LEWISTON, Idaho – Lewis-Clark State College will hold a book sale and signing to celebrate a new book by the college’s Institutional Historian Steven Branting on the 125-year history of the college, called “The Words That Were Our Names: An LCSC Scrapbook,” on Nov. 12.
The book came about after Branting wrote about the college’s history in a series of columns for the Lewiston Tribune during LC State’s year-long 125th anniversary celebration in 2018. Branting’s pieces highlighted dates of interest in the school’s history and ran throughout the year.
Gray Dog Press of Spokane is expected to have 400 copies of the book ready by early November and as a kickoff celebration, Branting and LC State will have a book sale and signing on Nov. 12 at the college’s Center for Arts & History, located at 415 Main St. in Lewiston. Books will be available for purchase and signing at 5:30 p.m., and Branting will speak at 6:15 p.m. Appetizers and drinks will be available during the event.
Branting will also have book signings on Nov. 16 at the Nez Perce County Museum in Lewiston and later in the month at And Books Too in Clarkston.
The book also will be available to purchase online and at And Books Too. The book is $35 and Branting is using most of the proceeds from the book to start a scholarship endowment at LC State, called The Steven and Shann Branting Scholarship Endowment.
Branting says because he kept his pieces shorter for the newspaper, there is a lot of interesting information and stories he couldn’t write about, but the book gave him the opportunity to explore those areas. The book also contains more than 325 pictures.
“The articles I wrote turned out to be very popular and it was something I really enjoyed,” says Branting, a 1970 graduate of Lewis-Clark Normal School.
Branting says he had a large spreadsheet with dates and information, which helped him write more than 100 columns on people, events and the history of the college. Those columns, he says, provide the backbone for the book.
Branting says he entertained the idea of putting a book together and was encouraged to do so by several individuals, including LC State President Cynthia Pemberton, Foundation Executive Director Erika Allen, and Director of Alumni and Community Relations Renee Olsen.
Branting worked with the Graphic Communications program at LC, including professor Brian Kolstad, to put the book together. Clara Rampy, a senior in the graphic communications and design program, worked with Branting for seven weeks laying out the book. Rampy received her Associate's Degree in liberal arts in 2017 and is working on her bachelor's degree.
"Working with Steven Branting was a great learning experience as he was both genuinely invested in the content we were working with and very willing to work with my school schedule," Rampy said. "Hearing his historical anecdotes was also a highlight of our time working together."
“She was a godsend,” Branting said about Rampy. “She is a very talented young lady.”
Another student in the program, Clayton VanDyke, who also runs on the college’s cross country team, designed the book’s cover.
Branting says information and pictures used in the book came from several places, including Zurich, Switzerland, where Robert Nielsen, the son of Lewiston native and famous opera singer Anne Bollinger, lives. Branting says people are happy to send him information and pictures to help with the project.
Branting says the book touches on both stories that have been told through the years and some lesser-known facts, such as originally Lewiston was supposed to be the site of the state’s agriculture college, but because of politics, bribes, and actual fights, it went elsewhere.
The book is the eighth history book written by Branting, most of which have dealt with the city of Lewiston. Branting taught for more than 40 years in the Lewiston School district, including several at Jenifer Junior High. He received the Marion Shinn Lifetime Achievement award from the LC State Alumni Association in 2014.
Since 2000, many of the nation’s leading history, geography and preservation organizations – including the American Association for State and Local History, The History Channel and the Society for American Archaeology – have honored Branting for the depth, scope and variety of his research and field work.
In 2009, he was nominated for the American Historical Association’s William & Edwyna Gilbert Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to the teaching of history through the publication of journal articles.
The Idaho State Historical Society conferred upon him the 2011 Esto Perpetua Award, its highest honor, citing his leadership in “some of the most significant preservation and interpretation projects undertaken in Idaho.”
In 2013, the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution selected Branting to receive the coveted Historic Preservation Medal.