprises 35 elementary schools, 11 middle schools, 10 high schools, and 4 early learning centers. It is the third-largest school district in Washington State, with more than 30,000 students and 5,000 employees. Tacoma Public Schools is one of the largest employers in the greater Tacoma area.

Tacoma School District #10 was established on September 18, 1869, on the future site of Tacoma. (1) The first classes occurred in a resident's log cabin, with 13 students from the Baker, Fleetwood, and A. W. Stewart families. The first school building was a log cabin constructed in 1870, located on the southwest corner of North 28th and Starr Streets. It cost around $300. (1) A.W. Stewart served as a director, J.P. Stewart as a teacher, and R. H. Landsale as a board clerk. (1)

Like the rest of the United States, Tacoma Public Schools was influenced by the influx of European immigrants in the years before World War I. Government and religious agencies worked to address ethnic integration. (2) The National Conference on Immigration and Americanization in 1913 created a list of three critical aspects of immigrant assimilation: literacy, health and hygiene, and learning democracy. (2) In response, U.S. schools began introducing new policies and programs to promote and teach the importance of these three values.

The Tacoma School District began incorporating nurses, health clinics, showers, and home economics departments. The purpose was to improve health and hygiene within the school property. The school district also expanded social services, such as after-school programs, summer school, and the availability of on-site lunches. (2) The focus on the civic responsibilities of schools led to the improvement of libraries, lunchrooms, and administrative offices. (2)

During the early twentieth century, Tacoma and its school system experienced population growth due to the United States' involvement in World War I, including establishing Fort Lewis in 1917 and the 1914 opening of the Panama Canal. The Panama Canal expanded the business and industry associated with the Port of Tacoma; Fort Lewis also became the largest fort in the United States, housing 37,000 soldiers. (2)

From 1915 to 1920, enrollment in Tacoma Public Schools rose from 14,211 to 18,023. (2) In order to address the growing student population, the district school board debated between three educational models. The educational models would affect the construction of schools. The models were the 8-4 system, the 6-6 system, and the 6-3-3 system. (2) The 8-4 system was the typical school model before World War I. It had grades one through eight in elementary schools and nine through 12 in high schools. The 6-6 system recommended grades one through six in elementary school, with grades seven through 12 in high school. (2) The board adopted the 6-3-3 system, which advocated for grades one through six in elementary school, seven through nine in middle school, and 10 through 12 in high school. (2)

Tacoma voters authorized a $2.4 million plan in 1923 to transition to the new elementary, intermediate, and high school model. (2) The funding allowed for the construction of six new intermediate schools and additions to existing elementary schools. As a result, Jason Lee, James P. Stewart, Morton M. McCarver, Franklin B. Gault, Allan C. Mason, and Robert Gray's middle schools were built. (2)

Another significant population increase occurred in Tacoma and its schools during World War II because the Port of Tacoma and Fort Lewis brought economic growth. From 1950 to 1956, public school enrollment rose 26% from 22,157 to 29,778. (2) The increase in student population led to the overcrowding of aging elementary schools. Furthermore, the need for construction in suburban areas caused the school board to draft a new building campaign emphasizing quick, cheap, and flexible school construction. (2)

Following the Brown v. Board of Education decision and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Tacoma School District sought to desegregate schools with high non-white enrollment. (3) Dr. Angelo Giaudrone, the district superintendent, addressed the de facto segregation and focused on two elementary schools. The two schools were Stanley Elementary, with a Black population of 64 percent, and McCarver Elementary, with a Black population of 84 percent. Tacoma Public Schools formed a subcommittee in 1963 to study de facto segregation and provide solutions. (3) On July 8, 1966, the school board announced a plan for an optional enrollment program. The program’s goal was to close McCarver Junior High and provide limited open enrollment to students affected by the closing. (3)

After a decade of teaching in the Tacoma School District, Willie Stewart became the first Black principal in 1970. Stewart often liaised between the Black community and the school district. (3) Reflecting on the success of the voluntary desegregation plan, Stewart discussed the wish to have more African American counselors and a two-year education process instead of one year. (3) "Stewart thought the district could also have improved its plan by having high school regional meetings with schools and the community and separate meetings for the Black community to help with the transition with the loss of school lineage." (3) By 1972, the school district stated that de facto segregation had ended in fifty-eight school buildings. All buildings were at or below the forty-percent threshold for black student enrollment. (3)

Children's Industrial Home

  • 4.3.2
  • Organization
  • 1900-2013 (?)

The Children’s Industrial Home was founded by a group of Tacoma women in 1890. First organized as the Women’s Lend a Hand League, then renamed the Woman’s League in 1892, it was incorporated as the Children’s Industrial Home in 1908. According to records in this collection, the organization’s stated purpose was to “find orphan, destitute and ill-treated children, receive them into legal custody and care for them until they are placed into approved and suitable homes or legally adopted; and further, for the protection of children who have lost one or both parents.” In 1904, the organization acquired six acres of property, including an orchard and a three-story house suitable for 30 children. Soon a nursery building was added to care for children under three years old. Eventually, as many as 72 children at a time lived in the large home. Due to its size and location at the top of a hill, the building quickly became known in Tacoma as the Home on the Hill. From its beginnings, the Children’s Industrial Home was supported almost entirely by private citizens in Tacoma. When possible, parents of children in the Home provided funds to assist with their care. The Home on the Hill housed children between the ages of birth and 14 years old. In 1926, Mrs. Jessie Dyslin donated land and funds to establish the Jessie Dyslin Boys’ Ranch as a home for boys who were over age for the Home on the Hill. Around the same time, the Children's Industrial Home opened a Girl’s Club as a residence for girls of high school age who needed a home while finishing school. In 1944, a furnace explosion extensively damaged the Home on the Hill and the building was demolished. The nursery building was used as a temporary home until a new home was completed in 1950. In the mid-1990s, the Children’s Industrial Home was renamed Gateways for Youth and Families.

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