Coffee & Collections Series features historian Whitman

Posted: Thursday, March 11, 2010

The next Coffee & Collections series will feature historian Mark Whitman, who will present Dick Willoughby's Book of Claims. The free presentation will take place at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, March 13 at the city museum.

"There was nothing subtle about researching Willoughby," Whitman said. "He kind of jumps out and grabs you by the shoulders."

So who was Dick Willoughby? According to Whitman, Richard Gentry Willoughby, also known as Uncle Dick or the "Professor" is the closest thing to a living tall tale that Whitman has ever come across.

"Time and again he shows up in a crucial moment of history and is written about by others," says Whitman. "Willoughby was the history of the Pacific Northwest. He did not need to write it, or even tell the half of it: the truth was, he got more people than you can imagine to write it all down for him, as he lived it out. He was the 'real deal,' unseen behind the hoax, the pioneer prospector hiding behind his own legend."

So is it the truth or does this master of hoax still fool us over 100 later? Join us this Saturday and you be the judge.

Coffee & Collections is a presentation series hosted by the Juneau-Douglas City Museum located at Fourth and Main streets. Coffee for this series is provided by Heritage Coffee Company. Admission to the Museum is free for the month of March thanks to Robert and Michelle Storer.

For more information about this program and other upcoming events, visit or call586-3572.

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