Arlene Spencer is a Staff Writer for Global Maritime History a professional historical publication founded in 2013 by Oxford University Bodleian Library Manager, naval historian, and art historian, Dr Justin Reay; and Dr Samuel McLean, graduate of the Department of War Studies, King’s College of London who is also a Canadian Nautical Research Society Councillor.
Recently Arlene also regularly contributed to the Grand Coulee, Washington State based history publication, Them Dam Writers. Them Dam Writers began in 1985 to specifically promote and share Grand Coulee regional history but closed shop in April 2021.
These two publications publish and market her writing and research to consumers interested in the historical periods and places in which her research subjects lived. Her contributions to each of these publications increases her readership where her books are the most likely to sell.
Since 2010, from her home office in Seattle she’s researched three subjects full time. Her and the findings by the British researcher she is working with about Richard Williams alias Cornish will add to what is currently understood about him, early 17th century commercial sailing and English merchants and their role in the early British settlement of North America, and the first known use of capital punishment to enforce morality on the North American continent.
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 murdered ten years later. Not being patricians or powerful, James’ and Catherine’s histories will further what we understand about the Civil War, settler, Nez Perce Wars survivor, familial, regional and American histories of the ‘every person’.
No other books have been published about any of her subjects.
Arlene has written all of her life. She began writing creatively very young eventually writing professionally as a staff and consulting grant writer and fundraiser. She has always been an excellent writer. As a staff member, nearly entirely due to her writing, in five years, she raised approximately $750,000 for people with Multiple Sclerosis. Today, her education, professional experience, creativity, analytical attention to detail, and love of a good story come together in her writing.
In 1992 Arlene earned her Bachelor of Science in Anthropology at Central Washington University (CWU) in Ellensburg, Washington. After, 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 but she left the program.
During archaeology field school, as a student, she surveyed, mapped, recorded, and excavated a pre-contact hunting and kill processing site in the Yakima River Canyon. Descendants of those hunters, Yakama Nation Elders Bill Yallup and Johnson Meninick, spoke to the class about their perception of non-Native archaeological field work on traditional ceded lands. While explaining the importance of the interactions between humans nature and the site’s historical usage, the Elders conveyed the difference between others excavating ceded Yakama land and their tribal members excavating and interpreting their own historical past. For Arlene, it was among the most lasting lessons from college. Their talk remained with her eventually leading her to choose to research and write about post-contact history rather than continue any further with archaeology.