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Common Research Subjects

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Genealogy
Birth, Death, Marriage, Naturalization, Probate, Census....

Washington State & Local Government
State and Local Government offices, Governor, Legislature....

Legislative History/Legislative Intent
Legislative Committee files....

Voting & Election records
Voter registers, election returns, poll books

Court Records
State Supreme Court, Appeals Courts, Superior Courts (Civil, Criminal, Probate), other courts....

Washington State Constitutional Issues
Legal issues, State Supreme Court records....

Old Corporations (Stock Search)

Property Records
Patents (Homestead Claims), Deeds, Water Rights, Mining, Assessment Records....

School Records
K-12, higher ed. (selected), old student censuses, School District records (does not include student transcripts or other student records exempted from public disclosure)

Environmental Issues
Land-use, ecology, waterways, air, forests, mines....

Veterans' Records (Washington State only)
Military Discharge records, Veteran Bonus Applications, etc....

Other Topics in Washington State History

Not sure who to contact? Feel free to contact any office for assistance, state or regional.



Genealogy

Birth and Death Records--prior to July 1, 1907

Birth and Death records were collected by county auditors prior to July 1, 1907. Contact the regional branch representing the appropriate county.

(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 and Death Records--July 1, 1907, forward

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

Contact either the nearest Regional Branch or the State Government Archives to access statewide indexes to birth and death records. The index to state birth records covers 1907-1919 (contact the state Health Department for later dates), and the index to state death records covers 1907-1997.

Please note: Copies of Birth and Death certificates dating from July 1, 1907 may only be obtained through the State Department of Health, Center for Health Statistics.

Marriage and Divorce records--pre-1968

The State Archives Regional Branches have multiple types of marriage records that were filed with county auditors, dating from county formation to 1968, including Marriage Returns, Marriage Registers, Applications, Licenses, Affidavits, and Certificates. Additionally, the Regional Archives can provide assistance in locating divorce records from this period. Contact the regional branch representing the appropriate county.

Marriage and Divorce--1968 forward

Beginning in 1968, the State Department of Health assumed the official duty of recording Marriages and Divorces for the state.

Statewide indexes to marriage and divorce records, covering 1968-1997, are available throughout the State Archives system. Contact either the State Government Archives or a Regional Branch for assistance.

Please note: Copies of Marriage and Divorce Certificates from 1968 forward may only be obtained through the State Department of Health, Center for Health Statistics.

Additional marriage records: The State Archives Regional Branches may have additional marriage records filed with counties from 1968 forward, such as Applications, Licenses, Affidavits, and (county) Certificates. Contact the regional branch representing the appropriate county.

Naturalization, Probate

Naturalization, Probate, and other court records are collected on a county-by-county basis. Contact the regional branch representing the appropriate county.

Census Records

Territorial Censuses
Both the State and Regional Archives have territorial census records. These censuses were taken in intermittent years in counties existing between 1857 and 1892 (Washington attained statehood in 1889). The censuses are not indexed and not every county conducted a census each year. Contact either the State Government Archives or the relevant Regional Branch for assistance.

School Censuses
School censuses 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 mostly 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 regional branch representing the appropriate county.

United States Census
Although the U. S. Census is a federal record, select census data and indexes may also be available at the State Government Archives and at the State Archives Regional Branches. It is worth inquiring with either the State Government Archives or the relevant Regional Branch for more information. The official repository of the U. S. census is the National Archives and Records Administration.

Other types of census records
Other censuses and census data, focusing on either counties, cities, or institutions, may also be available through the State Archives. Contact either either the State Government Archives or the relevant Regional Branch.

Additional State or Local Genealogical Sources

Both the State and Regional Archives have additional records of interest to genealogists. Contact either the State Government Archives or a Regional Branch for assistance.



Washington State & Local Government

State Agencies, Governors' Papers, Legislature - Contact the State Records section.

Local Government entities (counties, cities, school districts, other districts...) -
Contact the regional branch representing the appropriate county.


Voting & Election Records

The State Archives has many records having to do with voting and elections. Voter registers and poll books, when available, are an excellent source of genealogical information. Contact the regional branch representing the appropriate county for more information.

Election records are also available for statewide campaigns--including nomination certificates, returns from primary and general elections, certificates of elections, and electoral college nominations. Public Disclosure Commission records are also available, including campaign finance reports for Washington candidates for the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives (select years only, from 1974 forward). Contact the State Records section for more information about these and other election records.

For current election information, visit the Secretary of State's Elections Page or vote.wa.gov.


Court Records

State Supreme Court Records - Contact the State Records Section

Appeals Courts, Superior Courts (Civil, Criminal, Probate), lower courts - Contact the regional branch representing the relevant county or district.

Washington State Constitutional Issues

State Constitutional Issues in general - Contact the State Records section

State Supreme Court Records - Contact the State Records section


Old Corporations (Stock Search)

Contact the State Records section


Property & Land Records

Land Patents (Homestead Claims), Deeds, Water Rights, Mining Claims, Assessment Records, etc... -
These records are all filed at the county level. Contact the regional branch representing the appropriate county.

NOTE: Homestead records are federal in origin, but it is possible to research a completed homestead claim using Patent records. A Patent is a type of deed by which the U. S. government transfers public property to private individuals. When a person satisfies the obligation of a homestead claim, the federal government transfers the property's title to the individual using a Patent. Like deeds, Patents are filed with the county Auditor in the county where the land is located. Contact the regional branch representing the appropriate county.

Counties recorded notices of water rights filed prior to the establishment of the state water right permit system in 1917. These notices were not necessarily honored under the state water right system. Additionally, counties record state-issued certificates of water right issued under the state permit system. In researching water rights, researchers should also reference the state water right records of the Washington State Department of Ecology.

State lands, parks, natural resources

Contact the State Records section


School Records

K-12, higher ed. (selected), old student censuses, school district records, etc... -
These records are generated and collected at a local level. Contact the regional branch representing the appropriate county.

Statewide issues, state agency or legislative records relative to education - Contact the State Records section.


Environmental Issues (Land-use, ecology, waterways, air, forests, mines, etc...)

Statewide issues, state agency records, legislative records - Contact the State Records section.

Local issues, local government records - Contact the regional branch representing the appropriate county.


Veterans' Records (Washington State only)

Military Discharge records - These are discharge papers ("DD 214's") filed with county auditors, dating from WW II forward. Contact the regional branch representing the appropriate county.

WW I & II, Korean, and Vietnam War Bonus Applications - Contact the State Records section.

Territorial Muster Rolls - Contact the State Records section.


Other Topics in Washington State History

State history - Contact the State Records section

Local History - Contact the regional branch representing the appropriate county