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Discovering Latah County's Unique History in the Backlog

By Max Radil, LCHS Intern, University of Idaho History undergraduate

I spent this past semester working in the Latah County Historical Society’s collections. My task was to sort through the backlog of donations that had been received over the years and determine which were relevant to be formally accepted. An entire room upstairs was devoted to containing this backlog. My process was pretty simple. As I went through donations, some of which were given to the Historical Society decades ago, I came across many that were incomplete or missing proper documentation. This was the only major issue I ran into.

An item found in the LCHS accession backlog.

 While I certainly made a dent in the collections, I did not manage to get through the whole backlog. However, I learned a lot just from the couple dozen donations I managed to process. The most shocking realization was about the existence of Psychiana. Who knew that Robinson Park’s namesake was the leader of a new religious movement? That it was a mail-order religion with members worldwide was even more fascinating.

 

My biggest takeaway from this experience is that nowhere is as simple as it seems. Even the small town of Genesee apparently once had a red-light district! Everything and everywhere has a history that is incredibly complex and diverse, which is why organizations like the Latah County Historical Society are so important. Mapping out the whole history of Latah County is no easy feat.

 

Here's some other cool stuff I found:

Lots of cool maps such as this one of the University of Idaho campus:


 This neat plate (I wish Joe Vandal looked like this instead of his current appearance):


 This massive “Roy Naylor Scrap-Book” (thanks Roy!):

 

And finally, it was nice to see Calvin and Hobbes in an actual newspaper:


Interested in working with the collections at LCHS? Send us an email at lchslibrary@latahcountyid.gov to learn more about our volunteer opportunities.

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