While staffing the Whatcom Genealogical Society booth at the Old Settlers' Day festivities in Ferndale, our representatives had the opportunity to speak with many local residents. Several approached us asking what to do with items of local historical value that were in their possession.
Two individuals mentioned they had been placed in charge of the belongings of close relatives who recently passed away. They came across numerous old photos and other memorabilia that had to do with Whatcom County history. Since no one in their families was interested in the items and they didn't know what else to do with them, the items sadly ended up in the trash.
Fearing this happens all too often, it is important to inform the public of the various local depositories where historical items of any kind can be donated. Donors can be assured that the items will be appreciated and most likely be preserved for future generations. These items are important for us to expand our knowledge and understanding of Whatcom County history.
Whatcom Genealogical Society contacted the major local depositories listed below about what materials they ordinarily accept. Their responses are listed, along with their contact information.
We hope you will keep this list handy in case you think of anything to donate in the future. Let us make sure no more of our local history is lost.
Bellingham Family History Center accepts family research donations, and will try to find someone working on the same family via the Internet who will appreciate having it. Contact: Robert and Karen Blum, 360-738-1849.
Center for Pacific Northwest Studies collects materials that represent significant developments in the region stretching from Alaska to Northern California and from the Pacific Ocean to the Rocky Mountains, but with a focus on northwest interior Washington, the Olympic Peninsula, British Columbia and Alaska.
The center strives to acquire a wide array of material documenting the region, including private papers; organizational, business and institutional records; political papers; correspondence; photographs; printed material; scrapbooks; maps; architectural drawings; diaries; audio and video material; electronic records; artwork; and ephemera. Contact: Ruth Steele, archivist, 360-650-7747.
Lynden Pioneer Museum has a collection about Lynden and surrounding area, so the main focus is on the heritage represented by the social, economic, cultural, aesthetic, artistic, industrial and scientific history, and material culture, of northern Whatcom County. Contact: Troy Luginbill, director and curator, 360-354-3675.
Washington State Archives, Northwest Regional Branch is interested in records created by government agencies but held by private individuals. Most of the records received are transferred by the agencies, themselves, but occasionally the branch receives records from private donors who happen to have public records in their possession. Contact: Megan Shoemaker, archivist, 360-650-2813.
Whatcom Genealogical Society will find a good home for family research material and genealogy books. Contact: Sharon Neem, president, 360-332-7562.
Whatcom Museum and its photo archives mainly accept objects based on the strength of their documented relationship to the history of exploration, settlement, and development of the region, including Whatcom, Skagit, Island and San Juan counties from the 18th century to the present. An appointment is necessary. Contacts: Rebecca Hutchins, curator of collections, 360-778-8930; and Jeff Jewell, photo archivist, 360-778-8931.
Sharon Neem is the president of the Whatcom Genealogical Society. Window On My World is an occasional essay in Monday's Bellingham Herald that allows Whatcom County residents to share their passion for what they do, an idea or cause they support. Send your Window On My World, which must be no more than 700 words, to Julie.firstname.lastname@example.org.
The website of the Washington State Archives was updated Sept. 5, 2012.