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The ‘Green Book’

Volunteer Nina Hellett, a committee member who helped revise the Kitsap County history book, put in hundreds of hours on the project. The book recently won state honors. - Leslie Kelly
Volunteer Nina Hellett, a committee member who helped revise the Kitsap County history book, put in hundreds of hours on the project. The book recently won state honors.
— image credit: Leslie Kelly

When Nina Hallett and Carolyn McClurkan put hours and hours into the re-drafting of the recorded history of Kitsap County, they knew they had something special.

Now, everyone else does, too.

The book, “Kitsap County: A History,” has received the “Excellence in Publications” award from the Washington Museum Association. Hallett and McClurkan and Kitsap County Historical Society Museum Director Patricia Drolet will travel to Ellensburg this week to receive the award.

The 839-page book is lovingly called the “Green Book,” by those who helped with it. It is an updated version of what they call the “Brown Book.” That book was printed in 1977 and is a history of the county from its founding through 1977. It took more than four years to be written. The updated version took about five years to come together.

“When the original book was put together, it was done by an engineer who put an index at the end of each section,” Hallett said. “It was user unfriendly.”

The original book was sectioned by the school districts that existed in 1977 - North, Central, South, Bremerton and Bainbridge Island, plus an introduction. When the new book was created, it kept those sections, but indexed the entire book together. The new book also includes information about Kitsap names, lakes, post offices, logging and naval terms.

To begin the re-creation, they went to work trying to locate all the photographs that were in the original book. They hired Jack Swanson, a former newspaper editor, to edit the re-draft, but when he became ill, they did the editing themselves.

Hallett didn’t keep track of all the hours she put in on the book. But she did the last year.

“I put in 1,660 hours,” she said. “I tell my husband, that’s more hours than many of the associates in his law firm are required to put in.”

The group also relied on Eric Dahlberg, of Chico, who had experience with computer programs and taught himself the program they were using to produce the book.

“He was a godsend,” she said. “He was able to get the book in the format that we wanted.”

Many of the stories in the book were new to those who were putting it together. Hallett has her favorites.

Among them, that of Delia Wallace and Annie Hyde of Bainbridge Island, who heard of a family with illness on the south side. Doctors weren’t available, so they rowed across the bay (from Port Blakely to Port Madison) to the home of that family. Once on the other side, they beached their boat but forgot about the rising tide. After a day’s work caring for the sick family, they found their boat had floated off. So they pulled up their skirts and knelt on a plank of wood, gathered up some big sticks and rowed home.

“Supper was only a little late,” Hallett quotes the book.

Another aspect of the book that Hallett likes is studying the founding families of Kitsap and their contributions to Kitsap County.

Hallett, who has lived in the Bremerton area since 1960, considers herself to be a local, although she was raised in England. She moved here when her husband took a job in Seattle.

Her love of history goes way back.

“I just love history,” she said. “When I was young and lived in England, I’d take the bus to the Bristol Museum to study. I practically lived there.”

She has been a docent at the Burke Museum at the University of Washington and gives many hours to the Kitsap County Historical Museum, including putting up exhibits at the museum.

“She is multi-talented,” said Patricia Drolet, director. “Besides the book, when we found we didn’t have money for a curator, she took that on, too. This honor is well-deserved.”

More than 500 books have been sold. They decided to have 2,000 printed because the previous book, published in 1977 had to be reprinted.

Particularly important to the group is that the section on Native American history was checked for accuracy by the chairman of the Squamish Tribe and the Duwamish Tribe.

As for recording Kitsap County History from 1977 on into the future, Hallett said she’s leaving that to someone else.

“That’s a whole new book,” she said. “That’s a project for someone else.”

The book is available at the museum, 280 Fourth St. in Bremerton, or go online to www.kitsaphistory.org to order the book by mail. It sells for $75, plus tax and shipping.

 

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