Washington Stories Project Celebrated State’s Marginalized Communities

In celebration of our 40th anniversary, we look back at a 2007 project that gave diverse groups an opportunity to share their stories. This story is part of our 40 Years of Washington Stories series, bringing stories from our past to you each week on our blog.

The opening of Washington Stories at the Museum of History & Industry featured performances by the groups that contributed panels to the exhibit. The Croatian blank staged a dance performance.

The opening of Washington Stories at the Museum of History & Industry featured performances by the groups that contributed panels to the exhibit. The dancers above represented the Croatian Fraternal Union.

Humanities Washington is celebrating our 40th anniversary with 40 Years of Washington Stories. Each week on Spark, we’ll offer a snapshot from our past, sharing forty years of stories that have helped shape the humanities in Washington state.

For every group of people in Washington that has their past preserved in archives and museums, there are many more that lack a forum in which to share their community’s history. With this issue in mind, Humanities Washington partnered with the Ethnic Heritage Council and the Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) in 2007 to develop the Washington Stories project. The project sought out several of Washington’s ethnic communities with unique and under-examined origins and invited them to develop an exhibit designed to share their stories with the rest of the state.

The seven groups selected represented a wide range of Washington’s cultural diversity. The Tar Heel Roots Project told the story of the people who migrated from North Carolina to work in Washington’s coal and logging industries, while the Croatian Fraternal Union explored the history of the boat builders that came to the West Coast from Croatia in the 1990s. Each of these organizations had access to professionals from the Ethnic Heritage Council and MOHAI, who provided technical expertise during the exhibits’ construction.

In addition to the exhibits, each group gave a series of public performances and presentations at the exhibit’s grand opening in January 2007. After their run at MOHAI, the exhibits were sent on tour to museums around the state. By providing institutional support and technical assistance to these groups, the Washington Stories project helped preserve and celebrate the history of our state’s traditionally marginalized ethnic communities.

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