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Hanford History Partnership preserves unique past of Tri-Cities

Hanford History Partnership
RICHLAND, Wash. – A team of 11 agencies has united to preserve the unique history of the Tri-Cities as it relates to the Hanford site back to 1907, well before the Manhattan Project of World War II.

The Hanford History Partnership is coordinated by Washington State University Tri-Cities with outreach through its website,, and its “Our Hanford History” Facebook page.

“The Tri-Cities heritage is inextricably intertwined with the history of Hanford,” said Michael Mays, assistant vice chancellor of the College of Arts and Sciences programs at WSU Tri-Cities. “This collaboration will capture, compile and document the diverse stories of life in our region before they are lost to time. And the public’s help is needed to make sure the legacy endures.”

With the shared mission “to preserve and showcase the evolving Hanford story, so that a lasting legacy of Hanford’s contributions may be carried forward for the educational benefit of future generations,” the partners include:

• WSU Tri-Cities, represented by Mays and Sharon Holden with the Office of Advancement and Regional Development.
• African American Community Cultural & Educational Society, represented by C.J. Mitchell and Vanessa Moore.
• Max E. Benitz Memorial Library at WSU Tri-Cities, represented by Annanaomi Sams.
• B-Reactor Museum Association, represented by Maynard Plahuta.
• Columbia River Exhibition of History, Science and Technology (CREHST), represented by Ellen Low.
• East Benton County Historical Society, represented by Corene Hulse.
• Hanford Reach Interpretive Center, represented by Lisa Toomey.
• U.S. Department of Energy, represented by Colleen French.
• Northwest Public Television, represented by Tom Hungate and Linda Pasch.
• Herbert M. Parker Foundation, represented by Ron Kathren.
• Richland Public Library, represented by Ann Rosebury.
• Tri-City Development Council, represented by Gary Petersen.

The first phase of this long-term collaboration is the Hanford Oral History Project, with the six goals of: tripling the existing collection of oral histories; organizing the collection so it’s globally accessible; showcasing the history through lectures and public television; establishing WSU Tri-Cities as an interdisciplinary teaching and research center; developing a plan to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Manhattan Project in 2018; and establishing the Hanford History Collection as a permanent archive in the Max E. Benitz Library at WSU Tri-Cities.

“The Hanford History Partnership will allow students, professionals and visitors to explore the interconnections of Hanford’s evolution, including agriculture and the environment pre-1943, the link between science and war, the sociology and politics of the Cold War, the impact of technology on the American West, the migration stories of those who came to work at Hanford and live in the Tri-Cities, and the cultural contributions of its indigenous and settler cultures,” Mays said. “From pioneers to post-war cleanup, we want it all.”

The partnership will be led by Robert Bauman, associate professor of history. He teaches American history and public history, including courses on the civil rights movement, immigration, migration, ethnic identity and the Cold War. His professional experience includes serving as historian of the photo archives and oral history projects for the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and as historian for History Associates Inc., a Maryland-based consulting firm.

The partnership provides many opportunities to connect students of various disciplines with the community. WSU Tri-Cities offers bachelor of arts degrees in history, humanities, social sciences and digital technology and culture, plus bachelor and graduate degrees in engineering and environmental science.

The startup already has employed WSU Tri-Cities student Sarah St. Hilaire on a CREHST internship sponsored by Washington River Protection Solutions to help identify, research and locate pre-1943 landowners.

People who have details to share or a story to tell — or know someone who has — can contact the Hanford History Partnership at 509-372-7306, or

Melissa O’Neil Perdue, WSU Tri-Cities Marketing and Communications Manager, 509-372-7319, cell/text 509-727-3094,

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