Book Showcases Historic HSU Photos

A new book by alumna Katy Tahja offers a fun and quirky photographic tour through HSU’s nearly 100-year history.

Titled simply “Humboldt State University,” it contains more than 200 archival photos. Many have never previously been published.

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The campus dorm in the 1920s, where Nelson Hall now stands.

The book’s photos cover a range of subjects, from old dorm rooms with wood burning stoves to blimps flying over campus. Many show the impact on campus of events like the Great Depression, World War II and the Vietnam War. There are also plenty of photos of athletics and social events throughout the years. On the cover is a chemistry class in Founders Hall in 1938.

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The Lucky Logger mascot in the 1962 Homecoming parade.

The book was published by Arcadia Press as part of its “Campus History Series.” It will be available soon at the HSU Bookstore, at area stores and online.

In addition, the book will be sold at two upcoming campus events: the opening reception on May 14 for an exhibit in the Library; and at Commencement on May 15 in the Humboldt Alumni tent. The author will be on hand for book signings at both events.

The book’s author, Katy Tahja, earned her bachelor’s degree journalism 40 years ago at Humboldt State. She says she came to Humboldt in 1967 just looking for an education – but ended up falling in love with the campus, its teachers and the surrounding natural environment.

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The cast from a 1920’s production with a gypsy theme.

She eventually married David Tahja, also an HSU alumnus, and their daughter Fern continued the family tradition by graduating from HSU in 2007.

“The book is my way of saying ‘Thank you’ to my alma mater,” Tahja says, adding: “Special thanks will always go to Mac McClary, professor emeritus, who was my mentor 40 years ago and also taught my daughter Fern.”

Tahja had previously written several other local history books, including “Early Mendocino Coast,” “Rails Across the Noyo: a Rider’s Guide to the Skunk Train,” and “All Roads Lead to Comptche.”

Those prior projects gave her the idea for the HSU book. She teamed up with long-time friend Joan Berman of the HSU Library’s Humboldt Room, which houses a large collection of campus photos, and spent last summer sorting through thousands of old and new images. She had to narrow them down to just over 200.

The exhibit in the Library opens May 11 and will feature additional photos not published in the book. The opening reception will be held from 4 to 5:30 p.m., on Friday, May 14 in the Library Lobby. The exhibit was developed by students in the Museum and Gallery Practices certificate program who are interning in the Library Humboldt Room – graduating seniors Katie LaSala, Kiri Clayton and Ashley Rubay.

Tahja is encouraging readers to try to find themselves in the book. HSU also welcomes additional information about any of the historic photos – contact Joan Berman in the Humboldt Room at Joan.Berman@humboldt.edu or (707) 826-4939; or Tahja at ktahja@mcn.org or P.O. Box 194 Comptche, CA 95427.