A historic picture book that documents the early times of Sumner is expected to hit bookshelves later this year. The city recently embarked on a book project in collaboration with Arcadia Publishing, North America’s leading publisher of local and regional history. The company is most well-known for its sepia-toned “Images of America” series, which have told the histories of more than 8,000 cities and towns in America, including Tacoma, Bonney Lake, Fife and Puyallup.
Sumner Communications Director Carmen Palmer and Community Development Director Paul Rogerson are leading the project.
“This opportunity gets photos out of the family photo albums and gets them into the public realm,” Rogerson said. “People in Sumner really care about the history. There is a real sense of community here, and these photos celebrate that.”
Palmer and Rogerson asked the public earlier this month to submit historic photos. So far, Palmer said the city has acquired about 70 images. The estimated 128-page book requires a minimum of 180 pictures with 8,000 to 18,000 words of descriptive text, primarily in the form of captions.
Palmer and Rogerson hope to benefit from a wide selection of photos housed in the Northwestern room at the Tacoma Public Library.
Photos received so far cover the 1900s through the early 1960s and capture Sumner’s unique history from the Daffodil Festival to downtown businesses, industry and social scenes.
Rogerson said many pictures reveal new details of the city’s history, and some capture a slice of Americana.
“One picture appears to indicate that (news) reporters once picked the Daffodil Queen, and that, one year, there appeared to be a 23-year-old picked as the Daffodil Queen,” Rogerson said.
Many pictures collected so far document the early days of the Daffodil Festival.
Glen Whaley and his wife, Carol, owners of the Spartan Agency in downtown Sumner, said they’re excited to contribute to the book project. At home, they have thousands of photos that show the history of the Daffodil Festival. Glen has worked on the Daffodil Festival since its inception, and he took photos for the nonprofit since 1995.
The Whaleys also are tickled with the similarities between earlier photos of downtown compared to modern day.
“When you look at the street lights, not much has changed,” Glen said.
Carol said the book project has inspired a recognition of the importance to keep track of history regularly. She remembers shop owners who took pictures of themselves as they stood outside their shop doors.
Today, those pictures exist. But Carol also said shop owners don’t regularly do that anymore.
Meanwhile, Rogerson said pictures of downtown and of family and social life is what he finds most fascinating. He said the photos show similarities between the past and today.
“There is a sense of continuity,” he said.
Palmer, who worked at three history museums before she came to Sumner, said it’s nice to go back to her roots.
“And this time, it’s for Sumner,” she said.
Palmer hopes the pictures and text that are collected in the book will be part of a continuous effort to build a city that people will enjoy 100 years from now.
Rebecca Coffey, an acquisitions editor at Arcadia, said it’s a lot of fun because the whole town is involved.
“Carmen and Paul are bringing a positive passion to the project,” she said.
Sumner is accepting photos to help tell the city’s history. The submission deadline is Feb. 28. Photos can be mailed to Sumner City Hall, attention Carmen Palmer, 1104 Maple St., Sumner, WA 98390. The city will provide a digital print of the photo to the owner. If photos are digital, they can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Arcadia Publishing asks that photos be scanned at 8 inches wide and 300 DPI. A description of each submitted photo is requested.
Reporter Andrew Fickes can be reached at 253-552-7001 or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_andrew.