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Oliver S. Van Olinda Photographs of Puget Sound, 1880s-1930s

Howard Darlington and Frank Atkins reading outdoors, 1893
Howard Darlington and Frank Atkins reading outdoors, 1893

A collection of 420 photographs depicting life on Vashon Island, Whidbey Island, Seattle and other communities of Washington State's Puget Sound from the 1880s to the 1930s. This collection provides a glimpse of early pioneer activities, industries and occupations, recreation, street scenes, ferries and boat traffic at the turn of the century. Also included are a few photographs of Native American activities such as documentation of a potlatch on Whidbey Island. Most of the photographs were taken by Oliver Scott Van Olinda (1868-1954) a career newspaperman and resident of Vashon Island.

Oliver Scott (O.S.) Van Olinda was born in La Salle County, Illinois in 1869. In 1884, he traveled with his family in a covered wagon from Bedford, Iowa to Sidney, Nebraska where he learned to set type at the Redington Press at age 17. He moved from Nebraska to Vashon Island, Washington in August 1891. His father, Elmer Eugene Van Olinda, and his sister Mattie and brother Charles, also relocated to Vashon. Later, another sister Jessie was born. He eventually married Ida M. Anderson, another Vashon resident. They had two children, Myrtle and Andrew "Eugene".

Oliver Scott Van Olinda and his father ran numerous businesses on the island, including the Island Home newspaper, which was published from 1895-1897 and the Vashon Island News-Record. Oliver Scott's brother Charles served as the first postmaster on Vashon when he opened the Portage Post Office on May 18, 1903. For three years Oliver Scott Van Olinda published another weekly paper, The Stanwood Press, in Stanwood, Snohomish County. He also maintained a house on Whidbey Island, starting about 1900, where he was the editor of the Island County Times, a Coupeville newspaper. In addition to his newspaper publishing duties, Oliver Scott Van Olinda also managed a commercial wireless station in Olympia for a short while. Van Olinda served for 18 years as historian of the Vashon-Maury Pioneer Society. He was an adept writer producing many lively stories of Puget Sound pioneer life for both adults and children. In 1935, he published a book of local history, History of Vashon-Maury Island.

Interior of Island County Times office, Coupeville, 1903
Interior of Island County Times office, Coupeville, 1903

About the Database

The information for Oliver S. Van Olinda Photographs was researched and prepared by the UW Libraries Special Collections Division and Cataloging staff in 2002. All of the photographs from this collection with the exception of duplicates were included in this database: The images were scanned from photographic prints and lantern slides in grayscale and color using a Microtek Scanmaker 9600L and saved in .jpg format. Some manipulation of the images was done to present the clearest possible digital image. The scanned images were then linked with descriptive data using the Contentdm software suite. The original collection resides in the UW Libraries Special Collections Division as the Oliver S. Van Olinda Collection no. 376.

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