On November 11, 1889, word came to Washington Territory via telegram that President Benjamin Harrison signed the proclamation admitting Washington to the Union. This November, 125 years later, Washingtonians are invited to help celebrate the quasquicentennial of statehood.
The Washington State Historical Society and the Washington Secretary of State, with First Lady Trudi Inslee as Honorary Chair of the Commemoration, are partnering to lead a statewide effort to encourage public and private sector organizations to observe the 125th anniversary. Similar to the commemorations of the Centennial of Statehood in 1989, groups are invited to develop projects and programs throughout the state.
“Every Washingtonian has something to contribute to our shared history,” explains Shanna Stevenson, project manager for the Washington 125 campaign. “We hope a variety of groups will plan events unique to their role in our state’s history.”
A large commemorative ceremony, complete with performers representing the diverse cultures in Washington and a re-creation of the 1889 telegram, will take place at the Capitol Rotunda on November 11, 2014. Central to the observance will be the Capsule Keepers, a group of adults who 25 years ago were enlisted at the age of 10 to contribute to a time capsule in the Legislative Building and were entrusted with the care and continuance of the capsule in the future. Secretary of State Kim Wyman is assisting the Capsule Keepers in finding a new batch of 10 year olds to carry on the tradition. More information at www.capsulekeepers.org.
The Historical Society has created a central resource where those who are planning a project or program for Washington 125 can list their plans. Washington125.org shares ideas for different ways to observe the anniversary, links to organizations who share their events, and downloadable files for the official Washington 125 logo and QR code.
Ideas include conducting a public service project, providing a display for the festivities in Olympia, or holding lectures on different aspects of state history. Creativity is encouraged. The Historical Society’s mascot, Seymour History, is even getting involved as groups are welcome to host a flat version of him and submit photos and captions of his adventures around Washington. Get inspiration for Seymour at www.SeymourHistoryWA.org.
This Historical Society, which operates the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma and the State Capital Museum in Olympia, will host a series of presentations on topics such as the last 25 years in Washington sports, music, and the arts. Discussions will also explore state park history, maritime history, gay marriage, and the legalization of marijuana. People can also learn more about the role of the Capsule Keepers and learn more about our state constitution.
One example of how a state agency plans to celebrate the state’s 125th birthday is the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s Centennial Farms project, where it will reconnect with the farms across Washington which at the centennial had been owned by the same family for at least 100 years.
“Washington has a long and rich agrarian history,” said Jerri Honeyford of Sunnyside, a member of the Washington State Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and coordinator of the WSDA’s project volunteers. “Honoring farm families and agriculture is an important part of any commemoration of Washington’s 125th year.” Learn more about this project at www.agr.wa.gov.
For more information on the Washington 125th Anniversary events, especially the celebration at the capital in Olympia on November 11, visit www.WA125.org.