While helping researchers at the Washington State Archives, Candace Wellman discovered that about 90 percent of all marriages in Whatcom County’s early decades were cross-cultural. The husbands included nearly every community founder and official. Yet when she studied the written chronicles, only white women were mentioned as founding mothers. It seemed many historians considered the indigenous women to be unknowable, unimportant, and uninteresting. She became determined to illuminate the hidden history surrounding these relationships. Producing her manuscript required eighteen years and close to two hundred collaborators.
An expert in research methods, sociology, history, and genealogy, Wellman began by re-scrutinizing old sources and searching for new ones, particularly legal cases. Focusing on cross-cultural couples, she found evidence that, except in rare cases, local and regional historians stereotyped and ignored the Frontier West’s intermarried women. Peace Weavers challenges their viewpoint and Wellman hopes that her efforts will inspire others to re-examine the historical role played by these relationships.
Wellman holds a B.A. in Sociology from Washington State University and a B.Ed. in History/Secondary Education from Western Washington University, and has pursued graduate work in sociology. Born and raised in Washington, the Bellingham resident is a local history consultant and speaks regularly about women’s history and regional settlement.
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