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Volunteer Corner: The Latah County Historical Club

By Caitlin Harrold, LCHS Volunteer

My name is Caitlin and I have been volunteering at the Latah County Historical Society for the past few months. Through this experience, I have learned just how important collecting and preserving local history is to a community. It builds connections between citizens, celebrates the legacies of our ancestors and local heroes, and gives voice to the smaller stories that often get lost in the larger narratives.

This picture is from an event pamphlet in 1929 held at the still operational Kenworthy Theatre in Moscow, ID. The Historical Club was often holding various events like this to fundraise money.

For the past few weeks, I have been sorting through different collections and cataloging them into our database. One of the collections I worked on was about the Latah County Historical Club. I learned how exhilarating life was here in the 1900’s through newspaper clippings, letters, event flyers, and program pamphlets that have been collected over the years. County residents faced immense challenges to settle this land already inhabited by the Palouse, Coeur d’Alene, and Nez Perce tribes. Wild animals, economic instability, war, and murder are just some of these challenges that I came across in my work.

However, despite these setbacks, there were always people willing to work together to overcome the difficulties this community faced. One organization that did just that was the Historical Club. Active throughout the twentieth century, this club had an enormous impact on this community. They held various fundraising events that not only helped the local community but also the country in times of need.

Each year, the Historical Club recorded their many achievements. This picture is from their program booklet in the year 1944-1945, and it shows the many contributions they made for their community and their country.

The most interesting part of this experience for me has been seeing how the people of the past reach through time and still have an influence today. As a University of Idaho student, I have spent countless hours on campus not giving a second thought to the names of the buildings my classes were in. After doing this project, I can now appreciate the stories and people behind the names of these buildings. For example, the Wallace Residence Hall on campus has one wing named after Idaho’s third governor, William J. McConnell. McConnell was a prominent figure within the community and owned several businesses in Moscow. His house has since been converted into a museum and is cared for primarily by the Latah County Historical Society.

I have learned so much already, but I am excited to continue learning about this community and its vibrant history!

The McConnell Mansion, built in 1886, was the home of Idaho’s third governor William McConnell. It has since been converted into a education center/museum and can still be toured today.

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