Loaned by Meta Buttnick
After a childhood in Fairbanks, Alaska and an education in Dublin and Paris, Meta Buttnick moved to Seattle where her family had originally settled in 1889. She and her family became very active in Seattle’s Orthodox Jewish community, helping to found Jewish schools and organizations, and Meta became a pioneer in documenting Seattle’s Jewish history.
Meta’s life was entwined with the pioneering and mixed ethnic communities of the city’s early days. In 1939, she married Harry Buttnick, whose family had founded the OK Hotel in Pioneer Square about 1910. They operated the hotel, and later hired employees, often from Seattle’s Japanese American community. The manager of the OK Hotel gave the newlyweds this set of lacquer ware made in Japan.
Two years later, most members of Seattle’s Japanese American community were interned in camps. In retrospect, Meta remembers that “I felt very sorry for the individuals that I saw were affected by it and did everything I could to help them. I felt sorry for people that had to give up businesses and homes. After all, they were deprived of civil rights. And you know, if they start depriving Japanese, they can deprive Jews or anybody else. It had an impact on everybody.”
© 2004 Jewish Women’s Archive.