Historians have a special fondness for archivists and librarians, because they collect and maintain many of the files that we depend on to find information. And one of the my favorite sources of information has just been made available by the good people at the University of Washington Libraries. They have digitized the issues of Pacific Fisherman magazine between 1903 and 1911.
If you are interested in the development of fishing and have not yet spent some time with the back issues of Pacific Fisherman, log on and take a look. I always learn new things when I spend time with this premier source of information about West Coast fishing. I would spend more time reading old issues if they were in the Valley Library in Corvallis, rather than in Newport at the Guin Library at the Hatfield Marine Science Center under the custody of the very able Janet Webster.
Pacific Fisherman was one of a series of monthly newspapers started in Seattle in 1902 by Miller Freeman, who the library describes as “a fishing industry magnate, Republican party activist, and the founder and leader of Washington State’s Anti-Japanese League. Many of its publications were trade and marketing periodicals distributed free to qualified subscribers in specific industries.” It may well have been delivered free to fishermen, but within its pages over the years, there are plenty of small comments listing the increase in subscriptions from fishermen and industries in other countries. It was obviously a very important source of information about technology transfer. And it is obvious from its pages that the technology transferred very quickly indeed.
Miller was also, as the library noted, a political power when it came to fisheries development. As the library again notes, Freeman, who was born in 1875, served on the Pacific Fisheries Conference; International Halibut Commission; North Pacific Fisheries Treaty; he was a spokesman for the preservation and development of fisheries in America. He died in 1955.
Among the issues online are those of 1909 that chronicle the Alaska-Yukon Pacific Exposition held in Seattle. The theme of the exposition was “The Gateway to the Orient.”This World’s Fair (there were pavilions from Canada and Japan) was held on the University of Washington campus. For more information, check here:
While Pacific Fisherman contains a lot of information about fishing, there are other pleasures, such as the excellent quality of the black and white photographs. It’s also a great primer on the development of advertizing, watching as the ads change form over the years. While the paper was based in Seattle, it also covered events around fishing in Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and California. I was especially grateful for the coverage of the California tuna fishery during the 1930s and 1940s, while I was working on my dissertation.
When I started to research the development of the trawl fishery off Oregon, the pages of Pacific Fisherman were one of the first places I searched. That’s where I learned that Lee Alverson was working on the development of fishing gear, as Bob Hitz writes about in his previous post.
I’ve added these pictures to the blog for the pure pleasure of looking at them. And if you have a bit of spare time and want to read some history, this digital collection is a great place to browse.