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Life & Work with Mark Iverson and Jeff Wade

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mark Iverson and Jeff Wade. 

Hi Mark and Jeff, so excited to have you on the platform. So, before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I started Idahistory in 2019 after leaving the City of Boise Department of Arts and History where I was a historian’s assistant. As a member of the department, I had provided historical walking tours around town and people really responded well to my style, the use of humor, and entertaining narrative especially. I felt stifled as an employee there and I wanted to do my own thing, so I quit and started Idahistory Tours. My vision was to blend the academic history I learned how to create as a graduate student at Boise State University, with the fun and engaging public history I was a fan of. From Loggers Creek to Eagle Rock and A Macabre History of Boise were the product of this vision. A Macabre History of Boise has been the foundational core of further developing Idahistory Tours. 

While giving this tour, I met my present business partner Jeff Wade. Jeff had previously written, produced, and hosted a show called Cascadia Podcast: History of the Pacific Northwest. He also self-published his first book, Brave as a Lion: Jeff Standifer and the Knights of the Golden Circle shortly before we met. We got talking, and I had heard of him as a local author before, so we joined forces to write a book, based on the Macabre History of Boise concept. The one book turned into two books with Arcadia Publishing – The History Press. They are Murder and Mayhem: Boise and Haunted America: Boise and they are set to be published next in 2022. Jeff also developed a tour called A Macabre History of Nampa, Idaho, a tour that has helped us to expand into more of the Boise Valley. Earlier this year we dropped the tours from the Idahistory to reflect that we are more than a tour company. We now offer customized historical, historic property, and genealogical research as well, plus personalized tours. We have ideas for future tours and a promising partnership with Feeling Groovy Tours out of Boise. This partnership will see us bring life to the tour we first drafted, From Logger’s Creek to Eagle Rock: A History of Westward Expansion on Boise’s Eastside. Today we stand on the verge of significant growth, but to do so we must employ other historians and guides to our roster. We must generate new content, publish books, create merchandise based on historic items and images we find in the archives, provide tours, advertise, and keep up on administrative tasks…all things we struggle to get done at times. With increased media attention we have expanded, but we must develop a new business plan to maintain this growth. 

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Mark’s Response: 

It has been a long road full of ups and downs. Working with bureaucracy has been a challenge at times, certain actions taken by specific city officials wasted my time and efforts, and had I known these challenges would place themselves in my path, I never would have taken on projects with these organizations in the first place. Working with the public has been significantly rewarding overall. Developing a tour is like writing a movie script and a book at the same time. When Jeff and I fine-tune our tours how we want them, it is intimidating to throw that product, made from a lot of effort and time, out there to the public. For the most part, everyone has been super supportive. The first year of offering tours was a challenge as we revised tours before a live audience, and that is intimidating. However, this is how you get comfortable in front of a crowd. The road has not been smooth, but I learned so much along the way and so many people have lent me a helping hand and encouraged me, especially my wife Michala. I feel lucky to have found such support and am excited about the future of Idahistory. Jeff and I make a great team, I believe he is the best business partner I could have found to further develop Idahistory. 

Jeff’s Response: 

Joining IdaHistory has been a great experience for me. I have been really lucky to get to work with Mark. We both had experiences where we had business partners that weren’t as passionate about the history as we are, so when we got together it was a natural fit. Personally, though, I have a lot of social anxiety so it is difficult for me to get out in front of a crowd, or even reach out to potential customers or partners. Watching Mark do his tour inspired me to learn how to do it, and now I am running our Nampa tour. Of course, trying to run a tour business during a pandemic has been a big challenge. Finding customers and convincing them to walk around a city with us for a couple of hours is not easy, but the ones who do tend to love it. Figuring out what historical content people want to consume is often hard for us as well. Our ultimate goal is to bring forth long-forgotten stories, and we love hear the phrase “I never knew that.” 

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
Mark’s Response: 

I have been a historian for all my life really, because my dad taught history, or social studies and geography, for 35 years in the Seattle Area. Our basement was filled with history books, books of all kinds really, but most especially history books. I always wanted to know about the people buried in historic cemeteries, obscure wars in American history, wars in places I’d never heard of, and peoples and cultures from all over the world. I was employed by the City of Seattle Parks and Recreation Specialized Programs, a department that worked directly with the special needs community in the city, and I was introduced to diversity in a profound way. I witnessed poverty I’d never experienced before and I grew interested in the plight of the less fortunate and the discriminated against. This curiosity led me to the Peace Corp and to Bulgaria in 2007. I lived as a volunteer in Bulgaria for 2 years and 3 months, working alongside Bulgarians at a juvenile detention center and school for Roma youth. The poverty and violence of the place were overwhelming and the discrimination of the Roma at the place, and in Bulgaria, was apparent from the start. The questions I had about discrimination only increased, so upon my return, after I married Michala – a fellow volunteer I met in Bulgaria – I went to Boise State University after we moved to Boise in 2010. I studied ethnic tensions at their worst by focusing my graduate thesis on the Bosnian War fought from 1992 to 1995. I relied on international archives and the trial documents from the repository of the International Criminal Court for the Former Yugoslavia, the ICTY, gaining a deep appreciation for archival research. After graduating in 2014, working for the City of Boise until 2018, and doing contract research work for a year, I started Idahistory so I could engage in archival research that interested me and that I could turn into fun tours for the public. I began a Ph.D. Program in Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Gratz College in Philadelphia, but withdrew after a year because I could not start a business and be a Ph.D. candidate at the same time. I chose Idahistory in short, so it really is like a child to me; I have given up a lot for it, struggled in raising it, and love it like my own child. 

Jeff’s Response: 

For about 15 years I have worked in the law enforcement field, mostly as a correctional officer, and my degree is in Criminal Justice, but I always wanted to be a writer. I thought I would write fiction, but a few years ago a friend and I started talking about local area history and I realized that there are so many stories out there that people haven’t heard. We started the podcast, which lasted for a year. I had to learn how to do all of the recording, editing, and distribution myself and that gave me the confidence that I needed to later work with Mark and Idahistory. In December of 2019, I self-published my first book, Brave as a Lion: Jeff Standifer and the Knights of the Golden Circle. Standifer was an early pioneer to the Pacific Northwest, coming here for the gold rushes. He was also a secret agent working for the Confederate government during the Civil War. I was the first to tell his story. Coming from a law enforcement background has been a blessing in my historic work. It taught me that everything is not always what it seems, and how to dig deeper to find all of the available details on a story. 

What makes you happy?
Mark’s Response: 

I love travel, food from other cultures, history of all kinds, making people laugh, but most of all – my family. One of the things my kids and I, and at times my niece and nephew, do is go find old ghost towns and other hard-to-find historic locations. It’s like a treasure hunt and it is really rewarding to my life and those of my kids. Getting out and exploring really makes you feel alive, especially when you get to then share it with other interested people. I love interacting with folks who love history or are from an area and learn something they didn’t know before. I like making people happy and interacting positively with them, especially now when life in America seems so contentious. 

Jeff’s Response: 

Jeff’s Response: 

I get really excited when I find some obscure story from the past that I can research. Mark always says I find the weirdest stuff, and he is right. There is nothing more satisfying than pulling a thread and the whole sweater, and maybe even the pants, unravel. I love doing family history for people, especially when I find some shocking details such as a nice murder in their family tree. I consider myself a lifelong learner and usually can be found listening to some podcast to expand my knowledge. 

I love collecting old postcards and sometimes spend a little too much time on eBay. I also love to spend time with my family, raising my three boys is my greatest joy in life. I also love to get out into the outdoors, hiking and off-roading in my Jeep. I am also a huge metal fan, and when I am not listening to podcasts, I have music playing almost all the time. I would listen to metal in my sleep if my wife would let me! 


  • $25.00 Macabre History of Boise Tour
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Image Credits:

Amanda Smith
Jeff Wade

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