Saturday, May 19, 2007


© Idaho Yesterdays, Used with permission of the editor.
When I was in the fourth grade I picked up a copy of Idaho Yesterdays, the state historical journal, for the first time. One of the first articles I read was a piece on Senator William Borah. At the time one of the few things I knew about Borah was that Senator Frank Church liked him well enough to have a portrait of Borah hanging in his congressional office. That portrait of Borah is now hanging in the Church reading room in the Department of Special Collections at the Albertson Library on the campus of Boise State University and my knowledge of Senator Borah is no longer restricted to the connection between Senator Church and that portrait.

Over the years I have read with great interest and excitement every edition of Idaho Yesterdays in print. By every edition I mean every edition in print since the journal was first published in 1957. I have spoken here on numerous occasions about political heartbreak, but I've not often mentioned the historian's equivalent. When Idaho Yesterdays ceased to be, or at least stopped being published for a time, I was heartbroken. I had read IY for years and it's disappearance from my reading list certainly was not met with acceptance. I was beginning my senior year of high school when the journal stopped being published due to state budget cuts. My senior year of high school was awful in many respects, the disappearance of IY included. To my surprise the journal returned and at the time I had finally made my way to Idaho State University after a rather eventful trek to Kent State University in Ohio. Looking back I can't help but wonder if part of the reason I am majoring in history at ISU now isn't at least due in part to the return of IY.

This past week I was given my own copy of the latest edition of the journal (photo above) and I must say that they just keep getting better and better! The last edition, centered around Idaho politics and communism in the state, was brilliant. By far my favorite edition ever published. However, with each glance at the latest edition I am forced to reconsider which edition is my favorite. The current edition centers around exchanges in Idaho ranging from the dietary obstacles of the Lewis & Clark expedition to the near mythical status associated with Donald McKenzie.

Last summer I had the wonderful opportunity to work as a student intern for IY and in doing so I had hands-on experience with the editorial and publication process. This is the first edition of IY that I have been able to watch from the beginning to publication which has given me quite the perspective. From this new found perspective I awaited the published edition with a few reservations. I admit to being skeptical about the musical addition, an idea to the credit of IY's editor, and it turned out to be brilliant. The musical addition is a CD in the back of the issue and on the CD are three tracks from Bona Fide and Friends, an Idaho trio. Absolutely brilliant.

If you have never before read Idaho Yesterdays, now would be a fine time to start. I cannot speak highly enough of this publication and of the people behind it.

Also, if you are interested in reading past editions of the state history journal the following institutions would be good places to start: Boise State University's Albertson Library has hard copies of every edition printed from 1957 to present located in both Special Collections and the McCain Reading Room, Idaho State University has an incomplete series located in Special Collections as well as a complete series housed on the third floor of the Eli M. Oboler Library in the Idaho Documents section (maybe I'll see you there), the Idaho State Historical Society has copies in the Idaho History Center located off of Old Penitentiary Road, the N.L. Terteling Library at Albertson College has a complete set, Lewis and Clark State College in Lewiston has a near-complete set in their library (with exception to the latest editions since the journal was reestablished, periodicals are shelved alphabetically in this library on the second floor), the Marshall Public Library in Pocatello has a few early editions that can be located by a librarian named Gene, and I am told, though I have not seen them with my own eyes, that the University of Idaho has a complete set as well. Can you see I am trying to get you all out looking for this superb publication? If all else fails, I have a nearly complete set at my house and I'd be more than happy to share.

In every edition of Idaho Yesterdays there is something for everyone. From fourth grade Idaho history teachers to twenty-something aspiring historians like me.

Every now and again in the Stallings Congressional Collection I run across letters written to Stallings by young Idaho students seeking information for their fourth grade Idaho history classes and I can't help but think back to the first edition of Idaho Yesterdays that I read as a fourth grader who had received the copy from my own congressman, unfortunately not Stallings, after inquiring about Idaho history materials. Don't wait to be introduced to Idaho Yesterdays by your congressman, start reading today.


Jared said...

Speaking of socialism and portraits hanging in Congressional offices, I watched an interview online at MSNBC's website the other day with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VE) and he hangs a portrait of early 20th century presidential candidate and prominant socialist Eugene Debbs in his office.

Tara A. Rowe said...


Have you read the book "1912" by James Chace? It's a wonderful book and I think you would like it. The Debs, Roosevelt, Taft, and Wilson race fascinates me. Over the years I've become quite fond of W.H. Taft.

I have a hard time remembering that Bernie is a senator strange. That's awesome that he has a picture of Debs in his office. I think if I ever had a congressional office (never going to) I would have a really hard time picking one single person to have a portrait of. In my house I have large pictures of the Kennedys, Eisenhower, Stevenson, Frank Church, and Lincoln. At my desk at work I have a large portrait of Stallings. I'm just not decisive enough to have a congressional office I suppose.

Julie in Boise said...

I love that cover ... lookas like the Hunters Inn Motel/Cambridge House in Cambridge. Bee-yoo-tiful.

Tara A. Rowe said...

It is Hunters Inn--you're good!