If you have an interest in the history of Spokane or ancestors from that area, we’re happy to announce the digitization of The Spokesman-Review 1968-2019; and other related newspapers including The Semi-Weekly Spokesman-Review 1883-1981; the Spokane Chronicle 1890-1992; the Spokane Daily Chronicle 1890; the Spokane Evening Review 1884-1885; the Spokane Falls Review 1885-1891; The Spokane Review 1891-1894 and the Spokane Weekly Chronicle 1944. The Spokesman-Review was named one of the 25 best newspapers in the country by the Columbia Journalism Review magazine in 1999!
Our archives date back to 1883 when Washington was still a territory and just two years after the railroad came to town bringing new settlers and growth to the area. Around that time the discovery of gold in Coeur d’Alene brought growth to Spokane (then called Spokane Falls) because the city acted as a service center for the nearby mines.
In 1889, a terrific fire engulfed the city. To prevent the spread of flames, officials blew up a row of buildings to prevent the fire from spreading. As the flames approached Cannon’s Bank at Wall and Riverside, a horse-drawn cab loaded the bank’s wealth into a carriage and drove it to safety. When the smoke finally cleared, the fire destroyed 30 downtown blocks and burned many businesses, homes, and several newspaper presses.
During WWII, the Spokane Army Air Depot (later known as Fairchild Air Force Base) opened to provide repairs for damaged aircraft. The depot attracted skilled workers and provided job opportunities for civilian workers. In 1945, the war hit close to home when the Japanese launched balloon bombs that landed near Spokane. News of the incendiary devices brought public concern. The newspapers tried to keep reports about the balloon bombs under wraps to bolster national security. The Semi-Weekly Spokesman-Review encouraged readers to refrain from spreading the news about balloon incidents.
Our archives contain great stories to help you piece together your family tree. For example, this 1909 story in the Spokane Chronicle tells the story of a father reuniting with his son after 47 years! The two became separated during the Civil War and had no way of contacting one another. One day, the son met a man who shared his last name and soon discovered it was his uncle. He was delighted to learn that his father was 79-years-old and living in Nebraska. Later, the two were joyfully reunited.
Do you have ancestors that filed a homestead claim in Spokane? The lure of homesteading, and the ability to travel on railroads and steamships brought more settlers to the Pacific Northwest. Newspapers reported homestead applications at the land office like this one in The Spokane Review in 1891. When searching for your family, search through the newspaper birth announcements, wedding announcements, anniversary notices, and obituaries.