Do you have penitentiary artifacts?

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I recently read Ralph Trethewey's Sept. 14 letter recommending the Fort Walla Walla Museum as a perfect "staycation" for locals to enjoy. I couldn't agree more.

As a volunteer working with the museum to update and acquire more materials for the Washington State Penitentiary exhibit there, I have come to learn just how amazing the museum is.

You can travel to a lot of cities and not find a museum nearly as good as this one. It really is a significant museum in its own right. This is a low cost "no-brainer" for filling a day for the entire family and visiting guests.

Occasionally I will ask folks if they have ever been to the museum and a small percentage will say they have. When I ask those who have when it was they last went to the museum, a majority will say it was many years ago.

In those cases I tell them they really haven't seen this museum at all. If it's been many years since you've been there, you can go again and see an entirely new museum. I am very impressed with the displays and grounds being redesigned to capture the interest of all ages.

While I'm at it, if there is anyone out there with penitentiary artifacts -- documents, photos, uniforms, mementos, etc., the museum would very much like to add them to the penitentiary collection. Having been a past superintendent (warden) of the penitentiary, I could go on and on about how much history was lost -- carried off or given away over the years until almost none remains.

Because of the efforts of former penitentiary Associate Superintendent Bob Freeman and recently deceased former Superintendent Bob Rhay, a permanent penitentiary display was created at the Fort Walla Walla Museum. I have joined Bob in his efforts to increase the penitentiary collection and update the display. If you have anything of 1940s or earlier vintage, we would very much appreciate you donating it to the museum.

If you ever wondered what ought to be done with the stuff grampa packed off from the pen, you can rest assured it will be properly and safely preserved with the best museum archiving and storage technology available. If you haven't thought of it, please do!

Richard "Dick" Morgan

Walla Walla

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