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New Book Tells the Neglected Stories of ‘Other Idahoans’

By: Cienna Madrid   Published 7:07 am / May 10, 2016

A snapshot of the front cover of the book "The Other Idahoans"A new book written and published by Boise State faculty and students recounts the often overlooked stories of Idaho’s vulnerable and marginalized populations that helped build and define the Boise area. “The Other Idahoans: Forgotten Stories of the Boise Valley” was collaboratively written by professionals and scholars-in-training from Boise State’s annual urban studies field school, hosted by the School of Public Service. It is part of the Investigate Boise Community Research Series, which publishes fact-based essays of popular scholarship concerning the problems and values that shape metropolitan growth.

Rediscovered Books (180 N. Main St. in Boise) will host a book launch and signing from 5-7 p.m. Friday, June 10, featuring drinks, finger foods and of course, the authors themselves.

The book features essays rooted in hard labor: a poor farm, a graveyard, a prison camp, a prison ward, a gold mine, a farm community and a grid of minority housing. In these settings, student researchers tell stories not commonly fit for history books – like Boise State senior Misty Rose’s efforts to track down records of a pandemic that Idahoans tried hard to forget, explained historian and series editor Todd Shallat.

“We think of the prosperity of irrigation in this valley as if the homesteaders struck it rich,” Shallat said. “Some waited their lives for water that never came. Graduate student Roy Cuellar tells the story.”

Ceci Thunes, a political science senior, recounted the story of women imprisoned for poverty and debt; Julie Okamura wrote an essay about the Japanese who built the Oregon Short Line into Boise, working for a dollar a day, who were routinely harassed and assaulted by mobs; Susan Hook identified the WWII German Prisoner of War camps in the area.

You can download a copy of “The Other Idahoans: Forgotten Stories of the Boise Valley” here. Hard copies also are available for sale via the School of Public Service website and at Rediscovered Books.

In addition to editing the collection, Shallat was the lead author for the book. Namanny Asmussen, Nicholas Canfield, Roy Cuellar, Pam Demo, Emily Fritchman, Susan Hook, Julie Okamura, Mistie Rose, Ceci Thunes and Statesman columnist Anna Webb were contributing authors. Archaeologist Molly Humphreys directed the historical field work. Colleen Brennan worked with Shallat to edit and structure the chapters. Toni Rome worked on the graphic design.