Diana Parsell Writer

Diana Parsell Writer

Diana Parsell Writer

Travel & Places

I Saw Glacier Bay Through 19th-Century Eyes

Caitlin Campbell Glacier Bay

An email out of the blue from U.S. park ranger Caitlin Campbell sparked my first trip to Alaska last summer, capped by a special experience at Glacier Bay. Caiti first contacted me a year ago after stumbling across the website and blog I started to chronicle my progress on a biography of Eliza Scidmore. (Formerly…

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Scidmore as National Geographic Female Explorer

Tourists at Muir Glacier, 1880s

Eliza Scidmore is known largely for her role as the earliest visionary of Washington’s cherry trees. She was also an intrepid traveler. And the National Geographic Society considers her its first female explorer. The Geographic recently spotlighted some of its pioneering women on its blog. I kicked off the series with an article on Eliza…

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In St. Louis, Intrepid Women on the Frontier

Brochure Women Writers of Frotier

I had never been to St. Louis until this fall. Funny I should have missed it, as I attended grad school in journalism at the University of Missouri in Columbia. Mizzou classmates and I used to pile into a car and go eat catfish at a tin-ceiling hotel in Booneville. We drove to Kansas City…

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Pilgrims at Japan’s Koyasan, Long After Scidmore

  Today, Buddhists and other pilgrims flock to the sacred site of Koyasan, a mountainous area of temples in southeastern Japan. The New York Times ran an article about it in the Oct. 22 travel section. Eliza Scidmore wrote about Koyasan in 1907 for National Geographic. It’s interesting to see the different takes on the same place…

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‘Drain the Swamp’ Gave Us Cherry Trees

Dredging in Washington river 1891

Donald Trump rode a populist wave to the White House promising to “drain the swamp” in Washington. Politicians have used the phrase for decades. Famously, President Ronald Reagan made it a catchphrase of his vow to reduce the federal bureaucracy. The “swamp” really did exist in Eliza Scidmore‘s day. Literally — but not quite. Many…

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I Stumbled on Santa Near White House

This guy is … obviously Santa Claus. I met him yesterday on my way to the Library of Congress to do research on my biography of Eliza Scidmore. These days I have a new routine on the days when I go to the library. I take Metro into town, but exit at the Foggy Bottom…

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Tokyo Park Inspired Washington’s Cherry Trees

Ramble Under Cherry Trees, Takashima 1897

  “No other flower in all the world is so beloved, so exalted, so worshipped, as sakura-no-hana, the cherry-blossom of Japan.” — Eliza Scidmore, The Century Magazine, May 1910 It’s now blooming season in Washington. That means cherry tree fever along the Tidal Basin in Potomac Park. The display offers our own “Mukojima on the…

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‘Pen Pal’ in Japan Aids My Book Research

Ichiro Fudai

This is Ichiro Fudai. We’ve never met. But he and I have corresponded online for many weeks, after he learned about my book project on Eliza Scidmore through a TV program that aired during my research trip to Japan in 2013. Ichiro, who has visited the United States and has an excellent command of English,…

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Marking the Anniversary of Eliza Scidmore’s Death

Eliza Scidmore Gravesite

November 3 was the anniversary of Eliza Scidmore‘s death. Today I received photos from Mina Ozawa and Kaoro Onji, who paid a visit to Scidmore’s gravesite in Yokohama. I met both woman last spring during a research trip to Japan. Together, they work to keep the memory of Eliza Scidmore alive through an annual memorial…

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Shut Out From the Library of Congress

Study desk Library of Congress

Bruce and I are now a 100-percent furloughed household. He’s in a “non-essential” federal job and thus on unofficial R&R. And here’s what the government shutdown looks like from my little spot in the universe. It’s my tiny “study desk” room at the Library of Congress, on the fifth floor of the Adams Building. I’ve…

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