12/1/14 – Warts and Frogs: a 19th Century Explanation

From current popular television shows like Dr. Oz to the evening news and the morning newspapers, it seems like we are constantly bombarded with information pertaining to our health. The information is generally taken from the latest scientific research and expressed straightforwardly, in terms that most Americans can understand. A look through the archives shows… Read the Rest »

11/19/14 – Solar Power in the 18th and 19th Centuries

While combing the archives, SHRA researchers found a history of solar power that included a reference to a solar-powered printing press exhibited in Paris in 1878. This was a bit of a shock – – did we really know how to harness energy from the sun as early as 136 years ago? It turns out… Read the Rest »

11/17/14 – The Desert Land Patent of Cascinda Sanders

25-year old Cascinda Sanders hailed from Kansas but was living in Boise, Idaho as a housekeeper by 1890. She filed on arid land in the area pursuant to Congress’ passage of the Desert Land Act on March 3, 1877. Designed to further encourage settlement in the arid West, the act permitted settlers to file on… Read the Rest »

11/14/14 – Neither Snow nor Rain nor Heat nor Gloom of Night…

Technology has almost entirely killed the old-fashioned letter, and, in the wake of its demise, the mainstay federal agency whose history helps us trace our own country’s social and cultural past has been crippled. This summer I came across a pile of letters I exchanged with my husband during our courtship. I remember waiting for the… Read the Rest »

11/12/14 – Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup

According to this advertisement in the July 19, 1889 edition of the Idaho Statesman, mothers could purchase from “one of the best female nurses and physicians in the United States” a syrup for use during teething that “…relieves the child from pain, cures dysentery and diarrhea, griping in the bowels, and wind colic” for a… Read the Rest »

11/10/14 – ABCs vs PCBs

“Toxic substances hardly would seem a likely field of feminine expertise,” began an article from the Seattle Times in June 1980. Yet Margo Partridge, a woman who worked for the EPA, “finds more of a challenge in PCBs than the A, B, C’s of the kitchen.” Despite the fact that Partridge was an expert on… Read the Rest »

11/5/14 – State Lands for Schools

Part of the allure of the archives is that you never know what you might uncover. Not too long ago, SHRA researchers stumbled across a January 1941 letter from Idaho State Forester Franklin Girard. While the letter was of little consequence, Girard’s evocative letterhead pitted contrasting images of lush forests against fire riddled stumps. Even… Read the Rest »

11/3/14 – What’s in a Name? A Brief History of the “Colorado River”

The mighty Colorado River has not always been known as such. SHRA researchers were recently examining plats made by General Land Office surveyors along the Colorado River and discovered that the river has only been known by that name since 1921. The 1884 map shown below is a section of the original survey plat for Township… Read the Rest »

10/29/14 – Hey, Mr. Postman…Draw Me a Map

It’s rare today that the U.S. Postal Service requires much of American citizens wanting to send a letter aside from including the appropriate postage and legible sender/recipient information. However, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries the Post Office Department (predecessor to the Postal Service) demanded a bit more. The National Archives and Records… Read the Rest »

10/27/14 – Meet Dan Rice

Combing through old newspapers recently, we stumbled across a notice about a circus making its first visit to Idaho Territory. In the August 4, 1864 edition of the Idaho Tri-Weekly Statesman, the reporter asserted that “everybody has seen Dan Rice’s circus in one part of the world or another, and everybody goes to see it… Read the Rest »

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