Volunteer Blog


Chronicling America/NDNP/Idaho Digital Newspaper Project

By Erin Bostwick, Archivist Technician, State Archives

The Idaho Digital Newspaper Project was a project overseen by the Idaho State Archives and funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities with support from the Library of Congress and the Montana Historical Society. A six-year undertaking, the Idaho Digital Newspaper Project endeavored to digitize 300,000 pages of historic Idaho newspapers from across the state. That goal was realized in early 2020. 87 different Idaho newspaper titles were digitized, with date ranges spanning from 1865 to 1925.

For more than sixty years, the Idaho State Archives has microfilmed Idaho’s historic newspapers. Microfilm is a very stable medium and can last 500 years before it begins to deteriorate. ISA has the world’s largest collection of Idaho newspapers – but the microfilm is only available to access at Merle W. Wells Research Center in Boise. To help make its collection of historic Idaho newspapers more accessible, ISA applied for a grant to turn the microfilm copies of newspapers into digital copies.

Featured newspapers were chosen based on the microfilm quality, the amount of local content in the paper, and an effort to achieve statewide coverage. Newspapers selected for digitization covered some of the most significant events in state history, including Idaho’s statehood in 1890, statewide women’s suffrage in 1896, the mining wars, and the subsequent assassination of former Governor Stuenenburg. The newspapers also chronicle industries and undertakings that helped shape Idaho, like mining, the logging industry in the north, and irrigation in the south. Many of these newspapers also cover much smaller, hyper-local news – like visitors to town, local elections, and new fruit tree pruning techniques being tested.

National news was also reflected in local newspapers. Civil War Reconstruction, the Spanish American War, World War One, the Spanish Flu, the prohibition of alcohol, and national women’s suffrage all grabbed headlines in Idaho’s papers.

The newspapers digitized as part of the Idaho Digital Newspaper Project are a great resource for local historians. At the State Archives we have used them extensively to learn more about local businesses via advertisements, historic crimes, past elections, and to do genealogical research.

The Idaho Newspaper Project is part of Chronicling America, a website hosted by the Library of Congress. Chronicling America currently has over 17 million pages of U.S. newsprint digitized, including Idaho’s 300,000 pages. All the newspapers are browse-able and keyword searchable. In the current landscape of distance learning and remote research, the Idaho Digital Newspaper Project is a valuable contribution to the Idaho State Historical Society’s digital offerings.

The Idaho Digital Newspaper Project can be accessed here.

Idaho State Archives (ISA) is a renowned repository for historic material relating to Idaho and Northwest. You can find Historical and genealogical information, Photographs, government records, manuscripts, books, oral history interviews, maps and microfilmed newspapers and records. In addition, there is a permanent exhibition showcasing Abraham Lincoln and his legacy in Idaho and temporary exhibit that has a specific theme each quarter. The staff are great at assisting you with your particular needs. The ISA hours are Tues- Sat 11-4. If you have time and looking to explore a little more about Idaho, ISA is a great resource.

Thank you to the volunteers who have spent hours assisting in research, photograph digitation, and documenting collections.

There will be a virtual Volunteer Orientation on Thurs, Nov 5 6p.m. If there is an interest in attending and becoming a volunteer complete the volunteer application.


Who Lies Beneath? The Treasure Valley

By David M. Habben, ISHS Volunteer – Old Idaho Penitentiary

I have been researching, documenting, and photographing cemeteries and

graveyards throughout the country and internationally for nearly 20 years. One thing I have learned when taking the thousands of photos in my collection is that everyone has a story. Some are famous and some infamous. Some, while not famous, are downright interesting. The Treasure Valley is no different. The permanent residents of our cemeteries all have stories to tell. Over the years, many of the stories have been forgotten. I would like to relate three of them to you here.

The name Jesus Urquides may not be familiar to you, but he had an enormous impact on the history of Idaho. When Urquides arrived in Boise in the mid-1860s, he was already a successful Mexican businessman. Boise was only a small village that included farms that provided food for the local mining camps. Urquides built 30 small cabins and was a generous and understanding landlord. Urquides Village, near the intersection of Broadway and Main Street, was a place to house the Mexican packers who worked for him. Urquides was the first packer to carry supplies to the newly discovered Thunder Mountain Mine in the Owyhee Mountains.   He was also the first to take the hazardous trip through the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the Carson City and Virginia City, Nevada mines, and one of the first to pack into what is now Montana.

Urquides’s most challenging venture was packing 10,000 pounds of copper wire into the Yellow Jacket Mine for construction of the tramway out of Challis. The wire had to be brought to the mine in one piece, without a break. A splice would have been too dangerous for use on the tram. He wrapped the wire around the middles of 35 mules for the 70-mile trip up and down steep mountain terrain. Many times, a mule would slip and tumble down the mountain side, taking the entire packtrain along. This meant the mules had to be righted and the wire repacked. He was ultimately successful in making the delivery.

A book about Jesus Urquides’s life, “Jesus Urquides: Idaho’s Premier Muleteer” was written by Max Delgado and is still available. The city of Boise has erected a memorial to Urquides. At Main and First St. a bronze camera containing an image of Urquides is pointed as if taking the photo where his village of cabins once stood. A pedestal with text on four sides tells a small part of Urquides’s life story and features a model of the buildings that once stood in the village. He now permanently resides in Pioneer Cemetery on Warm Springs Avenue.

Another forgotten permanent resident of the Treasure Valley is Bonnie McCarroll, the Last Lady Bronc Rider. She was born Mary Ellen Treadwell in 1897 on her grandparents’ 2,000-acre cattle ranch outside Boise, Idaho. Bonnie McCarroll was riding “buckers” at age 10. She entered her first rodeo at Vancouver, Washington, in 1915, and married Frank McCarroll, a champion bulldogger, that same year.

She was the first to win the bronc riding championship at Madison Square Garden and the only cowgirl ever to win at the Garden and at Cheyenne in the same year. She rode at the Pendleton Round-Up from 1915 until her death in 1929, capturing the saddle bronc title in 1921 and 1922. McCarroll also was among the star performers at Tex Austin’s first International Rodeo held at London’s Wembley Stadium in 1924.

The Pendleton Round-Up of September 1929 was to have been McCarroll’s final competition, as she had planned to retire with her husband, Frank Leo McCarroll, a bulldogging performer, to their home in Boise. While giving a bronc riding exhibition, she was suddenly thrown from her mount, “Black Cat”. The animal turned a somersault upon her. She was rushed to a hospital but died later of her spinal wounds and pneumonia. After Bonnie’s tragic accident, the Pendleton Round-Up Rodeo discontinued bronc riding for women because it was deemed unsafe. By 1941 women’s bronc riding was discontinued from all major rodeo competitions. In 2002, Bonnie was posthumously inducted into the Rodeo Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City. She rests eternally at Morris Hill Cemetery.

Our third and final remembrance is that of Ed W. “Too Tall” Freeman, a Vietnam War Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient. He served as a Master Sergeant during the Korean War and was given a battlefield commission during the Battle of Pork Chop Hill. At that point in his career his dream was to attend flight school. However, because of his six-foot four stature he was considered too tall. In 1955 the height limit was raised allowing Freeman to enroll fulfilling a lifelong dream. The nickname “Too Tall” stuck with him throughout his military career. It would be during the Vietnam War that Freeman would receive the honor for heroic actions in battle.

In the Battle of Ia Drang, he flew through gunfire numerous times, bringing supplies to a trapped American battalion and flying dozens of wounded soldiers to safety. Freeman was a wingman for Major Bruce Crandall who also received the Medal of Honor for the same missions. Capt. Freeman rests at the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery in Boise.

My wish in bringing these stories back to your attention is to light a spark of curiosity that will lead to you researching and even visiting the many cemeteries and graves in the Treasure Valley to learn of the stories of the permanent residents who helped shape the cities and state of Idaho.



For Jesus Urquides; City of Boise, Pioneer Cemetery, Walking Tour – https://www.cityofboise.org/departments/parks-and-recreation/pioneer-cemetery-walking-tour/list/jesus-urquides/  and the book, “Jesus Urquides: Idaho’s Premier Muleteer = Jesus Urquides: El Arriero Ejemplar de Idaho” by

Max Delgado

For Bonnie McCarroll;  Bonnie McCarroll, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonnie_McCarroll

and National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, https://nationalcowboymuseum.org/rodeo-hall-of-fame/5285/

For Ed W. “Too Tall” Freeman;  Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ed_Freeman

and Vietnam War Hero: The Untold Story of Army Capt. Ed W. Freemanhttps://purpleheartfoundation.wordpress.com/2017/06/05/vietnam-war-hero-the-untold-story-of-army-capt-ed-w-freeman/


Volunteer Spotlight by Joan Bevirt:

 Old Idaho Penitentiary volunteer and Paramedic, David Habben.

He one of the many superstar volunteers who has volunteered for over 14 years at the Old Idaho Penitentiary. He holds multiple volunteer roles; weekly docent for public tours and school field trips, hearse attendant during Frightened Felons, and tour guide for Cemetery tours.

Favorite Aspect of Volunteering: Learning something new and hearing stories and working with the energetic, enthusiasm, humorous, and knowledgeable Old Idaho Penitentiary staff.

Why did you choose the Old Idaho Penitentiary? I love history! I believe history should be remembered, whether bad or good, and historical locations and buildings need to be preserved for future generations to visit and enjoy One of my faults is that I may be a little over-protective of the facility. I don’t want her getting abused or damaged. I love learning about the stories of the inmates and continue to learn new ones on a regular basis. Prior to my 40 years (and counting) as a paramedic I worked in law enforcement, so have a strong interest in the old prisons and systems. I’ve worked with a local paranormal investigation group for several years, so have an interest in the many “ghost” stories of the Old Pen as well. In fact, working a paranormal investigation at the Old Pen years ago was what got me first interested in volunteering there.

Share the impact of volunteering: Volunteering at the Old Idaho Penitentiary has been the most rewarding and most enjoyable position I’ve had. I’m currently 67 years old. When I turned 65, I made a promise to myself that at this point in my life I would not do something if it was not fun or enjoyable. That’s why I’ve continued to volunteer at the Old Pen all these years. I look forward to every tour and activity I work there.

Thank you, David, for giving your time and talents to those who visit the Old Idaho Penitentiary!


What comes to mind when you hear the word “volunteer?” According to Merriam Webster, a volunteer is “a person who expresses a willingness to undertake a service.” Let’s take a moment to explore that explanation. What does it mean to be willing? Being a volunteer means that you are offering something–something that is not required nor an obligation.

ISHS volunteers offer so much to visitors and staff. Volunteers love Idaho History, meeting people, sharing their unique skills, and talents and preservation of Idaho History.

Here are volunteer spotlights on just a few of the many volunteers from the State Museum, Old Idaho Penitentiary, and State Archives.

Currently we have limited volunteer roles. We anticipate volunteer reengaging when it is safe for all.

Reminder to always review the website to see happenings throughout the Idaho State Historical Society.


Meet Trudy!

“History comes to life at the museum.  As a volunteer you meet amazing people and learn about Idaho’s many cultures, from past to present.”   Trudy


Trudy is a well-known face around the Idaho State Museum and has worn many hats since 2019! Not only is she an Education Guide for school field trips, but an Ambassador, National History Day Judge, Western Museums Association volunteer, and Idaho History Day volunteer. Trudy will also begin guiding adult tour groups visiting the museum in the near future. Her favorite of these roles was serving as an Ambassador in the Righting a Wrong exhibition.


Before volunteering with the Idaho State Historical Society, Trudy served as an educator in the community throughout her professional career. She has a fondness for history, learning, and meeting and interacting with visitors. Volunteering with the Historical Society renewed Trudy’s passion for engaging with Idaho history, in particular the story of Polly Bemis.


Her advice to prospective volunteers: “Come try it out. If you love history and people, you won’t be disappointed. The staff members are knowledgeable, delightful, helpful and supportive.”


We’re so grateful to have such wonderful volunteers like Trudy at the Historical Society, as they help us promote and preserve Idaho history.


Jennifer Finke

She became a volunteer at both the Museum and the Old Idaho Penitentiary 14 years ago by attending a recruitment meeting.  She met both staff members, Kurt and Rachelle, liked them and decided to take advantage of the opportunities they were offering.

Here is her story:

The program at the Museum involved 20 to 30-minute activities for mainly 4th graders.  The programs consisted of 10-minute talks and 10 minutes of activity.  I learned to pan for gold, make butter, spin yarn and crush corn.  I also learned about mining, sheep, cows, Lewis and Clark, and Indians.  The best part was making the talks my own.  Kurt provided copies of what he presented and then allowed us volunteers to edit.  I always felt my opinion was valued.  I also participated in special programs such as “Museum comes to Life”.  I panned for gold until the museum closed for remodeling.

At the same time, I started doing tours at the Old Pen.  Rachelle had a couple of classes and gave us a detailed tour and then said, “Make up your own tour, show me your outline, and then jump in”.  I found much to my surprise that I love the 4th grade kids.  What a great age – still young enough to listen but not old enough to be jaded.  After the school tour season ended, I gave a couple of adult tours each week.  I worked special events as needed.  After a couple of years, I started sitting at the front desk greeting visitors.

I also did “other duties as assigned”.  This usually involved making something with my trusty sewing machine.  It started out with little bags for commissary coins.  We were selling coin in the gift shop and needed something for the kids to keep their purchase in.  That project evolved into HistiCoal bags, con cards packets, ball caps, trucker hats and beanies.  My thought was making things that we could sell cheap so the kids could take home a souvenir from the Old Pen.

I’ve made many other things for the good of the Pen – convict jackets, candy bags for Frightened Felons, a movie screen for the 1890’s cell house just to name a few.  I have loved the challenge when one of the staff says, “can you make this”.

What I have enjoyed most about volunteering is the people.  I have had the opportunity to know some very special younger than me people who have gone on to bigger things.  These people treated as an equal and a valued friend to the point that they taught me play trivia in the bar and drink Hamm’s beer.  All I had to do is take an interest in their lives which as an easy tradeoff for what I have gotten back.  How lucky I have been to have the staff people in my life.

Other people that have made this whole thing great are the other volunteers.  There is a group of us that all started around the same time.  I value my friendships with Jesse, Mr. T, Truman, Rod and his honey Sue, Don, Bob and Wally and Ray (both deceased).  Each of us give a good tour but each tour is different.  It’s been good to meet the newer tour guides such as David whose hobby is finding old cemeteries.  I will always have fond memories of these men.

Where else could I be and meet people from all over the world.  What a great thing.  Then there are the school kids.  The curiosity and comments made by the school kids from third and fourth graders to high schoolers gives hope for the future.  I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the teachers who our mentoring these young people.  I have seen far better engaged teachers than bad.


What would I say to a new volunteer?  Look for a place that will allow you to think.  Be prepared to put in some time learning about what is expected.  Don’t be afraid to change if it turns out this opportunity is not you after all.  You are there to help, not be helped.


My quote:  “Look for an opportunity within your interests and don’t hesitate to try something new.  Life can surprise you.”


We want to thank Jennifer for her sense of humor, adventurous will do attitude, talented sewing skills and overall positivity! Thank you for your years of volunteer service and we look forward too many more.


Bertha (Bert) Barton

She started when the David Leroy Abraham Lincoln collection was set up as an exhibit in the research center at the State Archives.  She desired to transcribe oral histories but meeting the need at the time she became a site hosts at the Abraham Lincoln collection exhibit, weekly she met and greeted visitors, directing visitors to the exhibit, giving them related pamphlets, and keeping a head count of visitors to the exhibit.

Her volunteer role shifted to transcribing original documents into the computer, so they can be preserved, accessible, and searchable.  Her first transcription was a lady botanist’s diary for a presentation that a staff member was putting together to go with the photographs of that journey. Other projects included; working on part of the 1890 census, a photographer’s list of his photos donated to the Archives, an entomologist’s log of his collections of insects, snakes, etc., and where he found them and where he sent them ( to various universities), and most recently minutes of various organizations (Idaho Woman’s Suffrage Association, WCTU, and currently what began in 1892 as the Woman’s Columbian Club and later became simply The Columbian Club.  The Columbian Club was instrumental in starting up the free lending library system in Boise, set up traveling libraries, and worked on getting the beautiful Carnegie Library built and up and running on Washington Street.


How did Bert decide to become a volunteer at the State Archives? She kept asking if there was something, she could do to help other than take care of visitors since she was feeling a bit guilty reading, working puzzles, etc., and looking perky.  That was when an Archives staff member asked if she could transcribe the botanist’s diary, she was set up with a notebook, and she was off and running .  When the site hosts were no longer needed, she continued to transcribe documents, and it’s been one adventure after another!  Not really keeping track, she thinks has been a volunteer for about five years.


Bert volunteers because she feels strongly about contributing to the community, to give back in some way.  The rewards in meeting and working with some terrific people and hopefully making a bit of a difference in someone’s life or for the future (the case here) is very rewarding.  To her, it’s the “lagniappe” that gives life extra zest.


Her favorite part of volunteering is traveling back in time with whatever project  she is working on and discovering something new and fascinating about that time period or the person or entity the project is about.


Bert shares this memory of a project. One unique thing that stands out is when transcribing the entomologist’s log.  I was getting to the bottom of a page and it was time to quit for the day, and there was a note written stating that his group was in the jungle (yes, jungle, not forest!) outside of McCall when they observed a hornet bite the head off a live dragonfly.  He was startled enough to make note of it (apparently not something commonly witnessed), and I was left with a queasy image.  Curious as to what the next page was about for my next session, that page was entitled “Arachnids.”  Great, spiders, my favorite (not!).  Learning about the Carnegie Library was a much more pleasant discovery!


When I asked Bert what she would say to someone was interested in volunteering, this was her response. If someone was interested in volunteering, I would say that it is a great feeling to be a part of preserving history, encouraging others to discover the past.  The past gives us perspective on what life was like in a time before ours and makes us appreciate what we have so much more, what values we don’t want to lose and that have prevailed over the centuries.  Sharing these discoveries with the public and future generations helps to ensure that the lessons of the past are not lost or forgotten.  It is rewarding to be a part of that purpose. Volunteering is my way of paying it forward.  Over the years, I have volunteered in several different ways, and it has never been time wasted.  It has been time spent meeting and working with dedicated people looking to share their time and talents to benefit a worthwhile effort and to fulfill a need.  Find what you like to do and share a bit of yourself.  Your own cup will overflow.

Bert, thank you for choosing Idaho State Archives to pay it forward. We truly appreciate your sense of humor, kind words, adventure for transcription and history.





Our guest blogger this month is Christina Olson.

Born and raised in Idaho, Christina Olson has worked in cultural resource management as an architectural and landscape historian for nearly 20 years. She holds a B.S. in Historic Preservation from Southeast Missouri State University and a M.A. in Historic Preservation from the University of Georgia. Currently, she serves on the Idaho Humanities Council, and as chairperson for the Idaho Historic Sites Review Board. She resides in Idaho Falls with her partner, two cats, and dog.

Been Here Before

The house that I call home was built 100 years ago. Nearly five generations of living happened here before my family unpacked in it and began losing change in the floorboards, marking walls, forgetting open windows in summer storms, and leaving muddy paw prints just beyond the reaches of porch door mats. Although I have lived here for a decade, over the past few months I have been getting to know intimate details of my home, the lost change and markings of families that lived here before mine. On the door to the old coal room in my basement, Carl Anderson left his mark with chalk, in beautiful six-inch Palmer Method lettering. The Mah boys left a reminder of the 1965 football season, and someone else liked to garden.

Tax records indicate that the house was constructed in 1920[1], on the back side of the Spanish influenza. The house appears in the 1923 city directory as the home of Harvey E. Fisher and his wife, Martha[2]. Harvey was born in Wisconsin around 1872[3]. Martha was from Utah and was born around 1876[4].Harvey was the vice president of the Inland Coal and Ice Company of Idaho Falls[5]. The house was heated by a coal-fed boiler that pushed hot water up from the basement through six radiators on the main floor. Although the boiler has been converted to a gas system, the six radiators still stand guard against eastern Idaho January. By 1929, Harvey had become the president of the Inland Coal and Ice Company, and he and Martha moved to the next block[6].

That same year, the house appears in the city directory as the residence of Hjalmar Anderson and his wife, Edna[7]. Hjalmar, born in Singö, Stockholm, Sweden February 16, 1886, immigrated to the United States in 1910, finding his way to Idaho Falls through Chicago, Missoula, and Butte, Montana[8]. Edna Johanna Westlund was born in Oravainen, Vaasa, Finland in June 1883[9]; she and Hjalmar were married in Butte in 1914[10]. Hjalmar and Edna moved from Butte to Idaho Falls, where in 1920 they were founding partners in the Idaho Falls Sash and Door Company[11] located just down the street from the house[12].

Carl Ernest Anderson was born on August 11, 1919, the second of Hjalmar and Edna’s three children[13]. The 1936 city directory lists Carl as a student, still residing at the house with his parents[14], likely hanging out in the basement procrastinating over report deadlines much like myself.

Hjalmar retired from the Idaho Falls Sash and Door Company in 1946 to farm, at which time it seems that Carl and his older brother took over the business[15]. By 1959, Carl was living on 17th Street with his wife, Marion, and their three children; Hjalmar and Edna were still living in the house [16].

By 1960, just a few blocks down 17th, my parents were Carl and Marion’s neighbors. Lured from the Wyoming oil fields with potential employment at the National Reactor Testing Station (NRTS), my father landed a job in the escalating Cold War at the Naval Reactors Facility (NRF). I do not know if my parents knew Carl and Marion, but my mother, a professor of the Palmer Method, certainly would have given Carl a run for his money in the penmanship department.

Hjalmar passed away in the house, his home for almost thirty years, in 1960[17]. Edna continued to live in the house until 1961, when she moved to an apartment a few blocks away [18]. The next year, Carl moved his family to one of the new subdivisions in Idaho Falls[19] built in response to housing needs spurred by the development of the NRTS.

The 1962 city directory lists the house as the residence of Phillip and Hazel Mah and their four children[20]. Phillip Lip Gee Mah was born in Guangxi Region, China on September 25, 1917[21]. Hazel Delores Welch was born in Henryetta, Oklahoma on March 2, 1920[22]. Phillip and Hazel were married in Idaho Falls sometime in the mid-1950s, before the Idaho state legislature repealed the 1864 anti-miscegenation law that had made marriage between Chinese and Caucasian individuals illegal[23].

In 1962, Phillip was working as a cook at the Lantern Café on Broadway and Hazel was working as a cook at Ray’s In-&-Out on Yellowstone Highway[24]. By 1970, Phillip and Hazel were the owners of the Liberty Café on Park Avenue in downtown Idaho Falls[25]. Hazel passed away in 1988[26], but Phillip continued living in the house until 2000[27], making it his home for thirty-eight years.

What is now my office may have been a room for Phillip and Hazel’s older sons, judging by the 1965 Idaho Falls High School football schedule still stuck to the door. Skyline High School opened on the west side of Idaho Falls in 1968[28]. The house sits in the Skyline attendance boundary, making it likely that the younger Mah children attended Skyline rather than Idaho Falls high school.

I do not know if Hjalmar, following his farmer’s almanac, or if Phillip and Hazel, spilling their kitchen into the backyard, cultivated the landscape of this small city plot into a feast for body and soul. The remnants of fruit trees, a fat Nanking cherry bush, and an everbearing raspberry patch have been nestled into new garden beds and backyard barbeques. As my family leaves new marks on the house and the landscape, we are mindful of those who have been here before and of the history that continues to be folded into this place.


Archives.com. 2018. 1940 U.S. Census Records: Harvey Fisher. Accessed July 24, 2020. http://www.archives.com/1940-census/harvey-fisher-id-10941543.

—. 2018. 1940 U.S. Census Records: Martha Fisher. Accessed July 24, 2020. https://www.archives.com/1940-census/martha-fisher-id-10941544.

Bonneville County Assessor’s Office. 2020. Bonneville County Parcel Viewer. Accessed July 22, 2020. https://bonneville.esriemcs.com/portal/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=f5f27c3e084449c3b933b019a9b7444b.

Equal Justice Initiative. 2020. A History of Racial Injustice: 01 Mar. Accessed July 26, 2020. https://calendar.eji.org/racial-injustice/mar/1#:~:text=Idaho%20passed%20its%20first%20anti,for%20up%20to%20two%20years.

Family Search. 2020. Carl Ernest Anderson. Accessed July 24, 2020. https://ancestors.familysearch.org/en/LRC5-HSB/carl-ernest-anderson-1919-1991.

—. 2020. Edna Johanna Westlund. Accessed July 26, 2020. https://ancestors.familysearch.org/en/LRC5-7XX/edna-johanna-westlund-1883-1976.

—. 2020. Hjalmar Anderson. Accessed July 26, 2020. https://ancestors.familysearch.org/en/LRC5-HDP/hjalmar-anderson-1886-1960.

Find A Grave. 2020. Find A Grave Memorial: Hazel Delores (Welch) Mah. Accessed July 26, 2020. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/10727941/hazel-delores-mah.

—. 2020. Find A Grave Memorial: Hjalmar Anderson. Accessed July 26, 2020. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/71513554/hjalmar-anderson.

—. 2020. Find A Grave Memorial: Phillip Lip Gee Mah. Accessed July 26, 2020. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/10727940/phillip-lip_gee-mah.

Hale, Jamie. 2014. The Oregonian/OregonLive: Biracial singer Lyndee Mah finds a sense of place in performance memoir ‘E’-Bon, E’-Bon’. March 31. Accessed July 24, 2020. https://www.oregonlive.com/performance/2014/03/biracial_singer_lyndee_mah_fin.html.

Kauffman, Brennen. 2019. Post Register: Fifty years later, Skyline’s first graduates remember the school. September 20. Accessed July 26, 2020. https://www.postregister.com/news/local/fifty-years-later-skylines-first-graduates-remember-the-school/article_9102fe46-5011-5406-bf12-b89c9110a87f.html.

R.L. Polk and Company. 1923. Idaho Falls City Directory 1923-24. Seattle, WA: R.L. Polk and Company.

—. 1926. Idaho Falls City Directory 1926. Seattle, WA: R.L. Polk and Company.

—. 1929. Idaho Falls City Directory 1929-30. Seattle, WA: R.L. Polk and Company.

—. 1936. Idaho Falls City Directory 1936-37. Seattle, WA: R.L. Polk and Company.

—. 1959. Idaho Falls City Directory 1959. Seattle, WA: R.L. Polk and Company.

—. 1962. Idaho Falls City Directory 1962. Seattle, WA: R.L. Polk and Company.

—. 1970. Idaho Falls City Directory 1970. Seattle, WA: R.L. Polk and Company.

—. 2000. Idaho Falls City Directory 2000. Seattle, WA: R.L. Polk and Company.

—. 1961. Idaho Falls City Directory 1961. Seattle, WA: R.L. Polk and Company.


[1] Bonneville County Assessor’s Office 2020.

[2] R.L. Polk and Company 1923.

[3] Archives.com 2018, Harvey Fisher.

[4] Archives.com 2018, Martha Fisher.

[5] R.L. Polk and Company 1923.

[6] R.L. Polk and Company 1929.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 26 July 2020), memorial page for Hjalmar Anderson (16 Feb 1886–27 Mar 1960), Find a Grave Memorial no. 71513554, citing Rose Hill Cemetery, Idaho Falls, Bonneville County, Idaho, USA ; Maintained by Theresa (contributor 47355046); Family Search 2020, Hjalmar Anderson.

[9] Family Search 2020, Edna Johanna Westlund.

[10] Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 26 July 2020), memorial page for Hjalmar Anderson (16 Feb 1886–27 Mar 1960), Find a Grave Memorial no. 71513554, citing Rose Hill Cemetery, Idaho Falls, Bonneville County, Idaho, USA ; Maintained by Theresa (contributor 47355046) .

[11] Ibid.

[12] R.L. Polk and Company 1926.

[13] Family Search 2020, Carl Ernest Anderson.

[14] R.L. Polk and Company 1936.

[15] Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 26 July 2020), memorial page for Hjalmar Anderson (16 Feb 1886–27 Mar 1960), Find a Grave Memorial no. 71513554, citing Rose Hill Cemetery, Idaho Falls, Bonneville County, Idaho, USA ; Maintained by Theresa (contributor 47355046); R.L. Polk and Company 1962.

[16] R.L. Polk and Company 1959.

[17] Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 26 July 2020), memorial page for Hjalmar Anderson (16 Feb 1886–27 Mar 1960), Find a Grave Memorial no. 71513554, citing Rose Hill Cemetery, Idaho Falls, Bonneville County, Idaho, USA ; Maintained by Theresa (contributor 47355046); Family Search 2020, Hjalmar Anderson.

[18] R.L. Polk and Company 1961, 1962.

[19] R.L. Polk and Company 1962.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 27 July 2020), memorial page for Phillip Lip Gee Mah (25 Sep 1917–8 Feb 2002), Find a Grave Memorial no. 10727940, citing Rose Hill Cemetery, Idaho Falls, Bonneville County, Idaho, USA ; Maintained by Collins Crapo (contributor 669).

[22] Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 27 July 2020), memorial page for Hazel Delores Welch Mah (2 Mar 1920–11 Feb 1988), Find a Grave Memorial no. 10727941, citing Rose Hill Cemetery, Idaho Falls, Bonneville County, Idaho, USA ; Maintained by Collins Crapo (contributor 669).

[23] R.L. Polk and Company 1962; Hale 2014; Equal Justice Initiative 2020.

[24] R.L. Polk and Company 1962.

[25] R.L. Polk and Company 1970.

[26] Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 27 July 2020), memorial page for Hazel Delores Welch Mah (2 Mar 1920–11 Feb 1988), Find a Grave Memorial no. 10727941, citing Rose Hill Cemetery, Idaho Falls, Bonneville County, Idaho, USA ; Maintained by Collins Crapo (contributor 669).

[27] R.L. Polk and Company 2000.

[28] Kauffman 2019.


Happy Independence Day

A reminder that All ISHS sites are open by advanced reservations. Please share with friends and family. Be sure to visit UPDATES page on the website for specific information on each site.

This month, I am going to share a few amazing books available for purchase at the M Store in the Idaho State Museum and Souvenir Confinement Store at the Old Idaho Penitentiary.

It is a great time to purchase a book and take time to learn more about Idaho.

Numbered: Inside Idaho’s Prison for Women, 1887-1968

Todd Shallat and Amber Beierle, editors

Anna Webb, Carissa Wolf and Karen Benning, authors

Abuse, morality, and self-destructive behavior drive these stories of Idahoans who deviated from the feminine norm. Numbered revisits a world dumbfounded by troublesome women. Horrifying at times and elsewhere touchingly funny, the book probes gendered roots of American jurisprudence and the double standard by which penitentiary men and women paid unequal wages for crime. Elegantly presented with original portraits and more than 200 remastered historical photos never seen in print.

The newest book on the Old Idaho Penitentiary is now available for purchase!


Big Burn, by Timothy Egan

Also known as “the big blowup,” a 1910 forest fire ravaged 3 million acres in the northwest. Majority of the burn took place in northern Idaho. Egan’s book examines the long-term effects of the fire and the impact the Big Burn had on forest conservation.

Available at the Idaho State Museum M-Store

Micah Hetherington’s top picks from the Idaho State Museum M Store

I really appreciated Pathway of Dreams by David Proctor and Chinatown: Boise, Idaho 1870-1970 by Arthur A. Hart.

Pathway of Dreams, by David Proctor

The Proctor book discusses the history of the greenbelt, which I’ve biked on since I was a kid and never knew the history. It has some interesting tidbits, like how they initially planned on accommodating horses for the greenbelt, and how Garden City’s stretch of the river used to be overrun with abandoned cars and pollution.

Chinatown: Boise, Idaho 1870-1970, by Arthur Hart

Hart’s book details the history of Chinese immigrants in Boise and the legacies they left. Knowing that Boise didn’t really preserve our Chinatown, I appreciate how detailed Hart was in documenting so many people of Chinese ancestry. I also learned that Chinden Boulevard is a contraction of “Chinese gardens” to pay homage to the large stretches of Chinese gardens that once existed in what is now Garden City.

Old Idaho Penitentiary Volunteer Jack Hourcade Review

Old Idaho Penitentiary

by Amber Beierle, Ashley Phillips, and Hanako Wakatsuki

Available at both the Old Idaho Penitentiary Souvenir Confinement Store and Idaho State Museum M-store

Prior to its closing in 1973, the Idaho State Penitentiary served for over a century as a powerful visual reminder for Boiseans of lives gone awry. The powerful and foreboding architecture of the Old Pen, so reminiscent of a medieval fortress, silently announced to all its utter seriousness of purpose.

But even more compelling than the Old Pen’s physical structures are the life stories of the hundreds of women and thousands of men who spent time behind these gray walls. This classic book by the present-day administrator of the Old Pen and two colleagues is unparalleled in its success in outlining both (a) the evolution of the Old Pen’s physical facilities, and (b) what daily life was like for the woman and men who worked and lived there. Extensive historic photographic coverage (much unavailable elsewhere) leaves the reader with a vivid sense of life in a place few ever experience

Volunteer Spotlight

Old Idaho Penitentiary Volunteer-Jack Hourcade


 What is your volunteer role within the Idaho State Historical Society? Please share all if more than one!

I’m a Tour Guide at the Old Idaho Penitentiary.

How long have you been an ISHS volunteer?

I began my training at the Old Pen in February 2019, and began leading tours that spring.

Why do you volunteer with the ISHS?

I moved to Boise about 30 years ago, and the Old Idaho Penitentiary quickly became a favorite “hidden corner of Boise” for me. Initially my interest in the site was primarily due to the architecture.

However, as I visited over and over, I began to find myself more and more intrigued by the incredible human-interest stories of the women and men who spent time there.

When I retired from my career as a professor at Boise State University a few years ago, I began looking for things to do. My role as a Tour Guide at the Old Idaho Penitentiary allows me to do my favorite part of my old work (sharing incredible stories with others) while avoiding the worst aspects of that previous work (no more tests!).

Tell us about your favorite part as a volunteer?

By far my favorite part of being a Tour Guide is seeing the reaction of our visitors as I share the stories of the people who spent time there. I love the sense they develop over 90 minutes of the actual lives that were lived out there within those four walls.

What is something you have learned while volunteering?

In researching and learning about the men and women who did time there, maybe the one thing that I’ve come to appreciate more is the incredible complexity of human lives, and how life circumstances can result in people doing things that are seemingly impossible to understand.

What would you say to a prospective volunteer?

I can’t imagine a more fun way to spend an afternoon than to be involved in the Idaho State Historical Society, immersed in the extraordinary stories that cumulatively make up Idaho’s history.

We would like to gather quotes from the volunteers, please share a quote with us about your role as a ISHS volunteer?

“Visiting the Old Idaho Penitentiary today is a LOT more pleasant than it was half a century ago!”


Importance of Volunteers

So Long, Volunteers  by Erma Bombeck

I had a dream the other night that every volunteer in this land had set sail for another country. I stood smiling on the pier, shouting, “Good-bye, phone committees.  “Good-bye disease-of-the month. No more getting out the vote. No more playground duty, bake sales, rummage sales, thrift shops, and three-hour meetings.”

As the boat got smaller, I reflected; “serves them right, that bunch of yes people. All they had to do was to put their tongues firmly against the roofs of their mouths and make an “O” sound–no. It would certainly have spared them a lot of grief. Oh, well, who needs them?” The hospital was quiet as I passed it. The reception desk was vacant. Rooms were devoid of books, flowers, and voices. The children’s wing held no clowns, no laughter. The home for the aged was like a tomb ‘The blind listened for a voice that never came. The infirm were imprisoned in wheelchairs that never moved. Food grew cold on trays that would never reach the hungry. The social agencies had closed their doors–unable to implement their programs of scouting, recreation, drug control; unable to help the retarded, handicapped, lonely and abandoned. Health agencies had signs in their windows: “Cures for cancer, birth defects, multiple sclerosis, heart diseases, etc., have been canceled because of lack of interest.”

The schools were strangely quiet, with no field trips and no volunteer classroom aides. Symphony halls and the museums that had been built and stocked by volunteers were dark and would remain that way. The flowers in churches and synagogues withered and died. Children in day nurseries lifted their arms, but there was no one to hold them in love.

Alcoholics cried out in despair, but no one answered. the poor had no recourse for health care or legal aid. I fought in my sleep to regain a glimpse of the ship of volunteers just one more time. It was to be my last glimpse of a decent civilization.

Each month we will feature a Volunteer Spotlight of the valuable Volunteers at ISHS.


Volunteer Spotlight: Donna Engelbert– Volunteer at Idaho State Museum

Meet Donna!

“As a volunteer you form new friendships, meet people from many walks of life and most importantly feel connected to the community of Idaho and its’ rich history.” Donna

Folks might recognize Donna if they’ve ever taken part in a school field trip to the museum or visited while one took place.

Since October of 2018, Donna has volunteered as an Education Guide and an Ambassador for special events and membership recruitment. She particularly aids our Education team by facilitating students’ tours through the museum.

As a retired educator, Donna appreciates how the museum parallels and differs from the traditional classroom setting. Her reason for volunteering is straightforward- it allows her to interact with visitors and learn more about Idaho history. Since she started, Donna particularly feels informed on the overarching subject our museum teaches- how the land shapes the people and the people shape the land.

“To a prospective volunteer I would say come join us. There is a need for volunteers in many different capacities.” Donna

We’re so grateful to have such wonderful volunteers like Donna at the Historical Society, as they help us promote and preserve Idaho history.

As we begin to re-open to the public, we are cautious in bringing volunteer back too quickly! Each site has made changes to ensure both the public, staff and volunteer are safe. There is limited admittance with online ticketing, no acceptance of cash only debt, credit or gift certificates, request for all to wear face covering, some exhibits removed or limited to viewing only. Each site will be in contact with volunteers to review the role volunteers will take in this new protocol. We value ISHS volunteers and want to be sure that all are safe as they interact with public. For specific questions, please contact the staff volunteer coordinator for each site.

You can find updates, activities, resources, and collections throughout the website. The ISHS staff has been working hard to transform the historical experience into virtual experiences. Browse the amazing resources of Idaho History.

“Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation’s compassion, unselfish caring, patience, and just plain loving one another.” – Erma Bombeck


April Showers bring May Flowers!

May is a time fresh newness. We are experiencing a lot of new during this time.

Idaho State Historical Volunteers are our flowers. They are each unique, hold a special quality, stay for many years or a short time. Some are in the front row and others are in the back, but all are making Idaho State Historical Society essential to the State of Idaho and its citizens.

ISHS staff continue to create wonderful digital resources on the ISHS website: idahoathome page. Be sure to review it yourself and then share it with friends and family members. In addition, take time to review all the ISHS sites Facebook pages.

We look forward to when we can all be together again.


The following blog is provided by an ISHS volunteer, Jacelyn Brandt. If anyone is interested in submitting a Volunteer blog, I am  happy to accept it.


Continue exploring history even if you’re stuck at home

Why do we do what we do? History is such an important part of who we are and who we will become. According to Peter N. Stearns with the American Historical Association https://www.historians.org/about-aha-and-membership/aha-history-and-archives/historical-archives/why-study-history-(1998), history makes us who we are as a society. There are a number important reasons to remember where we came from:

History helps us understand both individuals and societies
History helps us understand how our society got to where it is today
History helps us understand our own lives
History helps us understand our moral fabric, both as a society and individuals
History provides an identity for us as individuals
History provides an identity for us as citizens
History helps us become better students
History creates better leaders


Even though we are not able to volunteer right now, many of us are here because we love history. There are still some amazing ways to explore Idaho history or history around the world.

The Idaho State Museum – Smithsonian Learning Lab

The Idaho State Museum Smithsonian Learning Lab is a great way to keep up to date with Idaho history. Although it’s meant mostly for K-12 students, it gives you a refresh on topics like Lewis and Clark, Minidoka War Relocation Camps, the Nez Perce War, the Civilian Conservation Corps in Idaho, and Women’s Suffrage in Idaho. You can also analyze a number of artifacts from Idaho’s past.


The British Museum in London

The British Museum is offering virtual tours. Their exhibits include the Rosetta Stone and plenty of Egyptian mummies. Like the Idaho State Museum website, you can also explore a number of the museum’s artifacts.


Pergamon Museum, Berlin

Take a virtual tour of the Pergamom Museum in Berlin and explore their artifacts, which include the Ishtar Gate of Babylon and the Pergamon Altar.


Uffizi Gallery, Florence

The Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy is a mix of both art and history in the heart of Tuscany. The gallery includes exhibits of ancient sculpture, artwork, and artifacts. Some of the sculptures housed at Uffizi include the Arrotino, the Two Wrestlers, and the Bust of Severus Alexander.


National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City

The National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City was built in 1964, and is one of the museums offering a virtual walk-through tour. The museum has 23 exhbiti rooms, which include ancient artifacts from the Mayan civilization and other points in Mexican history.



Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City


Although the Met in New York City is called an art museum, it holds more than 5,000 years of history within its walls. Their current exhibitions include art and artifacts from the Saharas, Egypt, Native America, Kyoto, the Caribbean, China, and more.



There are a number of other museum walk tours offered by Google Arts & Culture. You can find them here: https://artsandculture.google.com/explore?hl=en




We celebrate the ISHS volunteers every month; however, this month is extra special bringing forth how much ISHS volunteers help to promote and preserve Idaho History. There is such diversity in all the volunteer roles. Volunteers who are working directly with the public, working on photo digitization, cataloging collections, judging youth history projects, giving tours at the Capitol, sharing ISHS with the public at special events, and so much more. Why do volunteers choose the Idaho State Historical Society? It is an opportunity to engage with interesting people, tell stories and hear stories from others, learn more about Idaho history, serve their community, help others find their ancestors, and participate in new opportunities that they might have never thought to do!

The entire ISHS staff is sending out a heartfelt “thank you” to all the amazing ISHS volunteers. We miss you and look forward to celebrating this fall. Stay safe and healthy.

Coronavirus Update

The situation with the COVID-19 pandemic is evolving at a rapid pace. We do not yet know the full extent of the impacts. We encourage everyone to follow the guidance of Governor Little, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, and the CDC. Some of the most important actions we can take to keep ourselves, our families, and the people we serve safe include practicing good personal hygiene, especially hand washing. ISHS staff are telecommuting, with only 2-3 people on location at a time, following social distancing and hand washing protocols.

It’s that spirit that makes us human. It’s that spirit that will keep us connected and thriving even during the worst of times. And, that desire to help no matter the odds truly matters. While Coronavirus dominates much of our newsfeed right now, I want all of you take a moment and reflect on your time as an ISHS volunteer and what you miss and what you look forward to upon your return. Is it the question from a patron that made you think, or maybe the obstacle of finding just the right look of the photograph?

What you can do in order to be of service right now is to be proactive in the support of this public health crisis by actively committing to behaviors that spread kindness, compassion, empathy and joy to family, friends and neighbors.

Not sure what do while you are at home!

The Old Idaho Penitentiary started a podcast last year and it has taken off. There have been over 17,921 plays of the Podcast. Named after a biography written by inmate Patrick Charles Murphy, Behind Gray Walls is a podcast from the Old Idaho Penitentiary that will bring humanity to the stories you may have heard while visiting the site. The podcast will also feature fascinating previously untold stories of Idaho inmates. It is researched, written, produced, and hosted by Anthony and Skye. For more information on the podcast, the Old Idaho Penitentiary, and the Idaho State Historical Society, visit history.idaho.gov. or go to the recent podcast to get a taste of what they offer. https://soundcloud.com/behindgraywalls/ep-21-phillips-and-hastings/s-iTYQv2uoMks