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History Museum offers a look back when times were really tough

Post by Craig Sailor / The News Tribune on Dec. 21, 2011 at 6:24 am with No Comments »
December 20, 2011 6:19 pm

Breakfast outside the Tacoma Commons Mission; Chapin Bowen, December 1930; WSHS
The Washington State History Museum announced on Tuesday their main show for 2012: “Hope in Hard Times.” The exhibit at the Tacoma museum will show how Washingtonians survived during the Great Depression. Using art, photos and everyday objects from the Depression era the exhibit will bring to life a time that few remember.

The museum said the exhibit will also illustrate parallels between the Great Depression and current Great Recession. A companion exhibit, “Hope in Our Times,” will feature photographs from students at Key Peninsula Middle School.

The exhibition will be open at the Washington State History Museum on Monday, February 20 and run through Sunday, November 4.

Artifacts and images from the Hope in Hard Times collection include:

Paintings and sketches of Ronald Debs Ginther, one of the most complete visual records of the Great Depression, along with a collection of his personal belongings.

A billy club used during the 1934 “Battle of Smith Cove,” where 1,200 strikers were teargassed on Seattle’s Piers 40 and 41 by police attempting to maintain order.

Tenino scrip, the nationally famous cash substitute used in Tenino, Wash. after the Citizens Bank of Tenino failed in 1931.

Identification cards for the Unemployed Citizens League, a powerful force in Washington state with over 40,000 members by 1934.

Popular music from the era, featuring artists such as Bing Crosby, Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington.

Political pins representing several different political and labor interests active in the 1930’s.

A baseball and mitt from 1930-1939, when the American sport took a hit with attendance down by 40 percent. Team owners looked for ways to survive the loss of revenue, like offering free admission to women and generating income with the first live radio sports broadcast.

A first aid kit used by Civil Works Administration personnel, a short-term program administered by state governments that provided work for many men throughout the winter of 1933-1934.

Keepsakes and memorabilia from a young girl named Josephine Kelley who died of diphtheria in 1927. Items include hand-sewn clothes, toys and a lock of her hair.

Programming highlights include:
Ghosts of the Great Hall, a school program in which live actors present monologues featuring characters from the Depression era such as dance marathoner June Havoc, a hunger marcher, and a hobo train jumper. Ghosts of the Great Hall will be featured every Wednesday from February 29 – March 28, 2012 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

First-Friday Gallery Talks, held from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the gallery on select Fridays in March through November 2012. Talk topics include Riding the Rails, Dancing ‘til you Drop, Gangsters and G-Men, Sin, Scandal and Sabotage and Hard Times in Hooverville. Visit to view complete schedule.

Screening of Gone with the Wind, a depression-era film, with guest commentary taking place on Sunday July 22, 2012 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

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