Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Latah County's Impressive Commitment to Education

As the children of Latah County return to classes this week, we are reminded of the area's long history of educational excellence.  Generations of Latah residents have sent their sons and daughters off to schools big and small, believing that a good education would ensure future successes. 

Some schools, like that at American Ridge, were quite small.  Such places served both primary and secondary students in the rural area.  Teachers were expected to provide lesson for children with a wide range of capabilities, while simultaneously managing a classroom of diverse learners.

American Ridge School, 1895
Each small town in Latah County also had its own school.  In places like Deary, the children would enjoy smaller class sizes and a handful of dedicated teachers who could devote more time and energy into tailoring lessons to a child's age.

Deary's School Children on Parade, 1920s

While in Moscow, the younger children attended formal elementary schools and the older students were educated at the high school. 
Moscow Elementary School Class, 1903

Class in Russel School, 1928

Dedication of Moscow's First High School, 1889
Yet, no matter where they were they attended school, Latah County children were sure to receive a first-rate education in a nurturing and enjoyable environment.
Children on Playground of Irving School, undated
So what were students learning in decades past?  The museum maintains a rich collection of textbooks donated by Latch County residents, and this provides us with a window into the teachings of an earlier era.

For example, Johnny Sandberg of Dry Creek, School District No. 83 near Troy, received instruction based on Mace's A School History of the United States (1904).  A review of the book's study questions reveals a great deal about the country's contemporary political climate and concerns.

"Ought the Unites States to govern the Philippines or give them independence?  To what race do the inhabitants of the Philippines belong?  What was the cause of the insurrection (in the Philippines)?"  

"Describe some effects upon a country of the reckless use of its natural resources.  Describe the inventions for the conquest of the air."

"How have the great wheat farms and flouring mills affected the farmers to the eastward?  Ask your grandfather about the old-time grist and saw mills.  Where did George Washington get his beef?  Where do you get yours?"

Another student textbook, Loyal Citizenship (1929), provided an introduction to civic education for middle school aged children.  The text's preface in some ways reflects the culture of the era, and yet also contains words that ring true today.

We send our best wishes to all students returning to school.  Finally, remember that our archives are a great resource for students of any age working on research projects! 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Interested in Becoming a Docent?

The Latah County Historical Society is in need of a few good docents to staff McConnell Mansion during our visiting hours from 1:00 p.m to 4:00 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.

(Note: In case you are unfamiliar with the term docent, defines it as "a person who is a knowledgeable guide, especially one who conducts visitors through a museum and delivers a commentary on the exhibitions".)

As a docent, you will gain a detailed knowledge of the mansion and its history. No previous experience as a docent is necessary, we will train you and give you all of the information you will need to know. Training includes a run through on management of the mansion gift shop, which has been scaled down to sell publications and note cards. If you run into any issues, help is just a short walk across the street (to the Centennial Annex) or a phone call away.

During a slow shift at the mansion, docents are welcome to read, do homework, or to have friends come visit. Docents can hang out on the front porch and enjoy the view when the weather is nice.

Docents are some of our most dedicated volunteers, and we love them dearly! If you or anyone you know is interested in becoming a docent, contact us at (208) 882-1004 or

Terry & Sue serving at the Victorian Mother's Day Tea.

Kitty with the lovely donation jar she decorated for the Ice Cream Social.

We also welcome volunteers in other capacities! Our organization literally could not function without our volunteers. Other opportunities to volunteer include providing refreshments for events, assisting with mansion tours, conducting oral histories, helping with special events, working with the collections committee, carpentry and yard care, and more. One of our favorite observations is that there is always something to do at LCHS!

Volunteers enjoying a free luncheon before the Ice Cream Social.

Gary, our volunteer of the year, with his plaque.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

LCHS: It's the Coolest Place to Be

Historical societies are getting a lot of good publicity lately.  TLC premiered a new season of Who Do You Think You Are? a few weeks ago, and on last night's episode, television and film star Zooey Deschanel visited several archives on her quest to learn more about a great-great-great-great grandmother.  Even the MTV show Catfish recently visited a Michigan historical society while investigating the identity of a mysterious woman.  With such prominent pop culture spotlights turned toward the world of archives, I'd venture to say historical societies are down-right cool.  But then, I might have a bias.

As I await the arrival of some Hollywood star here at the Annex (hey, maybe Brad Pitt's great-great uncle was from Bovill), I am delighted to assist anyone interested in utilizing our impressive collections.  Nearly every day I am able to provide a visitor with information about their historic home, about a relative, or perhaps just about a topic which deeply interests them.  We have a wide variety of primary and secondary sources available here.

Thanks to the incredible hard work and dedication of LCHS volunteers past and present, we have many volumes of transcribed birth, death, and marriage notices from area newspapers.  Logs of tombstone inscriptions from Latah County cemeteries, abstracts of probate records from 1888-1908, and detailed records of Moscow's National Register of Historic Places are all valuable sources.  Guides to our oral history collection and sizable assortment of maps also aid researchers in their search.

Some of our most frequently used resources

We maintain a rich collection of published works on Latah County and Idaho history.  Many of the texts in the research library are now out of print, and are therefore difficult to locate.  While we do not lend out items from our collections, we can make copies of small sections.  Finally, we have a number of local history books for sale here at the Annex and at the McConnell Mansion.

Books of local and regional interest

Our map collection is another component of the research library.  The collection is exceptionally diverse, as it is comprised of documents from the 1880s through the present, representing communities large and small, published by the federal government, municipal bodies, political groups, and private companies.

A portion of our map collection

 This is just a sampling of our archival collection.  We maintain thousands of photographs, scrapbooks, documentary records, and material objects.  If you haven't had occasion to visit the Centennial Annex before, I encourage you to stop by and check out these wonderful resources for yourself.  Should you have any specific research questions, but are unable to visit our archives in person, please contact us at  


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Visitors to the Annex

The Orviks visited the LCHS Annex, traveling all the way from Norway.

Our of our main functions as a museum and library is to provide researchers with information and access to our collections. As unlikely as it sounds, we receive visitors from all over the country, and occasionally from different parts of the world. This year our services have been utilized by researchers from the local area, and from as far abroad as Norway.

Asulf Orvik and his wife visited us in search of information about family members that immigrated to Big Bear Ridge and Deary. We were delighted to be able to provide them with some of the information they requested.

Some of our most common research requests are for family history, the history of a building or its owners, or for photos showing the changing appearance of a building or event. If there is something about the history of Latah County that you would like to know, please come visit us at 327 East Second Street, Moscow, Idaho.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Wocsomonian

Friday, May 14, 1926 edition of the Wocsomomian, the Moscow High School newspaper.

Excerpts from the 1926 Senior Edition of "The Wocsomonian":

Senior Prophecy 
"Scene: Business office in Spokane.
Business Man (Calls his secretary in). Take this letter for me, please, Miss Anderson. 'Mr. Ph. Soulen, superintendent of the combined schools of Viola, Troy, Cornwall, Genesee and Kendrick. Headquarters at Joel, Idaho. Dear Philanderer: We regret to inform you that the subscription to the Spokesman Review which the senior class presented you at their graduation, expired twenty years ago. Please inform us at once whether you care to renew your subscription and if so, we will furnish you with backnumbers for the past decade. Yours truly.' 'Mr. Arnold Lyon. Twin Falls, Idaho. Dear Sir: I wish to congratulate you on the recent arrival of the twelfth pair of twins. Evidently you have not needed Mr. Burkett’s advice about the average American family being small. We wish you and your wife, Margaret, success in future enterprises. The incubator which you ordered is being shipped by fast air freight. Respectfully yours;” to Miss Mary McKenna, Potlatch, Idaho. “Dear Miss McKenna: Upon hearing about your recent engagement we can now understand the wisdom of your motto, 'If at first he doesn't propose, try, try again.' We realize how glad you must be to get out of your work as cheese 'censor, (scentsor) for the Hall-Walker company. Hopefully yours,' 'That will be all right now, Miss Anderson […]”.

Article continues on, the business man receives a visitor, a former classmate come to talk about the old days.

Reminisces include:

“Cliff: ‘Speaking of overalls—I notice in the Bingeville Tribune that Art Kralowec, together with his son, Josephus have recently devised an automatic hair-comber and curler for bald-headed men. So far the whatnot has proven to give satisfactorily satisfactory satisfaction. (Miss Anderson brings in Wocsomonian).

Mr. O: Well, here is the old Wocsomonian. Little Alfred Diethelm, Jr., sends me the old paper ever year. You remember Alfred, he chose Helen for his wife and now little Alfred Jr., remembers me. Mr. Diethelm is manager of the Non-Squeak Wooden Legs for left-handed people. His business is stepping right along. Well, let’s see what is in the paper. Here’s the alumni faculty column: Mrs. R. U. A. Bensen (Anna Luvaas) ’26, is giving a course in aesthetic dancing at the Agriculture College of Tia Juana. Mr. Alphonse Moser, ’26, has recently accepted a 25-week contract with Goldwyn Picture Co. His first picture is the “Walking Velocepede” in three parts. […]’”.

From “Around School”“Herman Ottness had so many excuse blanks last week that he had to hire an expert to determine which was which”.
From "Jokes"“’Tillmer says he’s going to marry the prettiest girl in town,’ remarked Galatha Carter.
‘The idea!’ exclainmed Thelma Woodward, ‘I don’t even know him.’”

The Wocsomonian also features a society column, advertisements, sports, articles, senior class will, and other items.

To see more issues of the Wocsomonian, please come visit us in the Annex at 327 East Second Street.