We were at a history meeting recently and once again the subject of how to do oral interviews came up.  The need for personal points of view on community, regional and national events add depth to our interpretation of our local historical places and biographies.    As historians, we want to encourage oral histories as part our research but they are hard to arrange and it sometimes takes time to develop interviewing skills and relevant questions so the interviews stay focused.

There are a few good books on the subject and the Northwest Oral History Association maintains a good list of web pages for more examples of projects and how to information.

The key points are to make sure you have permissions signed for the appropriate use of the interview, ie. can they be broadcast or published, used in exhibit captions, or just preserved.  And in spite of new digital technologies, it is always preferable to transcribe them, a daunting task for the casual interviewer.  And do as much research about the person as possible to be prepared with good questions that make the interview a worthwhile effort.

–Karen Prasse, League of Snohomish County Heritage Organizations

Lynette Miller at the Waltz Bldg

Lynette Miller at the Historic Waltz Bldg in Snohomish

Great Thanks to Mark Vessey of the Heritage Resource Center for arranging the Collections Care Workshop for our League of Snohomish County Heritage Organizations members.  Sixteen members representing historical societies from Mukilteo, Snohomish,  Monroe, Alderwood Manor, Sky Valley, Marysville, Stanwood and Everett’s Museum of Snohomish County History were present for  Lynette Miller’s useful instructions and suggestions.  Her many years of experience as Head of Collections with the Washington State Historical Society were much appreciated.

Though all of us know about basic processes, her tips on marking objects, pest control, cleaning textiles and objects, collections policies and recordkeeping, legalities, insurance were very useful for each of us to take back to our own groups to help improve our processing our collections for better storage, locating and using in exhibits.

Thanks Again to those who attended and to Lynette!

Thanks also to Hostess, Darlene Huntington of the Snohomish Historical Society who gave us tours of the Blackman Museum and to Sonia Rahm who manages rentals of the Waltz Bldg.

Also, for those who were there, we’ve updated our old webpage listing of conservation resources on this new blog page based on Lynette’s workshop handouts.  (old page being remodeled http://www.snocoheritage.org/museums.htm)

Karen Prasse, Pres, LOSCHO

This week the Snohomish County Council took a proactive step in a difficult budget situation. In 2005 the State legislature passed HB 1386 that lead to the adoption of an ordinance to formally implement use of funds collected through this legislation. Passage of Ordinance No. 08-153 by the Snohomish County Council has authorized the creation of a grant program to distribute about $45,000 in money in 2009 collected from $1 in recording fees known as the “Heritage Dollar” and originally made law by the passage in the Washington State Legislature of House Bill 1386 (HB 1386) in 2005. The motion was passed unanimously by the four members of the council present.

We believe that of the 39 counties in Washington State, Snohomish County is just the sixth to pass an ordinance to create a grant program with this money.  The other counties are Clark, Kittitas, King, Pierce and San Juan.  Our thanks go to the council members, the executive’s office and especially to Councilman Brian Sullivan who was instrumental in passing HB 1386 in 2005 and who has continued to support heritage in Snohomish County.

In a January meeting of the League of Snohomish County Heritage Organizations, Councilman Sullivan expressed personal concerns knowing how difficult it is for volunteer historical organizations to provide conservation and collections care for museum artifacts, architectural and cultural resources preservation and historical programming. These funds are meant to take advantage of momentum, energy and volunteer efforts and provide encouragement and supplemental matching reimbursement funding for qualified projects. If all goes as planned, the program will be administered by the Snohomish County Historic Preservation Commission and non-profit heritage groups will be able to apply for these funds annually.

For background info

* http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=1386&year=2006

* Council link to staff reports: http://snohomish.granicus.com/MinutesViewer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=847

* Council PowerPoint showing how the “Heritage Dollar” was allocated: http://snohomish.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=847&meta_id=55874

* Washington Museum Association (WMA) on HB 1386:   http://washingtonstatemuseums.org/whitepaper_HB1386.pdf

* WMA Toolkit:   http://washingtonstatemuseums.org/newsletter.html

Tracy Tallman Vice President, League of Snohomish Heritage Organizations & Snohomish County Historic Preservation Commission
Karen Prasse, President, League of Snohomish County Heritage Organizations

League of Snohomish County Heritage Organizations; www.snocoheritage.org/blog; info@snocoheritage.org