Kittitas County Historical Museum hosting lecture on apple boxes

According to a news release, the Kittitas County Historical Museum continues its annual lecture series with a presentation at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Kittitas County Historical Museum in Historic Downtown Ellensburg. The event is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be served. The lecture will focus on the history of apple box labels in Washington state. From the mid-1900s until 1960, orchardists shipped these famous fruits in wooden boxes with artful paper labels pasted to the ends with Apple Bowl, Apple Capitol, Apple Lane, Apple King, and Apple Town. Growers used these catchy slogans to advertise their product and boast of how Washington state, by the 1930s, was number one in the United States for apple production.

Apple box labels came from cities such as Wenatchee and Yakima, famous for their sweet growing conditions, aandother smaller towns such as Peshastin, Omak, Oroville, Green Bluff, Dayton, and White Salmon. They also came from unusual places like Wagnersburg, Marble, and White Bluffs — towns that no longer exist. Label designers used attractive images to entice buyers in fruit auction houses and customers at local grocery stores to buy their products. Kelsey Doncaster will display examples of these bold and iconic marketing images from his collection as he presents the history of Washington apple box labels. Doncaster will give free appraisals of fruit box labels after the presentation, and every attendee will receive a free vintage apple box label.

Historical Museum

About the speaker

Doncaster has been an avid collector, lecturer, and historian of Pacific Northwest fruit box labels for over 25 years. Since hollecting fruit box labels, he has been researching the history of the lithograph companies, growers, packers, firms, people, and places they were used. He is a fifth-generation Washingtonian whose family’s history has been intertwined with Washington state’s from the territory era to the present day. He holds a master’s degree in resource management from Central Washington University, a BA in history, and a BFA in painting from the University of Washington. He has been employed as a Historian for the United States Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), serving Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and western Montana since 2008. He has written many cultural resource reports, Historic American Engineering Records, and National Register of Historic Places nominations, and has given numerous presentations on Reclamation projects, dams, irrigation systems, and ditch rider housing.

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