Spokane in 1889
November 11th marks the 125th anniversary of Washington statehood. On Washington’s Birthday in February 1889, President Grover Cleveland signed the enabling act for Washington to become a state with the provision to draft a constitution. Delegates from around the territory were elected in May and the constitutional convention met in Olympia beginning on July 4th. After fifty days, they had drafted a constitution which was sent to the voters for a special election in October. Once ratified, President Benjamin Harrison signed the bill and Washington became a state on November 11, 1889.
In Spokane Falls, the city had barely emerged from the devastating fire of 1889 when Washington was declared a state. While the constitutional convention was meeting in Olympia, Spokane residents were digging out rubble and beginning the process of rebuilding. The Spokane fire and Washington statehood marked the beginning of Spokane as a modern city.
The current exhibit contains pictures taken after the Great Fire as well as illustrations and promotional materials showing Spokane’s race to rebuild the city.
The Ned M. Barnes Northwest Room is a unique special collection, focusing on the history of the Inland Pacific Northwest.
Tuesday -- 1pm - 8pm
Thursday -- 10am - 6pm
Wednesday, Friday & Saturday -- 1pm - 6pm
The Spokane Public Library is honored to house one of the finest and most extensive Northwest collections in the country. Comprising over 13,000 items, this superb collection is readily available to the public during open hours. Most of the collection is searchable through the Library's catalog. The collection consists of reference books, maps, directories, periodicals, government documents, and archival materials pertaining to the history, exploration, and settlement of the Northwest, or that region including Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and the province of British Columbia. The Northwest Room offers information on every period from the late 1700's to the present.
While there is emphasis on early voyages and overland expeditions, Indians, the fur trade, missions and pioneer life, materials on a wide variety of subjects such as flora and fauna, industries, biographies, art, and literature are also included. Personal journals and reminiscences, local histories, and descriptive materials are an important part of the continually growing collection. There is a small, but excellent photograph collection much of which was donated by Thomas Teakle who taught history for many years at Spokane's Lewis and Clark High School. We invite you to browse our Digital Collections, where you will find over 1,000 digital images drawn from the archives of the Northwest Room.
The commitment to Northwest materials began with George W. Fuller, Spokane Public Library's first librarian and author of a widely used history of the region. The current Fuller Collection includes old and rare materials, largely first editions of works. Gladys Smith Puckett, Library Director from 1937 to 1960, shared Fuller's vision and continued to collect Northwest materials throughout her tenure. Commitment to the collection lives on. Today, Northwest materials and the Fuller collection are housed in a special climate-controlled room, designed especially for the purpose, at the Downtown Library. This room features two glass display cases, a small gallery for fine art, a reading and study area, a workroom for materials preservation, a vault for extremely old and rare materials, and light sensitive glass.
The Northwest Room displays permanent art from the collection, including Catholic Ladders, “Bird’s Eye” or panoramic maps of Spokane, and original artwork. The room also includes five display cases, which feature temporary exhibits, which rotate several times a year.
For over 100 years, librarians at SPL clipped the newspapers for biographical information. These clippings include obituaries on pioneers, but they also contain all kinds of biographical information from papers in Spokane and around the Northwest. The Northwest Room has created a database for every name in these files which includes over five thousand names.
The Northwest Collection is a research collection therefore the materials are not available to check out. As many materials are rare and fragile, the following guidelines for use are always observed: