Seattle 1978

Seattle 1978

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Historical Research

Last Saturday I went to the 2011 Basics of Historical Research Workshop that I learned about through a post on Facebook.  They had me at "Historical Research Workshop" and then to learn it was very local to me and FREE, I could hardly wait!  There were genealogists, local history teachers and librarians all gathered in a lecture hall at Bellevue College for a little over three hours with three presentations about history research. 

And then we got to tour the Puget Sound Regional Archives Branch of the Washington State Archives
From Bellevue
Yep, I was giddy.  I interrupted  the tour to ask permission to photograph because I was so thrilled to be there.  Thankfully he even allowed flash photography. 
From Bellevue
Most people don't go back in to the climate controlled collections - you call/e-mail/fax/write and request materials that they will locate and let you view in their public area.
From Bellevue

Honestly, I didn't really know what to expect when I registered for the workshop but the event had my name written all over it.  I loved it.

As a supplement to the workshop we were e-mailed a very extensive list of research links

First Steps:

Washington State Archives

Washington State Library

Office of the Secretary of State

Washington History Day

Washington History Day Topic Guide

National History Day

Finding Primary Sources:

Government Archives:

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)

King County Archives

Seattle Municipal Archives

Seattle Public Schools Archives (link not working for me but found SPS Archives and Records Management)

Institutional Archives:

University of Washington Archives

Providence Archives, Seattle

Special Collections:

Washington State Historical Society

Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture

UW Libraries: Special Collections

WSU Libraries Manuscripts, Archives & Special Collections

Center for Pacific Northwest Studies

Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI)

Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center

Yakima Valley Museum

Library of Congress

Corporate Archives:

Society of American Archivists Directory of Corporate Archives in the U.S. and Canada


Washington State Library Newspaper Collection

University of Washington Libraries Microform & Newspaper Collections

Seattle Public Library

Tacoma Public Library

Washington State University Libraries Northwest History Database

Finding Secondary Sources:


Washington State Library

Seattle Public Library

University of Washington Libraries


Additional Online Research Resources:

• Search engine:




• Web search engine (Google, Yahoo, Bing) maps, images, videos

Google Scholar



Reading, Decoding, and Using Sources:

Reading, Writing, and Researching for History

University of Idaho Libraries: Repositories of Primary Sources: Online Guide to Archival Collections

Northwest Digital Archives: Finding Aids

Washington State Historical Records Survey: Online Guide to Archival Collections

Active Reading Strategies, The McGraw Center at Princeton University

Active Reading, Academic Skills Center at Dartmouth College

Active Reading, iStudy for Success at Penn State University

Office of the Secretary of State Additional Resources:

Washington State Constitution

Washington Territorial Timeline

History of Elections and Voting

Legislative Oral Histories

Historical Maps

Cities, Counties and Corporations

Legacy Project Oral and Written Histories

Michael S. Saunder
Washington State Archives
Western Regional Archivist

Thank you to Michael S. Saunders for permission to post this list! Except that I'm a little bit mad at you because you are responsible for me getting distracted by all these resources and me being unable to manage my time and complete my "to do" list. :-)


Matt said...

Oh, just shoot me. I wish I had known about this. Probably a good thing I didn't, because I might not have been able to get the time free. Maybe they'll throw this same hootenanny again someday? I'm glad you got to attend. You're a person who I know will make good use of this info.

Jana said...

Matt - I remember you posted about an evening with Paul Dorpat that I wished I known about ahead of time. And my same thoughts about maybe a bit of relief not having to make it fit in to the schedule.

One of these days maybe our paths will actually cross at some kind of history related event.

Rob Ketcherside said...

Thanks for sharing! I love the photos.

It's interesting how the list doesn't reflect my research patterns. I'll contact the UW special collections or muni archives if I have a question and in no hurry. Otherwise I have to be doing something incredibly niche or I'm totally desperate. -- There's just too much easily accessible digital stuff for it to be worth it to me right now to work the agencies a to z trying to pose the right question, especially when I'm fishing.

Jana said...

Thanks for the comment, Rob. I agree - the amount of data you can find on-line is incredible. And growing. But since not everything is digitized yet, it's great to know where to go for more information.

Many of these resources had digital databases that I wasn't aware of yet, so I'm still exploring those.

Unknown said...

Jana, I've found some amazing things at our regions archives. I hope I didn't sound dismissive of them. To prove your point -- a few weeks ago I found the remembrances of a man who lived a few blocks from me in Seattle (100 years go) in the database of the Alaska State Library (Which isn't on the list :).

What I really meant to say is that there are some amazing digital resources that are not on that list.

- Digitized Seattle Times (through Seattle Public Library from home)
- Other regional digitized papers through Americas Genealogy Bank (through Seattle Public Library from home)
- Other regional digitized papers from the Library of Congress' Chronicling America, such as the Seattle Republican and Seattle Star
- Other regional digitized papers through Newspaper Archive (through King County Library from home)
- Los Angeles Times and other digitized papers through UW library on site
- Digitized Sanborn maps through Seattle Public Library
- The entire
- Digitized Seattle Baist map at
- Paul Dorpat's books as PDFs on his site
- OCLC archive search through Library of Congress portal
- Directed searches and specific reference material at Google Books (histories, periodicals, legislative summaries, city directories, etc)
- King County GIS
- (I resisted subscribing for a long time but I'm getting my money's worth now)
- Seattle School District online history
- Lake View Cemetery and other internment databases

These are the sources that I go to "first" (long list) for my local history. I wonder what similar resources exist for other cities and counties in the state and region.

Jana said...

Thank you for adding to the resources.
The link he included for the Seattle Public Schools wasn't working for me but I found and linked another archive from the SPS.

I've resisted all these years, too. I use the library version when I'm there - not as convenient but a lot of fun. is definitely advertising more and I'm hoping they're bringing back "Who Do You Think You Are" on TV.

Unknown said...

(Not sure why it's showing me as unknown)

Digging through the list, I'm reminded of:

- WA State Corp search. Not strictly historic but can be very useful
- Seattle Public Library has great special collections too, including digitized stuff.
- The "Building for Learning" book on Sea Schools site is excellent.
- There are many local historical societies with great archives (Southwest Seattle, Rainier Valley, Snohomish, Broadway High etc etc)
- Where is Wing Luke and Densho?
- King County libraries catalog is worthy of mention.

Things on the list I should use more:
- WA State Library classics search
- WA State Library newspaper search
- Everything in "Reading, Using, Decoding"

Jana said...

Thanks again, Rob - I'm kicking myself because I accidentally left my materials I gathered from the workshop at work - but I know Densho and Wing Luke were refered to in one of the presentations so I don't know why the link wasn't included in the list we were sent.
(I wonder if there's an e-mail confirmation of registration so that your profile shows up?)