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Unlocking Panther history

Did you know:

  • Snohomish High School (SHS) is one of Washington state’s oldest and longest continuously operating high schools?
  • The SHS library has a collection of yearbooks dating back to 1905?
  • The SHS library has collected school newspapers since September 1903 and that the earliest SHS newspaper was called The Enterprise?
  • Miss Kathryn E. Case graduated from SHS's "four-year course" in 1889, graduated from the University of Washington in 1900 and then became a teacher of Latin and English for SHS in 1901? 

These and other interesting and important SHS Panther highlights are currently being uncovered by students in teacher John McPherson’s AP U.S. History class as part of a collaborative assignment and project with the school library and its special collections. For more than a century, SHS has gathered, retained, and stored a variety of materials and pieces pertaining to SHS's history. This compilation is known as the special collections and includes a wide variety of material objects including yearbooks, notebooks, devices, memorabilia, and clothing items.

“The idea of assembling the special collections was the brainchild of now-retired school librarian Volkert Volkersz about a decade ago,” said McPherson. “Our current school librarian Heidi Pike, along with Jennifer Whitney, have taken the next step in procuring proper storage materials and organizing this collection. Earlier this year, students from my AP U.S. History course expressed interest in the special collections during a library visit, and from this interest and a desire to enhance and improve these special collections emerged this collaboration.”

“I have always been so impressed with the amazing records our former SHS librarians have kept,” said Pike. “When I became the SHS librarian, I wanted to continue this tradition and organize the artifacts in a way that students and eventually our entire community can enjoy. In discussing this with Mr. McPherson, we thought it would be a perfect project for his AP U.S. History students to join in with. Not only are they researching the origin and historical story/significance of various artifacts, but they will also be sharing what they learn with the community through social media posts.”

As part of their assignment, students researched and promoted a single artifact drawn from the special collections. Students select a piece that they believe is of great value to the Snohomish community and its understanding of life at SHS. Students spent time photographing, researching, and publishing a social media post highlighting the artifact.

Through the project, students needed to address the following aspects of the artifact:

  • Identification: Define the purpose, design, model, year, and intent of the artifact. Essentially, what is it and what is it for?
  • Historical context: When and where was this artifact issued or used? What was to be done with this artifact and how was it done? Where on campus might it have been seen or employed? Was it a common item or a unique piece?
  • Importance: Why is this artifact worth keeping? What is its value to researchers and understanding the material culture of SHS and our community? What audience might be most interested in viewing or learning about this artifact?
  • Extension: What other artifacts within the special collections or the school’s trophy cases support or provide additional context regarding this artifact? How do they help us understand this piece?
  • Making an appointment: How can members of our community access this artifact? What arrangements do they need to make?

“By completing this project, our students will learn more about the history and culture of their school/district but also how archival research and preservation is conducted,” said MacPherson. “I want students to make connections with past generations by starting with a very familiar topic - their own school!”

Pike and McPherson added that they would love for the community and Panther alumni to consider donating additional historical artifacts that may be hiding in attics, boxes, or scrapbooks to the library. Pike’s goal is to display these items in the library in an archivally safe way and to create a digital archive that the community can access online as well.

“We hope that through this student project, community members will become aware of the valuable holdings currently available within the special collections for viewing and study,” said McPherson. “These items are not limited to student study … they are available to the general public as well. We want the greater community to know that what has already been donated has been valued and respected.”

Please contact SHS librarian Heidi Pike at 360-563-4040 or if interested in donating a historical artifact.