Saved From the Dump

Thanks to a second grant from 4 Culture, the Museum has purchased additional supplies to preserve the Valley Record Collection. In 2011 the Snoqualmie Valley Museum received a pair of donations from the publishers of the Snoqualmie Valley Record of historic 1913-1940s newspapers and negatives and photos spanning the years 1970-2005 from the Snoqualmie Valley Record and in 2018 further received bound copies of the newspapers through 2016. The newspaper has been the only continuing newspaper serving the Snoqualmie area from 1912 to the present and has been an invaluable recorder of all aspects of local life. The donation required immediate attention as a portion of it was in unstable condition, literally being saved from a “trip to the dump.”

The first donation consisted of loose and bound copies of the paper covering the years 1913-1940, and thousands of photographs, proof sheets and negatives spanning the years 1970-2005. In this case, the Museum was given only a few hours’ notice before these items, heaped into boxes, were scheduled to go to the dump. In 2018, as the Record thought it would close it offices in the Valley, the publishers realized that the remaining bound copies of the paper (1940’s-2016) should stay in the Valley and be available through the Snoqualmie Valley Museum. The Museum now has possession the single best source for the social, political, economic, cultural and natural history of the area stretching from Snoqualmie Pass and Cedar Falls down the Snoqualmie River through North Bend, Snoqualmie, Snoqualmie Falls, Fall City, Tolt, Vincent, Novelty, and Stillwater to Duvall. The key now is to preserve these materials and make them easily accessible available to the public.

The Museum has broken the project into phases in order to stabilize the collection while working on bringing the whole Valley Record collection up to modern archival standards.

The project phases are outlined as follows:
Phase I. Complete. The hard bound 1913-1924 newspapers were copied onto microfilm by the Washington State Library, adding new material to its collection and providing a copy to the Snoqualmie Valley Museum.

Phase II: Complete. The Museum consulted with Nicolette Bromberg, University of Washington, Special Collections Library, regarding a strategy for processing the collection and use of cost effective materials. Provided training for Assistant Director Cristy Lake in her lab class. Under the direction of Nicolette and Cristy, Shannon Moller, a UW graduate student as a Capstone project, sorted the negatives and prints into chronological order using materials loaned by the UW.

Phase IIIa: Complete: The Museum received financial assistance from 4Culture to purchase archival materials, including negative sleeves, folders, and boxes to store and stabilize the photos and 43,591 of the negatives. At the start of this phase it was estimated that there were between 20,000-40,000 negatives. This phase was completed using trained volunteers and members of the collection committee under direction of the project director. During this phase negatives from 1980, 1982-1988, 1990-July 1993, 2002-2005 were rehoused. On completion of this phase the print boxes loaned from the UW were returned. The softbound newspapers were also housed in archival boxes.

Phase IIIb: Current Phase: The Museum received additional 4Culture support to purchase archival materials, including negative sleeves, folders, and boxes, to store and stabilize the remaining ~40,000 negatives. Remaining are negatives from 1989, and August 1993-2001. Originally intended to begin in the Spring of 2020 as the Museum wrapped up its multi-year inventory of its collection and shifted focus back to the collection; this was delayed because of the Covid-19 pandemic causing a closure to the interior spaces of the Museum. The Museum has recently been able to go ahead and purchase the supplies and is beginning the process of rehousing the remaining negatives over the winter.

Phase IV: Current Phase: Digitize the bound newspapers. The Museum is currently in negotiations the Valley Record and the Washington State Library with hopes to digitize the newspaper and make it available with OCR search functions on the State Library’s website. Museum has budgeted $5,000 for this phase of the project out of its general fund, received a $5,000 grant from the Snoqualmie Tribe and is working through a local heritage alliance to undertake community fundraising for additional funds for this phase of the project if the negotiations are successful. In 1989 the majority of the newspapers were microfilmed, but many of the issues did not film well and should be reimaged rather than having the microfilm digitized.

Phase V-VII: Future Phase: These will include additional sorting for photo duplication, scanning negatives and photos, accession and entering into Past Perfect where they will be accessible to the public.

The Snoqualmie Valley represents roughly a third of King County’s geography, in the northern half and eastern 2/3rds of the county. It is chronically under-served in representation, financial and educational opportunities and access to services because of the low population density and remoteness of some areas of the Valley. For long stretches of our history the Record has been one of the few ways the events in our area have been recorded. The Museum’s collection contains very few images of the Snoqualmie Valley from the 1960s through present; the Valley Record negative collection fills a substantial part of that void. This project directly allows the Museum to better preserve and share a neglected aspect of King County heritage.

The Valley Record is now currently only available via microfilm at libraries over an hour away for most residents (especially in the lower portion of the valley) via the fragile original copy at the Museum which is currently unable to offer physical access because of the pandemic. The negatives that the Museum seeks to preserve are the best sample of the images from this period.