The Northwest Room Partners with Tacoma Public Schools to Lead a Workshop for Local Educators

On Saturday, February 11, the Northwest Room helped lead a full-day workshop for over 100 Tacoma Public Schools teachers. “Grit City Stories: The Untold Tales of Tacoma” brought together TPL’s Northwest Room and Community Archives Center along with the Museum of Glass, the Washington State History Museum, the Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma Arts Live, the Foss Waterway Seaport, Pretty Gritty Tours, and other partners to demonstrate for teachers how they can connect their students to community stories and local history.

In addition to helping plan the event with Tacoma Public Schools, the Northwest Room team supported activities and sessions throughout the day.

The opening was delivered by Anna Trammell, Archives and Special Collections Manager, who spoke about partnering with the community to mitigate silences existing in Tacoma’s local historical record. 

dindria barrow, Community Archives Center Associate, then moderated a panel of community members who have all contributed their stories to the Community Archives Center project. The panelists included:

Alfonso Brown, a community advocate and doctoral student, who participated in an oral history interview, opens a new window

Charles Carson,  the Owner and Director of Beautiful Birds Family Services, Dove in Flight Productions, and Live 4 Love Human Outreach, who donated the Charles Carson Papers, opens a new window to the Community Archives Center

Amy Diehr, Interim Client Services Director at Tacoma Community House, who helped organize the Tacoma Community House Oral History Project, opens a new window and digitization of Tacoma Community House historic records

Mariia Petlovana, a current student at Tacoma Community College from Ukraine, who participated in the Tacoma Community House Oral History Project, opens a new window 

Seong Shin, Principal/Director of Interior Design at McGranaham Architects and Founder of WILLO (Women's Intergenerational Living Legacy Organization), who donated the records of WILLO, opens a new window to the Community Archives Center

The panelists spoke about the value of preserving Tacoma's stories, reflected on whose voice may be missing in local history, and shared what they hoped students could learn from their stories.

dindria barrow then led a breakout session titled "Collecting and Interpreting Community Stories with the Community Archives Center," which focused on how teachers could engage their students in the process of creating new content for the Community Archives Center project or interpret and learn from these new collections, opens a new window. Through hands-on exercises, dindria demonstrated the storytelling process and walked teachers through a series of activities that ask students to examine oral histories and primary sources to investigate and learn from community stories.

In the next breakout session, "Using Voices of the Past to Shape the Future: Incorporating Local History Into Your Classroom with the Northwest Room," Anna Trammell, Ilona Perry, Jim Peterson, and Leah Selinda Kusnierek took teachers through a series of three hands-on exercises using Northwest Room collections, opens a new window. Teachers used photographs as sources of evidence, examined a set of sources to investigate topics in local history, and explored how sources can be used to construct a timeline or tell a story. 

Northwest Room Librarian Spencer Bowman then led a session titled "Introduction to Oral History Recording Technology," which took teachers through the whole process of having their students engage in oral history recording projects. The hands-on workshop explained how students can use TPS-issued technology, Android and iPhone apps, and TPL Podcast Kits. Bowman also discussed best practices and tips for conducting these interviews.

The Northwest Room team also put together a small pop-up exhibit to showcase some highlights from the Willits Brothers Canoe Company Records, opens a new window which was displayed alongside the Seaport's collection of canoes and tools created or used by the Willits Brothers.

In another session, a panel of teachers and students who have partnered with the Community Archives Center spoke about their experience. These students reflected on the problem of missing voices in the historical record, went out and created projects that respond to this problem, and made those projects publicly available in the Northwest ORCA database. To explore these projects see the Franklin Pierce High School Ethnic Studies Interviews, opens a new window and the Lincoln High School English Class Interviews, opens a new window

Working with students is a high-impact way that we can demonstrate the value of local history collections and engage students in the process of making history. 

If you are a teacher who is interested in partnering with the Northwest Room, learn more about our instructional opportunities, opens a new window or complete our Class Instruction Request Form, opens a new window