Arlene Spencer is a Staff Writer for Global Maritime History founded in 2013 by Oxford University Bodleian Library Manager, naval historian, and art historian, Dr Justin Reay; and Dr Samuel McLean, graduate from the Department of War Studies, King’s College of London, also a Canadian Nautical Research Society Councillor.
Arlene is also a regular contributor to the Grand Coulee, Washington State based history writers publication, Them Dam Writers. Them Dam Writers began in 1985 specifically to promote the research and sharing of the local history of the Grand Coulee region.
These two publications publish and market her writing and research to the reading consumers interested in the historical periods and geographic regions in which her research subjects lived.
Since 2010, from her home office in Seattle she’s researched three subjects full time. Arlene has unearthed historical details about the life of Richard Williams alias Cornish for her historical non-fiction book about Cornish – the first yet. Master of a merchant vessel, Cornish was hanged in Jamestown. She has completed research for her two other historical non-fiction books: one about James Dillman a sheep man, blacksmith, and trapper, who was an Oregon pioneer and a survivor of the violent Range Wars; and the other about Catherine Northrup who survived a particularly lethal sortie against newly settled homesteaders during the Nez Perce War but was, ten years after, murdered.
Based on what Arlene has uncovered about Cornish, Dillman, and Northrup, their experiences make sharing what she has learned about them that much more important.
In 1992 Arlene earned her Bachelor of Science in Anthropology at Central Washington University (CWU) in Ellensburg, Washington. After, as a professional archaeological crew member, she surveyed two Pre-Contact Native American sites and two historical sites in Washington State. In 1998 she returned to CWU and completed two years of study in the Resource Management Masters of Science program, where she focused on the Cultural Resource Management (Archaeology) track.
Arlene attended Central Washington Archaeological Survey (CWAS) Field School during summer, 1991. As a CWAS student she surveyed, mapped, recorded, and excavated a pre-contact hunting and kill processing site in the Yakima River Canyon. Two descendants of those hunters, Yakama Nation Elders Bill Yallup and Johnson Meninick, were invited to the CWAS class to discuss their experience of non-Native archaeological field work on their traditional and ceded lands. While explaining the importance of the interactions between humans nature and the Yakama’s personal knowledge of the site’s historical usage, the Elders conveyed the difference between others excavating ceded Yakama land and their tribal members excavating and interpreting the Yakamas’ historical past. For her it was among the most lasting lessons of the field season. Their candor and the points they made remained with her; so much so that, after grad school she chose to work in history rather than archaeology, in part because of what Yallup and Meninick said.