State History
Learn about the history of Washington and find fun and interesting things to do and see all across Washington. We've also found the best books, guides, websites, and other resources to make your study of Washington fun and educational.
Things to See & Do in Washington
Whitman Mission National Historic Site
This site commemorates the courage of Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, the role the Whitmans played in establishing the Oregon Trail, and the challenges encountered when two different cultures meet. In 1836, before the wagon trains, a small intrepid group of Presbyterian missionaries traveled with the annual fur trapper’s caravan into “Oregon Country.” Missionaries Narcissa Whitman and Eliza Spalding became the first white women to travel across the continent. Differences in culture led to growing tensions between the Cayuse people and the Whitmans. Their mission became an important stop along the Oregon Trail, but passing immigrants added to the tension. A measles outbreak in 1847 killed half the local Cayuse. Some of the Cayuse blamed these deaths on Dr. Whitman. Dr. and Mrs. Whitman were killed; sixty people were taken hostage. The deaths of the Whitmans sent a shock wave across the country and prompted Congress to make Oregon a U.S. territory. Whitman Mission is located in SE Washington, 7 miles west of Walla Walla.
San Juan Island National Historical Park
Orca whales and bald eagles abound here, as do more than 200 species of birds navigating the Pacific flyway. But the park was created in 1966 based upon an idea: that individuals and nations can solve their problems peacefully without resorting to violence. For it was here in 1859 that the United States and Great Britain nearly went to war over a pig shot by an American farmer. Actually, it was a bit more complicated than that. Pressures had been building between the two nations over possession of the San Juan Island group since 1846 when the Treaty of Oregon left ownership unclear. Thus came the "Pig War" crisis, at the height of which more than 500 U.S. Army soldiers and three British warships were nose to nose on the island's southern shore, not 10 miles from Victoria, BC. Fortunately, officials on both sides quickly restored calm and the nations agreed to a joint military occupation of the island until the boundary could be decided. The American soldiers and British Royal Marines remained for 12 years until Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany, as arbitrator, awarded the islands to the United States. Today the park is an excellent place to hike, picnic, play on the beach, experience wildlife and enjoy a wealth of programming, including the summer living history events.
Fort Vancouver National Historic Site
When American immigrants arrived in the Oregon Country during the 1830s and 1840s, Fort Vancouver provided them with essential supplies to begin their new settlements. In 1996, the 366-acre Vancouver National Historic Reserve was established to protect adjacent, historically significant historical areas. It includes Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, as well as Vancouver Barracks, Officers' Row, Pearson Field, The Water Resources Education Center, and portions of the Columbia River waterfront.
Nez Perce National Historical Park
The 38 sites of Nez Perce National Historical Park are scattered across the states of Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Montana and have been designated to commemorate the stories and history of the Nimiipuu and their interaction with explorers, fur traders, missionaries, soldiers, settlers, gold miners, and farmers who moved through or into the area.
Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve
Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve provides a vivid historical record of Pacific Northwest history, including the first exploration of Puget Sound by Captain George Vancouver in 1792; early settlement by Colonel Isaac Ebey, an important figure in Washington Territory; growth and settlement resulting from the Oregon Trail and the Westward migration; the Donation Land Laws (1850-1855); and the continued growth and settlement of the town of Coupeville. There are two state parks within Ebey's Landing NHR as well as the historic waterfront town of Coupeville, one of the oldest towns in Washington State.
Klondike Gold Rush - Seattle Unit National Historical Park
In 1897 news of a gold strike in the Canadian Yukon reached Seattle, triggering a stampede North to the Klondike Gold Fields. From 1897 to 1898, tens of thousands of people from across the United States and around the world descended upon Seattle's commercial district. While in Seattle, the hopeful miners purchased millions of dollars of food, clothing, equipment, pack animals, and steamship tickets. The final outcome of this great stampede helped shape the Seattle we know today, bolstering the city's reputation as the Queen City of the Pacific Northwest.
Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail
In 1804, Meriwether Lewis & William Clark began a voyage of discovery with 45 men, a keelboat, two pirogues,and a dog. They departed from Camp Wood located in what was to become Illinois. They traveled over a three-year period through lands that later became 11 states. Most of the trail follows the Missouri & Columbia Rivers. Much has changed in 200 years but trail portions remain intact. At 3700 miles, Lewis & Clark NHT is the second longest of the 23 National Scenic & National Historic Trails. It begins at Hartford, IL & passes through portions of MO, KS, IA, NE, SD, ND, MT, ID, OR, & WA. Many people follow the trail by auto; others find adventure in the sections that encourage boating, biking, or hiking. You can still see the White Cliffs in Montana as Lewis & Clark did. You may stand where they stood looking over the rolling plains at Spirit Mound in South Dakota. You might meet the descendants of the people who hosted Lewis & Clark all along the trail. It remains for your discovery.
Teaching Tips & Ideas
How I Teach a Large Family in a Relaxed, Classical Way: History
A look at teaching history across several grades using the classical method of education and a rotation of history every four years.
Knowledge Quest
Knowledge Quest offers historical outline maps and timelines designed for the interactive study of world history and geography.
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Featured Resources

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Handbook of Nature Study
A matchless handbook for decades, this classic work has been the natural history bible for countless teachers and others who seek information about their environment. Written originally for those elementary school teachers who knew little of common plants and animals, and even less about the earth beneath their feet and the skies overhead, this book is for the most part as valid and helpful today as it was when first written in 1911―and revised in the spirit of its authors by a group of naturali...
The Well-Ordered Home: Organizing Techniques for Inviting Serenity into Your Life
Organizing the home is one of those desirable and beneficial activities that remain elusive for many. This practical guide explains the many benefits - physical, emotional, and spiritual - of an organized home and shows how to attain them. Breaking down the process into 50 steps, the author uses her own experiences as a psychologist and professional home organizer to help readers clear away not only the physical clutter but the psychological blocks that encourage it and hinder organization. She ...
The Homeschooling Revolution
A readable, scholarly overview of the modern day homeschooling movement. Includes vignettes from homeschooling families, war stories, research information, media reaction, footnotes, and statistics.
Montessori Life
Designed to provoke thought, professional growth and provide a forum for discussion of major issues & ideas in education.
Flip Over Math Manipulatives
Grades 1-5. Tub of over 500 manipulatives includes Pattern Blocks, Connecting People, Cuisenaire Rods, Coins, and Bean Counters and can be used with the Flip Over Math Books. This 49 page book (others sold separately) is written to NCTM Standards and provide hands on activities from basic math skills to advanced problem solving.