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Week 24: Photo of Mr. Mathews with students

Who are the people in this photograph?

When was it taken?

Do you recognize any of these artifacts?

Mr Matthews with students

(Click here for larger image)


Who are the people in this photograph? When was it taken?

This is a photograph of the Karshner Museum's first curator, William Matthews, giving a talk to students about the collections. It was taken in the early 1940s, when the museum occupied a room on the third floor of Puyallup High School. Mr Matthews was a history teacher at PHS before he was curator. He worked closely with Dr. Karshner to organize and display the collections.

Wait, that's the Karshner Museum? Why did it move?

Great question! In 1924 Ella and Warner Karshner's son Paul was a senior at Puyallup High School when he died of polio. In the next few years several more people in Ella's family died, and so in 1930 the Karshners decided world travel would help them process their grief. When they visited London, they noticed the museums there were always being visited by schools, and they realized the perfect memorial for Paul would be to start a museum for schools in his name back home. Warner was already an avid collector of Native American artifacts, and these became the founding donations to the museum. In 1930 the collections fit in a few cases in a hallway at Puyallup High School, on the first floor across from the principal's office. By 1934 the collections had grown enough to be given their own room on the third floor. They continued to grow until 1964, when it was decided that the museum would be given its own permanent home in the old Stewart Elementary building, where it lives today. Nowadays about a quarter of the collections are from the Karshners, and the rest are donations from other lovers of history, science, and culture. Do you recognize the stuffed bear's head on the back wall? It's hanging in the Pioneer Room at Karshner Museum today!