Eighth annual museum archive crawl takes attendees on a trip through time


Morgana Carroll

Tooth + Tusk Exhibit at the MCE.

Morgana Carroll, Scene Editor

History and artifact enthusiasts gathered in the Brooks Library parking lot on the morning of Oct. 1 for the eighth annual Archive Crawl. This event offers a tour of the archives and museums in Ellensburg while attendees listen to archivists and curators share their collections. 

The event was sponsored by CWU libraries, the Museum of Culture & Environment (MCE), the Central Branch of Washington State Archives, the Kittitas County Historical Museum, and the Ellensburg Public Library & Archives. The tour included all of the sponsors and ended with a visit to the MCE.

According to University Archivist Julia Stringfellow, while the difference between archives and museums can vary, the main difference is typical in the type of artifacts they have in their collections. Archives usually consist of paper documents and correspondences, while museums usually have more three-dimensional displays and artifacts. 

Stringfellow said that there are some notable exceptions, such as larger museums like the Smithsonian having their own archive section.

Students viewing MCE Tooth + Tusk Exhibit. (Morgana Carroll)

Megan Stanley, sophomore in health management, said that she went on the crawl because she has an interest in history. Most of the students who went on the trip were in museum studies. 

Museum Collections Manager Lynn Bethke said one of the goals of the crawl was to raise awareness for the museums and archives in town during American Archives Month.

“The importance is about raising awareness of all these different organizations that have similar goals, preserving history and sharing stories of the past and the present,” Bethke said. 

Stanley said that she didn’t know about most of the organizations, so she was glad that she had seen them on this trip.

“I’ve been to the County Historical Museum before but that was it. I’d never been in the back room of the museum of culture. I’ve never been to the Seattle Archives. I’d never been to the Washington State Archives that were just across the street,” Stanley said. 

Bethke said that she enjoys getting to see the attendees experience the in-depth look. 

“My favorite part of the crawl is seeing people’s reactions,” Bethke said. “When people get to go behind the scenes of a museum it’s a different experience.” 

Stringfellow said that her favorite part of the crawl was seeing the public library’s collection of Manastash Ridge journals.

Museum attendees view Tooth + Tusk exhibit at MCE. (Morgana Carroll)

“If you climb up the Manastash Ridge there’s a book on the top that you can sign,” Stringfellow said. “The public library has all of those, going back to the ‘70s.”

Stanley said that for her, the most memorable part was a story she heard at the County Historical Museum about a woman who became an urban legend. 

“They went off about this woman who lived in this house and she went crazy and killed her husband and went to the asylum, and then she escaped and no one ever saw her again. If you see her on the side of the road don’t pick her up, she’s a ghost or something like that.”

Stringfellow said the most memorable part for her was, “One thing people like to do is, across the street at the Washington State Archives they have jail records, so they’ll ask can you go through the records to see if my family member was here.”  

Stanley said that her favorite part of the crawl was getting to see the unique history that Kittitas County has and seeing how passionate the curators and archivists were when they talked about the history behind their collections.

“It’s important because it’s knowledge we take for granted because we can find this information pretty easily,” Stanley said. “How did places like Ancestry.com get a hold of those records? Because places like this keep track of them.”