Welcome!  Hit the play button below for an overview video of the Museum…

The South Whidbey Historical Society collects, preserves and presents information, stories and artifacts of our history, weaving together the diverse experiences of our people as context for today’s decision makers and inspiration for tomorrow’s leaders.

We accomplish this mission by maintaining a Museum in Langley to house our collections and through our displays at the Island County Fairgrounds. In addition, the Society sponsors regular “Then and Now” evening presentations that focus on South Whidbey Island history and maintains our “Virtual Museum” which contains digital images of our collections.

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Though Our Museum Is Closed Due to the Pandemic, We Are Staying Quite Active

Our mission is to record and tell the history of South Whidbey and we are committed to this task. The South Whidbey Historical Society is busy even though we cannot open the museum or make community presentations due to the pandemic. 

Many things go on as normal. We have been adding to our collection with photographs, documents, and artifacts. These all must be recorded with accession records and a means to make them available to use. This process is carried out by archivists diligently going through the collection.

The Society is providing 501(c)(3) nonprofit donation pass-through status for a major project begun by Kyle Walker (See next section about the project below.)

Digitizing work on the old Island County Fair Scrapbooks continues thanks to the support of Board Member Charlie Pancerzewski and his wife, Gayle, a descendant of the pioneer Bainter, Cattron and Wainio families. These will be linked to our website, currently undergoing a redesign.

When you become a member or renew your membership to SWHS, expect to receive more newsletters with untold stories about our island. Our goal is to publish four more newsletters between now and next summer. If you or your business would like to sponsor one of these newsletters, contact us via email or phone.

On social media, follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SouthWhidbeyHistory.  More than 3,035 people currently follow our South Whidbey Historical Society posts.

Bill Haroldson, SWHS Board President

Your Support Matters
We are always grateful for financial donations. And now, your donations will help us meet a $5k challenge operating grant provided by local philanthropist Nancy Nordhoff.  Simply click on the donation page to donate safely via PayPal, or mail a check to SWHS / PO Box 612 / Langley, WA 98260.

Donating Local Historical Items
We love receiving items of local historical interest! If you have items to donate, our curator would love to hear from you. We’ll find a convenient and safe manner to pick them up or meet you. 

Join Our Legacy Circle
When you remember the South Whidbey Historical Society in your will or estate plan, you help keep your community Historical Society and Museum serving our community.

Become Involved
Finally, we are seeking additional volunteers who may become Board members, and future docents for when our community opens up again –– a time we all look forward to. Email us at SWHMuseum@gmail.com or you can telephone the museum at (360) 221-2101. We likely won’t be there but please leave us a message and we will return your telephone call or email.

An exciting new project that you can be a part of…

“A Tangled Web of History”

A collection of over 500 artifacts, once kept in the home of a South Whidbey pioneer family, has now been revealed. These artifacts represent a remarkable outline of an unknown chapter of Washington State and Pacific Northwest history.

Project Manager Kyle Walker

South Whidbey Historical Society President, Bill Haroldson states: “Rarely do we find an intact set of cultural artifacts that provides historians the opportunity to unearth the human story behind the broader historical record.” Haroldson adds, “Project Manager Kyle Walker has been welcomed by family descendants and residents of Whidbey Island during initial research efforts this past summer, resulting in astonishing stories and identification of other artifacts.”

The collection tells the story of a wayward Portuguese whaler, Joseph Brown, who married a “high-born” member of the Coast Salish Snohomish Tribe, Mary Shelton.  Their story illustrates how a major tribal village on south Whidbey Island became an epicenter of maritime trade in the Puget Sound, a destination of Euro-American settlers and summer homes of notable families. 

The artifacts speak to their children’s involvement in the investigation of white slavery trafficking and the illegal sale of opium and alcohol to Indians throughout the Pacific Northwest.  Societal challenges of raising bi-racial families and the emerging role and rights of women are also featured. “Set against the backdrop of the Progressive Era from the 1880s to World War I, the parallels to the social condition of today are remarkable,” states Walker.

The project team is eager to involve other organizations, Whidbey community residents and descendants in the greater Island, Snohomish and Jefferson counties who can assist with research and tell these stories.  Grant funding is being pursued and a grassroots fundraising campaign is underway to launch formal research efforts. 

Representatives from academia, historic organizations and government agencies at the local/state/federal level will help guide the research. Field surveys will use the collection to document and map the cultural landscape of Snohomish and Euro-American sites on South Whidbey. 

According to Walker: “Contributors to the project can expect a variety of tangible results including interpretive displays and signage, interactive tableau mapping, publications, videos, educational presentations, collection preservation with online access and research podcasts.”

A video highlighting the collection and opportunity to make a tax-deductible contribution can be found at the link below.  The Project Team invites you to join them on a journey of remarkable courage, heartbreaking loss, and longing for healing of the moral condition. 

https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/a-tangled-web-of-history

Kyle K. Walker – Project Manager (pictured)
Bill Haroldson – President, South Whidbey Historical Society
Robert Waterman – Vice President, South Whidbey Historical Society
Rick Castellano – Executive Director, Island County Historical Museum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Brief History of Our South End Communities…

(Click on the town name to open the page.)