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MOHAI historian Lorraine McConaghy to share book insights at Fall City history meeting, Sunday

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— image credit: Courtesy photo

Lorraine McConaghy, Public Historian with the Museum of History and Industry in Seattle, is the featured speaker at the Fall City Historical Society’s annual meeting, 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 21, at the Fall City Masonic Hall.

McConaghy will speak about “New Land, North of the Columbia,” her new  book that explores the seminal moments of Washington’s history through primary documents—everything from marriage certificates and telegraph receipts to newspaper clippings, blueprints and fruit box labels.

To write it, she delved into the state’s many local archives. Setting out “to create an exhibit between bookcovers,” McConaghy packed a scanner to 50 different state archives, scanning more than 2,000 documents—“letters, menus, diary pages, every kind of public record.”

She brought them home, selected about 1,000, then taped them to the walls of her Kirkland house “so I could really see them face to face.”

Winnowing the selections, she knew there were some milestones that had to be in the book, such as the anti-Chinese agitation of the 1880s to the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

At other times, McConaghy sought items that stood alone. She asked, “What’s the best document that I can find, that speaks for itself?”

McConaghy’s work sprung from collections managed by others on a local level.

“Archivists are the unsung heroes of every kind of research project,” McConaghy said.

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