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Genealogical Resources

In addition to historical records indexed and/or digitized at the Digital Archives, the State Archives and State Library have a variety of resources to aid in your genealogy research.

Check out the Genealogy pages on the Washington State Library's web site for information about Free Obituary Requests, as well as the other Genealogy Resources at the State Library.




Ancestry Library Edition

The State Library has the Ancestry Library Edition which provides access to a variety of resources including U.S. census indexes & images 1790-1930; a version of Ancestry.com’s U.S. Immigration Collection; the U.S. Data collection which includes: vital records, the Social Security Death Index, church, military, court, land and probate records; and United Kingdom and Ireland census images and indexes. This resource is available on site only.

Biographical Resources

The State Library has many biographical resources available on site for genealogy research: Biography and Genealogy Master Index, Washington Pioneers (a multivolume set published by the Washington State Genealogical Society), Told by the Pioneers, and Family Records of Washington Pioneers (a 65 volume set published by the Daughters of the American Revolution). There is also a large collection of biographies of Washingtonians and other persons from the Pacific Northwest. Resources available online are Thurston County Pioneers, Governors of Washington State, and Women in the Washington State Legislature.

Birth and Death Registers -- 1891-1907

The State Archives has Birth and Death Registers. Registers or returns of births and deaths were recorded by each county auditor prior to 1907 when the functions were transferred to the state. With a few exceptions, before 1891 births and deaths were not recorded by any level of government in Washington. Birth Registers record names of parents, name of child, date, and birthplace. The Death Registers record name, place, date, and cause of death. Contact the State Archives Regional Branch representing the appropriate county.

The State Library also has these early birth and death registers in its NW Microfilm collection. These microfilm reels cover all counties in Washington State plus the cities of: Bellingham, Everett, Fairhaven, Olympia, Puyallup, Roslyn, and Seattle.

Please note that many births and deaths went unrecorded during this period and that the completeness of these pre-1907 records varies from county to county.

Birth Records Index -- 1907-1929

Beginning July 1, 1907, the State Department of Health assumed the duty of recording births and deaths.

The State Archives has a microfilm index to births organized by the Soundex system. The index shows the names of father, mother, and child, birth date, birthplace, and certificate number. Contact either the State Government Archives or the nearest State Archives Regional Branch to access this index.

The State Library, also, has the microfilm birth index 1907-1929 as well as additional print transcriptions available in the Northwest and Genealogy Reference collections.

The State Library has a microfilm Birth index containing records for various counties and years before 1910 with records organized according to the Soundex system. Additional print transcriptions, records, or indexes for births are also available in the Northwest Collection.

Please note copies of birth certificates dating from July 1, 1907 -- present may only be obtained through the State Department of Health, Center for Health Statistics.

City and County Directories

The State Library has an extensive collection of city directories available for use in the library, dating from 1890 to present. City directories were generally published annually and list the names and occupation of adult residents. If trying to find the specific place an ancestor lived, or verify his or her residence during non-census years, searching city and county directories may provide you with the information you need.

Directories are available for 35 Washington Counties and 300 cities.

County Histories

The State Library has county histories available on almost every county in Washington, some of which are available through interlibrary loan.

Court and Prison Records

The State Archives has Inmate files, admissions and Commitment Registers, and Mug shots for the Washington State Penitentiary and Reformatory from 1877-1961. The Territorial District Court cases include abstracts of more than 37,000 cases in civil, criminal, and probate. An index includes the names of all plaintiffs and defendants. The State Library has Frontier justice : guide to the court records of Washington Territory, 1853-1889 containing the index in 2 print volumes and the abstracts on 2 microfilm reels. Contact either the Washington State Library, State Government Archives or the nearest State Archives Regional Branch to access this index. This index can also be viewed online .

Daughters of the American Revolution Publications

The State Library has the Everyname index to the Washington State Society, Daughters of the American Revolution, Genealogical Records Committee Collection : covering the years 1927-2000, series 1-3. The State Library has: Series 1 - Genealogical gleanings, v1-9; Series 2 - Washington DAR Genealogical Records Committee Report - v5-42; Series 3 - Family records of Washington Pioneers - v1-67. These publications may only be used at the library.

Death Records Index -- 1907-2004

The State Archives has a microfilm index of deaths in Washington from 1907-1979. The index shows the name of deceased, date of death, place of death, age at time of death, and certificate number. A microfiche index of deaths in Washington from 1965-2000 is organized by the Soundex system. The index shows the name of the deceased, date of death, place of death, age at time of death, and certificate number. Contact either the State Government Archives or the nearest State Archives Regional Branch to access this index.

For use in the library, the State Library has microform indexes of deaths covering the period from 1907-2004. The indexes are organized by the Soundex system. Additional print transcriptions, records, or indexes for deaths are also available in the Northwest Collection.

Please note copies of death certificates dating from July 1, 1907 – present may only be obtained through the State Department of Health, Center for Health Statistics.

Divorce Records Index -- 1968-2004

Beginning in 1968 the State Department of Health assumed the official duty of recording marriages and divorces for the state.

The State Archives and the State Library have a Soundex index of Divorce Records arranged by the name of Husband or name of Wife. Available information includes the husband’s name, wife’s name, date of divorce, city, county, and certificate number. This index is available on microfiche. Contact either the State Government Archives, the State Library, or the nearest State Archives Regional Branch to access this index.

Please note copies of divorce certificates from years between 1968 ad present may only be obtained through the State Department of Health, Center for Health Statistics.

Gazetteers and Business Directories

The State Library has gazetteers and business directories dating from the late 19th and early 20th century. Among some of the titles are Pacific Coast Business (1867), Disturnell’s Business Directory and Gazetteer of the West Coast of North America (1882), McKenney’s Pacific Coast Directory (1883-4, 1886-7), and Oregon, Washington and Idaho Gazetteer and Business Directory (1886-7, 1892). These are available for on site use only.

Licensing Records

The State Archives has licensing records spanning from 1880-1985 for a variety of professions, including barbers, dentists, drugless healers, embalmers, notary public, optometry, physicians, registered nurses, and veterinarians.

Maps and Atlases

The State Library has Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps for Washington State on microfilm.

Marriage and Divorce Records -- pre-1968

The State Archives Regional Branches have multiple types of marriage records (Marriage Returns, Marriage Registers, Applications, Licenses, Affidavits, and Certificates) which were filed with county auditors and date from a county’s formation - 1968. Additionally, the Regional Archives can provide assistance in locating divorce records from this period. Contact the State Archives Regional Branch representing the appropriate county.

Marriage Records Index - 1968-2004

Beginning in 1968 the State Department of Health assumed the official duty of recording marriages and divorces for the state.

The State Archives and the Washington State Library have a Soundex index to Marriage Records arranged by name of groom or name of bride. Available information includes groom’s name, wife’s name and maiden name (if different), date of marriage, city, county, and certificate number. This index is available on microfiche.

The State Archives Regional Branches may have additional marriage records filed with counties from 1968 - Present, such as Applications, Licenses, Affidavits, and (county) Certificates. Contact either the State Government Archives or the nearest State Archives Regional Branch to access this index.

Please note copies of marriage and divorce certificates from years between 1968 and present may only be obtained through the State Department of Health, Center for Health Statistics.

Military Records

The State Archives has military records, serviceman cards, bonus applications, or rosters from the Indian War, Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War. Admissions files for the Orting Soldiers’ Home, 1891-1987, and Retsil Veterans’ Home, 1910-1992 are also available

The State Library has World War I Selective Service System draft registration cards, 1917-1918 for the State of Washington. WWI draft registration cards and Civil War service records for the entire United States are available using Ancestry Library Edition at the library. Selected Revolutionary War pension and bounty land warrant records are available using HeritageQuest Online at the library.

Naturalization, Probate, and other Court Records

Some naturalization records are available through the Secretary of State's Digital Archives .

The State Archives Regional Branches have Naturalization, Probate, and other court records collected on a county-by-county basis. Contact the State Archives Regional Branch representing the appropriate county.

Newspapers -- 1853-Present

The State Library has copies of Washington newspapers dating from 1853 - present available on microfilm. Most microfilm is available through interlibrary loan from your local public library. A library system may be loaned ten rolls or less per request per person for a 4-week period (including mailing time) with no renewals. The most current holdings information on newspapers is in the Library Catalog. Information is also available in the Washington State Union List of Newspapers on Microfilm which is held in many libraries or may be borrowed through interlibrary loan.

Periodicals

The State Library has a large number of local genealogical and historical periodicals available for reference including the following: Bulletin, Yakima Valley Genealogical Society, from 1969 on; Columbia: the magazine of Northwest history from Spring 1987 - present; Courier, East Benton County Historical Society from July 1979 - present; EWGS Bulletin from March 1983 - present; Franklin Flyer from 1968 - present; Okanogan County Heritage from 1963 - present; Oregon Historical Quarterly from September 1926 - present; Pacific Northwest Quarterly from 1936 - present; Pacific Northwesterner from 1956 - present; Sou’wester from 1966 - present; Trail Breakers from 1983 – present; Tri-City Genealogical Society Bulletin from April 1973 - present; Washington Historical Quarterly from 1906-1935. The library also has current issues available of some general genealogical journals including: Everton's Genealogical Helper, Family Tree Magazine, Family Chronicle. To find more information on these or other periodicals search the Library Journals Catalog. You may request a copy of an article from any of our journals by making an interlibrary loan request from your local library.

Pioneer Certificate Application Files

The State Archives has application files of people claiming ancestry to a Washington Pioneer (arrived in Washington prior to 1889). The files include copies of vital records and other records documenting ancestry and lineage. Indexes and crossed indexed to include the names of applicants and all ancestors.

School Censuses

The State Archives Regional Branches have school censuses which were used to count children attending Kindergarten through 12th grade in school districts throughout the state. The censuses were conducted at the school district level and date from the late 1800s to the early 1930s. These records do not exist for all districts and records for any one district often do not exist for the entire date span. Contact the State Archives Regional Branch representing the appropriate county.

Telephone Directories

The State Library has a large collection of telephone directories for major and small towns in Washington available for on site use only. The date spans of the directories range from a Seattle 1901 to the 1950s and 1960s to the present.

Territorial Assessment Rolls

The State Archives has microfilm copies of the assessments for all privately owned property in Washington Territory. The assessments show location of land (by legal description), names of owners, acreage, assessed value of land and improvements. Years available are 1857, 1860, 1874, and 1875. Contact either the State Government Archives or the nearest State Archives Regional Branch.

The State Library has assessments for 1874, and 1875 listed under the title : Assessment of Washington Territory, 1874-1875.

Territorial Censuses

Some territorial censuses are available through the Secretary of State's Digital Archives .

The State and Regional Archives have territorial census records. These censuses were taken intermittently in counties between 1857 – 1892. The censuses are not indexed and not every county conducted a census each year. Contact either the State Government Archives or the State Archives Regional Branch representing the appropriate county.

The Washington State Library has Washington Territorial Census Rolls 1859-1892 available on microfilm. These censuses vary by county and years. Some local genealogical societies have published indexes to Washington censuses which may be in the catalog and borrowed through interlibrary loan.

United States Census

The State and Regional Archives have select census data and indexes of the U.S. Federal Census. Contact the State Government Archives and the State Archives Regional Branch for information about this record. The official repository of the U. S. Federal Census is the National Archives and Records Administration .

The Washington State Library also has Federal census records of Washington State for years between 1850 – 1880 and 1900 - 1940.

Additional State or Local Genealogical Sources

Both the State and Regional Archives have additional records of interest to genealogists, such as institutional records. Contact either the State Government Archives or a Regional Branch for assistance, or click here to go the Archival Records Search page.

The State Library has some additional collections of materials of interest to genealogists: the Northwest Collection (materials documenting Washington State’s history and culture), the Regional Depository collection of federal publications (dating to the beginnings of our country), and the Depository collection of state agency publications. Further information on these collections is available at the State Library.