Readings Nov. 8 in Seattle, Nov. 13 at Auntie’s in Spokane
SPOKANE, Wash. – Patricia O’Connell Killen, academic vice president at Gonzaga University, and Roberta Stringham Brown, professor of French at Pacific Lutheran University, will discuss their new book about early Northwest Bishop A.M.A. Blanchet at 7 p.m., Friday, Nov. 8 at University Book Store in Seattle (4326 University Way N.E.). On Wednesday, Nov. 13, Auntie’s Bookstore in Spokane (402 W. Main St.) will host a reading at 7 p.m.
Brown and Killen co-edited “Selected Letters of A.M.A. Blanchet, Bishop of Walla Walla & Nesqualy (1846-1879),” released this year by University of Washington Press. This selection of 45 letters by the first Catholic Bishop of today’s Washington state provides a view of early Washington history through the eyes of an intelligent, devout, energetic, perceptive, and occasionally irascible cleric and administrator.
In 1846, French Canadian-born A.M.A. Blanchet was named the first Catholic bishop of Walla Walla in the area soon to become Washington Territory. He arrived at Fort Walla Walla in late September 1847, part of the largest movement over the Oregon Trail to date. The Northwest underwent profound social and political change during Blanchet’s 32 years in the region as the Hudson’s Bay Company moved headquarters and many operations north following the Oregon Treaty, U.S. government and institutions were established, and Native American inhabitants dealt with displacement and discrimination. Blanchet chronicled both his own pastoral and administrative life and his observations on the world around him in a voluminous correspondence – almost 900 letters – to religious superiors and colleagues in Montreal, Paris, and Rome; funding organizations; other missionaries; and U.S. officials.
Nearly all of Blanchet’s correspondence was in French. After translating it, Brown and Killen chose 45 of those letters to annotate and introduce, creating a history of early Washington that provides new insights into relationships, events, and personalities. A number of the letters provide firsthand glimpses of familiar events, such as the Whitman tragedy, the California gold rush, Indian wars and land displacement, transportation advances, and the domestic material culture of a frontier borderland. Others voice the hardships of historically underrepresented groups, including Native Americans, Metis, and French Canadians, and the experiences of ordinary people in growing population centers such as Seattle, Walla Walla, and Vancouver, Washington. Still others describe the struggle to bring social, medical, and educational institutions to the region, a struggle in which women religious workers played a key role. The letters and the editors’ annotations provide an engaging and insightful look at an important period in the history of the Pacific Northwest and southwest Canada.
For more information, please contact Natasha Varner, publicity manager for University of Washington Press, at (206) 221-4994 or via email.