New website is a who’s who of Washington state’s officials

  • By Jerry Cornfield Herald Writer
  • Monday, August 15, 2011 12:01am
  • Local News

OLYMPIA — From Washington’s first governor to a Nirvana bassist to an Everett paperboy who grew up and ran for president, they’ve carved out a place in state history.

Now, their lives and those of other seminal state figures are united in a new free online database called HistoryMakers.

It’s a searchable repository of biographical data on 300 men and women who’ve had a hand in Washington’s evolution from territory to the nation’s 13th most populous state.

That’s only a smidgen of the number of people Secretary of State Sam Reed and Assistant Secretary of State Steve Excell envision will one day be included on the weeks-old site.

“We have gaps and we definitely plan on filling them,” said Reed’s spokesman, Brian Zylstra. “We will make this even better.”

The site is set up for users to search by name, job, political party — including Whig and Populist — education and awards.

The governors are all there including, Elisha Ferry, who has the unique distinction of being the only person to be governor of Washington as a territory and state. Ferry County is named for him.

Sen. Henry Martin “Scoop” Jackson of Everett, who served in the U.S. Senate in parts of four decades and twice ran for president, is among the crop of past and present members of Congress.

You can learn about people such as Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic, a onetime chairman of the Wahkiakum County Democratic Party; Nancy Evans, wife of former three-term governor Dan Evans, and longtime state Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island.

House Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, isn’t in there, but Zylstra said it’s only a matter of time.

This is a work in progress with volunteers relied upon to gather and input data, he said.

“New entries will be entered as we have volunteer help to work on them,” he said. “We will do our best to keep the information up to date. Our goal, through the help of volunteers, is to include all current and former statewide elected officials, Supreme Court justices and legislators, regardless of their place in history.”

Reed received no state funding to get it started and only one salaried staff member works on it, he said. Resources of the state library and state archives, both divisions of the Secretary of State’s Office, are tapped for material.

By offering only brief biographical info, the fledgling site intends to be substantively different from, the nearly 13-year-old online encyclopedia of historic events and individuals. Much of the content for HistoryLink comes from media coverage, essays and oral histories.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623;


The Secretary of State’s Office has set up a free online database of people from Washington. To visit the site, go to

For information on how to volunteer, call 360-704-7142.

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