Virtual Content During COVID-19

Bookmark this page as we continue to share updates!

Becoming Nisei Author Interview
April 12, 2021

Our April virtual meeting featured an interview with the authors of the new book Becoming Nisei, Lisa Hoffman and Mary Hanneman, both faculty members at the University of Washington, Tacoma.

The book is now available for purchase in our THS Museum Store.


Telling the Stories of our Lives
March 8, 2021

Our March virtual meeting featured a conversation between writer Anthea Karanasos Hubanks and retiree and book artist An Gates. THS Communications Manager Kim Davenport interviewed the two women about their recent experience with capturing and sharing An's oral history, as part of the "Telling the Stories of our Lives" project.

Learn more about Hubanks' oral history project, and An's life story, by visiting our Tales of Tacoma blog, where we have shared several oral histories resulting from the project.


Black Voices from Tacoma's Musical Past
February 18, 2021

In this presentation, THS Communications Manager and Tacoma music historian Kim Davenport shares stories of black musicians from Tacoma's past who left an important legacy in our city. Some made Tacoma home while others were merely guests for a time, but all added to the artistic vitality of our community while confronting the realities of discrimination. The presentation includes historic photographs, as well as both historic and new audio.

Presented in partnership between the Tacoma Public Library and Tacoma Historical Society, with support from Tacoma Creates.

February Virtual Meeting
February 8, 2021

Our February 2021 virtual meeting featured a conversation with artist Dionne Bonner. Bonner's exhibit, "A Pioneering Spirit: A Fight for Liberty and Freedom," is currently on display in our Tacoma Historical Society museum. The exhibit features oil paintings and biographical information which bring to life the journey of a handful of African American pioneers who fought tirelessly for liberty for their community in spite of their situations. For Bonner, these historical accounts encouraged her at a pivotal time in her life when she needed to see examples of strength and agency reflected in her community.

January Virtual Meeting
January 11, 2021

In the early decades of the 20th century, "booster songs" were a common musical form of civic pride all around the country. Tacoma, full of energy to promote the "City of Destiny" both within the region and nationally, produced several such songs. Kim Davenport will share the stories behind several of the songs, images from the sheet music and its colorful cover artwork, as well as performances of a few examples, with the assistance of a student musician from the UPS School of Music.

This event will also include the presentation of our annual "Star of Destiny" award - tune in to find out who we are recognizing for 2020!

December Virtual Meeting
December 14, 2020

Our December presentation celebrated the new documentary, "Fire On Broadway," a production of the Tacoma Home Movies project of Mick Flaaen and Michael Sullivan. 

Those who tuned in to the live broadcast got a sneak preview of the film, which features recently re-discovered footage of the 1963 fire that destroyed the Tacoma Theatre (also known as the Broadway and later the Music Box).

Although we're no longer sharing the documentary itself, you can still view the preview material, featuring interviews with Michael Sullivan and Kim Davenport.

November Virtual Meeting
November 9, 2020

Our November speaker, Deb Freedman, reviewed the life and career of Judge James Wickersham, known in Tacoma as a leader in the Anti-Chinese agitation that led to mob violence and mass expulsion in November of 1885. Wickersham went on to have a remarkable (and volatile) career in Alaska as a pioneer judge and Congressional Delegate. In preparation, Deb Freedman spent months reading thousands of pages of Wickersham’s personal diaries, spanning nearly four decades.


Stadium Historic District - Historic Homes (Virtual) Tour!
November 3, 2020

We are pleased to announce our new new virtual Stadium Historic District Historic Homes Tour! The interactive map-based walking tour includes audio and video and features more than a dozen historic homes and buildings in this historic Tacoma neighborhood.

View the tour here:


October Virtual Meeting
October 12, 2020

The featured speaker for our October 2020 virtual meeting was our curator, Elizabeth Korsmo. Take a behind-the-scenes look at a pair of garments that pre-date “Bank on Tacoma”. The THS collection has two rather special pieces of clothing: an infant cap made for J.C. Weatherred c.1846, and a dress said to have been worn by Reno Odlin c.1905. Like the men who once wore them, these garments originated outside of Tacoma, but found their way to the City of Destiny. We will take a close look at the garments and how they were made, and what this can tell us about the garments' owners and their world.

New Virtual Tour: 1885 Chinese Expulsion: Places and People 
October 1, 2020

We are honored to contribute to this year’s virtual Tacoma Moon Festival with the release of a new virtual tour of the people and places associated with the 1885 Chinese Expulsion. 

You can explore the tour here:

The tour was produced with the help of volunteers Jennifer Callaghan, Dusty Gorman and PLU professor Gregory Youtz, at the request of the Chinese Reconciliation Project Foundation, and with support from Tacoma Creates.

Enjoy the full virtual 2020 Tacoma Moon Festival here:


September Virtual Meeting
September 14, 2020

The featured speaker for our September 2020 virtual meeting was our board president Bill Baarsma, who will share some of his extensive research into Tacoma's political history with the presentation: "The Great Tacoma Recall Election of September 15, 1970: How it Transformed Tacoma Politics."

The meeting also included the presentation of Tacoma Historical Society's annual awards.




Suffrage Special Whistle Stop Tour
August 25, 2020

Tacoma Historical Society was pleased to participate in the Washington State Historical Society's Suffrage Special Whistle-Stop Tour, honoring the National Women's Suffrage Centenntial in August 2020.

The eight-episode video series explored our state’s connections to the larger national history of women’s suffrage, and honors Washington’s women changemakers who led the way then as well as those who continue to do so today. Please view the Tacoma "stop" on the tour here:


Speaking Out About Dreams That Matter
August 24, 2020

We are pleased to share "Speaking Out About Dreams That Matter," a two-part online presentation about people from throughout Tacoma's history who have worked for social justice and civil rights.

The presentation features audio excerpts from the book "Speaking Out: Twenty-One of Tacoma's Social Justice and Civil Rights Champions," alongside audio and video interviews conducted during the summer of 2020.

The two-part presentation was produced by Tacoma Historical Society in partnership with the Tacoma Public Library, with funding support from Tacoma Creates. Both parts are now available on YouTube:


Tales of Tacoma Blog
July 29, 2020

We are delighted to announce the launch of our new blog, Tales of Tacoma! Through the blog, we aim to share stories from Tacoma history which are accessible to, and written by, students of all ages!

We are indebted to the work of our summer intern McKenna Ehrmantraut from the University of Puget Sound for building the blog and writing the initial content - and now we welcome your contributions. Please visit the blog to learn more about how you can get involved.

Bank on Tacoma Exhibit Presentations and Game
July 14, 2020

With great thanks to Deb Freedman, whose research underpins our current exhibit, Bank on Tacoma, we are pleased to share two virtual presentations which make the exhibit content more accessible even as our museum remains closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After watching the presentations, you can test your knowledge by playing Tacoma Banking Jeopardy

In Part One, Deb shares stories from the period 1873-1893. During this twenty-year period, at least forty-five banks were organized in Tacoma. In 1890 new banks were opening on Tacoma’s street corners every other month. Then came the 1893 banking panic, and due to its extreme municipal debt, Tacoma was the hardest-hit in the nation.

In Part Two, Deb shares stories from the period 1893-1993. Tacoma was hit hard by the 1893 banking panic. By 1933, Tacoma citizens had seen nearly one hundred bank names come and go. In contrast, not a single new bank charter was issued in Tacoma between 1933 and 1963. Credit unions grew exponentially during that period, mirroring Tacoma’s municipal, military, and manufacturing employers. Three more decades of fresh starts, mergers and failures followed, mostly in "thrifts" and savings and loans.


July Meeting Broadcast Online
July 13, 2020


'Speaking Out' Audiobook Now Available
June 12, 2020

Tacoma Historical Society is delighted to announce the release of a free audiobook version of our book, Speaking Out: Twenty-One of Tacoma's Social Justice and Civil Rights Champions. Written by Katherine Dorr, with research and editorial support from THS staff and volunteers, the audiobook is read by Bill Baarsma and Kim Davenport.

Speaking Out is part of our '21 Tales' series, books which are intended to share important stories from Tacoma history with students in local schools. The book was published in conjunction with our 2017-2018 exhibit "Dreams That Matter," and tells stories of people from throughout Tacoma's history who have championed causes of social justice and civil rights.

Listen to the book on our new podcast, which also features other titles from the '21 Tales' series:

We hope this can be a valuable resource to students, teachers, parents, and Tacomans of all ages looking for opportunities to learn more about Tacoma history.


June Meeting Broadcast Online
June 8, 2020

In the midst of restrictions on public gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been pleased to share our monthly guest presentations virtually!

If you missed our latest, featuring Deb Freedman sharing some of her research that went into our "Bank on Tacoma" exhibit, you can watch it anytime on YouTube:

War Memorial Park Virtual Tour
May 24, 2020

This Memorial Day weekend, we are pleased to share our new virtual tour of Tacoma's War Memorial Park. 

Enjoy a preview in the embedded window below, but for best results, click here to open in a new window, enter Full Screen mode, and activate the ambient audio and narration in the upper right corner of the window.


Documenting History: Submit Your COVID-19 Diary Entry - Now Via Audio!
May 20, 2020

In early April, we announced our project to collect your diary entries about how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting your lives. We still welcome your text entries, and are now pleased to also make available the option to send us an audio diary entry. You are welcome to submit either (or both) as often as you like:

Click here to send us a text submission

Click here to send us an audio submission.

We appreciate your taking the time to submit a COVID-19 diary entry to help future historians understand how the COVID-19 pandemic influenced the lives of those in Tacoma.


Memorial Day Observance to be Broadcast Online
May 18, 2020

Rather than cancel our annual Memorial Day Observance at War Memorial Park, we will be bringing the event to you as a live online broadcast. If you missed the opportunity to join us for the live broadcast on Memorial Day, the video is still available for viewing:


Voices of THS Video Series
May 12, 2020

While we continue to work from home, we are putting together a series of short videos titled "Voices of THS" which capture the thoughts of some of our volunteers and board members about why Tacoma Historical Society is important in their lives, and in our community. 

Follow us on social media to see the videos as they are released: FacebookInstagram, or Twitter.

We also welcome you to subscribe to our YouTube channel, where we are sharing these videos, our monthly meetings, and other great Tacoma history content!


May Meeting to be Broadcast Online
May 11, 2020 - 7pm

In honor of Historic Preservation Month, former THS Curator Brendan Balaam presented a short history of Tacoma's little known candy enterprises and their role in forming the landscape of the UW Tacoma campus as it stands today.

If you missed the live broadcast, it's still available for viewing here:


'Leading Ladies' Audiobook Now Available
April 21, 2020

Tacoma Historical Society is pleased to make available an audiobook version of another of our '21 Tales' books, which are geared towards a K-8 audience. Our second audiobook release (scroll down on this page to learn about our first!) is "Leading Ladies: Twenty-One of Tacoma's Women of Destiny," which honors twenty-one of the many women who have played a role in the history of Tacoma.

Listen to the audiobook on our podcast here (or wherever you get your podcasts):

We hope this can be a valuable resource to students, teachers, parents, and Tacomans of all ages looking for opportunities to learn more about Tacoma history.


Virtual Tour of 'Bank on Tacoma' Exhibit
April 17, 2020

Because of our temporary museum closure due to COVID-19, we are pleased to share this virtual tour of the exhibit. [Note: best viewed with Microsoft Edge, Chrome or Firefox browsers, and not viewable with Internet Explorer.]

Be sure to click on the gear symbol at the top right of the window below and turn on the audio narration, to hear Deb Freedman describe the content in each portion of the exhibit.

We are thankful to Columbia Bank for their leadership as a presenting sponsor of this exhibit, and appreciate the additional support of Heritage Bank.


'Notable Tacomans' Crossword - learn and win!
April 11, 2020

We have created a new opportunity for you to engage with Tacoma history from the safety of your own home. We hope you'll enjoy learning a few new things about your city while also having a little fun with the Notable Tacomans crossword that is suitable for the whole family!

As a little added incentive, anyone who returns the correctly completed crossword to us by May 31 will be entered in a drawing to win a THS family membership and choice of one of our THS Press '21 Tales' titles. If you're already a member, we're offering a complete set of Hunt’s "History of Tacoma" ($110 value) as the prize!

Download the crossword puzzle here - when you're done, take a picture or a scan and e-mail to to be entered in the drawing!


'Rising Up' Audiobook Now Available
April 3, 2020

Tacoma Historical Society is pleased to make available an audiobook version of one of our '21 Tales' books - which are geared towards a K-8 audience. We chose to begin with Rising Up From Tacoma's Twenty-One Disasters and Defeats, the second book in the series, because it tells stories of Tacoma moving past difficult times and circumstances - much like what we are going through now.

Listen to the audiobook on our podcast here (or wherever you get your podcasts):

We hope this can be a valuable resource to students, teachers, parents, and Tacomans of all ages looking for opportunities to learn more about Tacoma history.


Documenting History: Submit Your COVID-19 Diary Entry
April 2, 2020

Tacoma Historical Society realizes that we are living through an historic event. In an effort to document the effects of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on our community, we are collecting diary entries from residents of Tacoma. How has COVID-19 influenced your life and that of the community in which we live? 

We appreciate your taking the time to submit a COVID-19 diary entry to help future historians understand how the COVID-19 pandemic influenced the lives of those in Tacoma. Click here to access the submission form.


April Meeting to be Broadcast Online
March 20, 2020

We are converting our April meeting into a live online broadcast of our guest speaker's talk. Please plan to join us from the safety of your own home. If you missed it live, it's still available for you to watch:


Temporary Museum Closure - Homes Tour Cancellation
March 13, 2020

In light of the governor's emergency proclamation which will temporarily limit public gatherings in our region, Tacoma Historical Society has made the difficult decision to temporarily close our museum at 919 Pacific, and to cancel the Historic Homes of Tacoma Tour which had been scheduled for the weekend of May 2-3, 2020. We hope to be able to announce a rescheduling of the Tour for later in the year.

While this event is still several weeks away, several factors played into our decision to cancel now, all of which involve respecting the safety and security of all members of our community.

First, planning for this event begins well in advance, including several gatherings of volunteers for docent training. Second, because the success of the event depends on the generosity of private home-owners, we want to be as respectful as possible to their time and space during this difficult time. Likewise, this year's tour was to include a Tacoma Public Schools facility; we acknowledge that the schools are dealing with their own set of challenges right now, with the closure announced yesterday.

Finally, even though the event is an important fundraiser for our organization, we must make the fiscally-responsible decision to cancel before investing significantly more funds or staff time into the planning of the event. Again, we hold out hope that after our community works through this challenging time, we can organize a rescheduling of the event for later in 2020.

In the meantime, please consider supporting us with a donation, or by renewing your membership.

Meanwhile, other planned THS events - book signings, our monthly speaker series, etc. - remain on the calendar, and decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis as to whether these events will take place. Please stay tuned to our website and social media channels for prompt announcements.

We look forward to welcoming you back to our Tacoma History Museum at 919 Pacific, and our current exhibit, "Bank on Tacoma."  Bookmark this page for updates in the days and weeks to come. In the meantime, please continue to interact with us via our website, our social media channels, and through e-mail.



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