Tacoma’s role in national history is on the way to screens around the world after a television crew swung through the city to film segments on the City of Destiny’s history and how it shaped the nation.
Producers and videographers from C-SPAN’s Book TV and American History TV spent last week filming some of Tacoma’s notable historians and nonfiction authors for segments that will be available online and during special Tacoma weekend of Aug. 5 on C-SPAN2 and C-SPAN3.
The segments about Tacoma are part of C-SPAN’s Cities Tour weekend programming that features cities around the nation as a way to not only promote history and general knowledge of regions of the nation but also let city’s tell their stories to people outside of their region. The segments, supported by Comcast, don’t have interviewers asking questions that experts answer more than they allow the experts to tell the stories from start to finish.
“In our vision, it’s the city telling the story,” said Coordinating Producer Debbie Lamb.
Crews spent months researching the city and lining up interview subjects before parachuting in for a blitz of interviews and filming for a week before hopping to another city.
Tacoma’s interviews C-SPAN3’s American History TV included Washington State History Museum’s Gwen Whiting, talked about the history of Lumber, Tacoma’s maritime History, the area’s Native Americans and international shipping and trade through the city. Historian and professor Michael Sullivan talked about the Prairie Line Trail, the Northern Pacific Railway and the original Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Washington State History Museum’s Emma Smith DeVoe and Susan Roher talked about Washington’s place in the women’s suffrage movement and professor Andre Gomez talked about the Chinese expulsion from Tacoma and the current reconciliation efforts.
Book TV, on C-SPAN2, will have segments that feature Harold Moss’ autobiography, “Fighting for Dreams that,” authors Leon Grunberg and Sarah Moore’s “Emerging from Turbulence: Boeing and Stories of the American Workplace Today,” Marian Harris’ “Racial Disproportionality in Child Welfare,” Russell Holter’s “Rails to Paradise a History of the Tacoma Eastern Railroad 1890-1919,” Tanya Erzen’s “God in Captivity: The Rise of Faith-Based Prison Ministries in the Age of Mass Incarceration,” Katherine Baird’s “Trapped in Mediocrity: Why Our Schools Aren't World-Class and What We Can Do About It,” and Justin Wadland’s “Trying Home: The Rise and Fall of an Anarchist Utopia on Puget Sound.”
“We had so much to choose from,” Lamb said. “It was amazing.”
She had heard about the sibling rivalry between Seattle and Tacoma that has created the sense of Tacoma being a younger, grittier suburb of the Emerald City rather than its own city. But her thoughts changed during the visit.
“I didn’t feel that at all,” she said. “It’s a very unique city. You have such a vibrant literary and cultural heritage.”
The programs C-SPAN produces in Tacoma will air on Book TV on C-SPAN2, Comcast channel 25; and on American History TV on C-SPAN3, Comcast channel 150 and available at c-span.org.