Oral History Project

We are introducing an exciting new program in 2012 that will allow you to hear Lopez Island’s unique stories, told by folks who grew up on the island in the early 20th century—island history from people who were there.

Willie Cousins was quite a storyteller. Imagine sitting with Willie, hearing him recall his life on Lopez—how the earliest Lopezians came to the island, how people lived, and intimate details about his favorite characters.

With your support, we’ll have digital recordings available this summer. You’ll listen to Willie, along with other descendants of Lopez Island’s earliest settlers: Gallanger, Davies, McCauley, Higgins, Norman, Coffelt, Weeks, Spencer, Hastin, and more than 30 others.

Helen Hastin with her sons, Phil and Bud. Both Helen and Phil recorded oral histories for LIHS.

Helen Hastin with her sons, Phil and Bud.
Both Helen and Phil recorded oral histories for LIHS.

In addition to giving you much greater access to Lopez Island’s unique stories, the project will also ensure these irreplaceable treasures will be preserved and accessible for many generations.

We need your help to evaluate, digitize and archive more than 120 oral history tapes. Please consider sending a tax-deductible gift to LIHS to support this important program.


  • Gertrude Boede
  • Esther Borg
  • Al Coffelt
  • Lawrence Coffelt
  • Howard Cole
  • Willie Cousins
  • Rowland Davies
  • Nora Fagerholm
  • Jeff Fulton (Sperry grandson)
  • Frank Gallanger
  • Robert Gallanger
  • Peter & Irma Gourley
  • Eva Hall (Weeks family)
  • Helen Hastin
  • Phil Hastin
  • Una Hayner
  • Frank & Lucille Henderson
  • Eva Higgins
  • Wilma Hill
  • Dorthalee Horne & Helen Lewis
  • B.C. Kilpatrick
  • Alys (Wood ) Lucci
  • Bill McCauley
  • Violet Norman
  • Romayne Ritchie
  • Anne Roberts
  • Ray Spencer & others
  • Roy Spencer
  • Bill Tralnes
  • Beryl Troxell Mason
  • Harvey Troxell
  • Elvie Van De Putte
  • Elmer Vogt
  • Duane Weeks
  • Ellis Weeks
  • Lincoln Weeks

Signature Quilt Project

Update: the quilt is finished! Stop by the museum to see this beautiful quilt, which features nearly 600 signatures.

Three Lopez Island quilters, Laurie Latta, Anne Dawson and Karen Alexander, decided this spring it was time to create a very special Lopez Island Signature Quilt. They presented the idea to the Lopez Historical Society, and with the LIHS board’s enthusiastic approval, the project was launched at the Big Event in July.

This project seeks to collect signatures and the “Lopez Story” of everyone who thinks of Lopez as “home.” Whether you are a fulltime, part time or summer resident, or have family ties to the island, the Historical Society wants to know your “Lopez Story.” How did you discover Lopez? What makes the Island meaningful to you? Why do you call Lopez home?

The trio is now in the process of collecting stories and signatures throughout the entire Lopez Island community and they want yours!

The Lopez Island 2010 Signature Quilt and all stories turned in will become a permanent part of the Lopez Island Historical Society’s archives to give future generations a peek at who was here at the beginning of the 21st century and what brought each of us to Lopez Island.

You can download the signature form below, or stop by the Museum and pick one up. Contact Anne Dawson at The Quilters Studio (360-468-4677) if you have specific questions. You may arrange with Karen Alexander if you would like a brief talk given to your group about the project.

Karen Alexander is still collecting family stories to add to the museum’s archives. Please contact her at the museum. She is also available if you would like a brief talk given to your group about the project.

The completed Lopez Island Signature Quilt

The completed Lopez Island Signature Quilt

The “Sally J”

The restoration of the historic gillnetter Sally J began in 2011.

The Sally J is getting a fresh coat of paint. This beautiful boat seems to invite former, and current, fishers to share stories of their experiences on the water. The Sally J was built for Bastion Jevick, who fished off Iceberg Point. In addition to the good news about the Sally J, a group of southend neighbors recently pooled their resources to restore Jevick’s fishing cabin. It’s encouraging to see the community’s commitment to preserving the island’s heritage.

Exhibits & Collections Project

The one constant characteristic of history is that things change. We work hard to collect and catalog important items that chronicle Lopez Island history. We make them available to you as exhibits and programs, archives, family records and photos. We help researchers discover long-lost family, and new islanders learn about their new home and neighbors.

We need your help to meet a critical challenge. We have run out of storage and work space. We continue to receive photos, artifacts, and other memorabilia from settler family descendants – items that are irreplaceable, and invaluable in recording our history. We are doing our best to catalog and preserve these items, but we are losing ground.

With your help, we will:

  • Create a research area to provide public access to our extensive photo and archive collection.
  • Insulate the museum to control temperature and humidity, the two things most destructive to historic collections.
  • Add collections work and storage space.
  • Remodel the restroom to ADA standards.
  • Build a roof and exhibit space around the Sally J to honor our rich maritime heritage, and add year-round, exterior exhibit space to expand our island farming displays.