October is Archives Month, and archives around the state are celebrating the occasion with the theme of “Strange Washington.” We in the Northwest Room—the Everett Public Library’s local history collection of books, maps, newspapers, photos, and manuscripts—are no strangers to strange stuff. In fact, we’re quite fond of the quirky tales of Everett’s eccentric past—the stories and collections that make our local heritage feel odd and interesting.
But recently we managed to push our love for Strange Everett to its limits. In cleaning out an archival storage room—the former garage for the beloved Pegasus Bookmobile —we stumbled on a couple of particularly strange items.
First up, nestled deep in a box full of old glass bottles and other treasures that had been dug up from a construction site and inexplicably buried in our basement, we found this jaw fragment. Bonus points if you can tell us what kind of creature it belonged to. (Remember, we’re librarians/historians/archivists, not dentists or veterinarians).
In another box a few shelves over, we found a bit of library lore. The cardboard box—carefully labeled “Notorious Bloody Nightshirt and Other Disgusting Exhibit Files” — contained precisely that.
Forty years ago, the library received a donation of old photos and archival materials from someone cleaning up at the Snohomish County Courthouse. The photos and documents were properly archived and added to our historical collection. It seems nobody quite knew what to do with the rest—the so-called “bloody nightshirt” and assortment of broken eyeglasses and other personal items in the box. The soiled sleepwear had been used as evidence in a murder trial in the 1910s, and then it languished in a cardboard box for a century. While the shirt and its owner had a strange and sad story to tell about Snohomish County history, the library was not the appropriate final resting place for this material. The nightshirt is now happily haunting the Everett Museum of History, where it can be properly cared for and stored with other historical textiles. May its owner rest in peace.
While we don’t have these particular strange items on display, we have many other weird and wonderful stories and photos to share in the Northwest Room. Browse our digital archives to explore Strange Everett and drop a link in the comments of the strangest photo you find.