Satko's Ark - Title

Satko's Ark is an experiment in non-fiction storytelling using digital and vintage audio with an online archive of images to document the journey of Paul Satko and his family from Richmond, Virginia to Tacoma, Washington and then on to Alaska during the American Great Depression. Originally aired as a 9-part broadcast on Seattle's NPR staion, this site now serves as it's primary story-telling platform. Requests to re-broadcast as well as other questions and comments can be submitted here.

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Great American Journeys

Humanities Washington

Journey stories — tales of how we and our ancestors came to America — are a central element of our personal heritage. Washington state is filled with stories of people leaving behind everything to reach a new life in another state, across the continent or even across an ocean. In 1940, the Satko family headed out from Tacoma on their way to a new life in Alaska. In a homemade boat. The same craft that, in an earlier incarnation as a sort of rudimentary RV, they'd driven across the country from Virginia. Their story is told in a new traveling exhibition for the Smithsonian and Humanities Washington.

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The Great Depression in Tacoma

The Great Recession in Tacoma

The financial crisis of the late‐2000's, commonly referred to as the Great Recession, is considered by many to be the worst financial disaster since the Great Depression of the 1930s. With protests and demonstrations making headline news, our current situation is often compared to the Great Depression, adding to the timeliness of the Hope In Hard Times exhibit. This unique opportunity allows the Washington State History Museum to both educate and inspire by explaining what happened during this era and how it is different than our present‐day economic position.

Hope In Hard Times

Washington State History Museum

A collection of art, photos and everyday objects from the Depression era, centering on a collection of paintings by artist Ronald Debs Ginther, this exhibit shows parallels between the Great Depression and our present‐day economic crisis. Hope In Hard Times brings to life the story of how Washingtonians triumphed over adversity during the Great Depression and worked together for change.



Dominic Black, Writer/Producer
Artifacts Inc. (Tacoma, WA)

Michael Sullivan, Historical Consultant
Artifacts Inc. (Tacoma, WA)

Jim Gates, Editor

Dave Bledsoe, Readings

Patricia Kelly, Readings

Adam Welch, Creative Director
Hemisphere Design & Marketing

Lance Kagey, Creative Support
Rotator (Tacoma, WA)


Steve Scher, Radio Host
Weekday at KUOW

Scott Schoenen, Director of Marketing and Communications
Washington State History Museum

Gwen Perkins, Hope In Hard Times Curator and Education Specialist
Washington State History Museum

Jennifer Kilmer, Executive Director, Washington State Historical Society
Washington State History Museum

Amos Burg, Folklife Center
Library of Congress


There are so many people we'd like to thank that an exhaustive list is tricky. We'll make a start though, and if we miss you out, please drop us a line and let us know.

First of all, we are hugely grateful to the Satko family for their participation in the series. Particular thanks go to Northsea Meridians Bowey; Joe Satko; Herb Satko; Cathy Satko and John Satko.

We'd also like to thank Anita Meyer for her generosity in talking to us about the Satko family and their experience with ger father, Paul Luvera, in Anacortes.

Special thanks are due to Humanities Washington for their support. The story of the Satko family's journey was re-discovered as a part of Humanities Washington's Journey Stories project.

We'd also like to acknowledge the help and support of Steve Scher, Katy Sewall and KUOW FM Seattle for their willingness to make broadcasting the story as a radio series a reality.

Original audio recordings of Paul Satko were used with the permission of the Satko family. They are part of the Amos Burg Collection of Alaskan Recordings, at the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.

Any opinions expressed within the script of the series are solely those of the producers, and are not the opinions of family members unless where directly stated.

Thanks are also due to the following people and institutions:

The producers gratefully acknowledge the following sound producers whose work is used in the series. Sounds were acquired via download from