Select Page

Research in the Evergreen State

It’s called the Evergreen State, this amazing piece of America in the Pacific Northwest, and for someone flying in the way The Legal Genealogist did this week for the Northwest Genealogy Conference 2015 in Arlington, Washington, it’s easy to see why.

1280px-USA_Washington_location_map.svgFrom the air — and on the ground — even after a record-breaking heat-wave this summer — Washington State is definitely green — at least western Washington is (eastern Washington less so).

Eighteenth in size among the states, 13th in population, known for its timber and its aircraft industry, home of the Kennewick Man and the Space Needle, Washington State is also home to some truly amazing genealogical resources.

The host society for the currently-ongoing Northwest Genealogy Conference is the Stillaguamish Valley Genealogical Society in Arlington. A vibrant active local society serving Snohomish County and the Arlington, Washington area, it has a library with more than 5,000 genealogical and historical books, microfilm and microfiche sets, that serves as a depot for historical information pertaining to north Snohomish County and the Stillaguamish Valley, and its native populations and early settlers. And it offers Internet access to free genealogy web sites. Our library is a depot for historical information pertaining to north Snohomish County and the Stillaguamish Valley, and its native populations and early settlers.

Down the road in Seattle is the Seattle regional branch of the National Archives. It has extensive microfilm holdings of value for genealogy research, among them:

• Federal population censuses for all States, 1790-1930 (including indexes for 1880, 1900, 1910, and 1920);

• military service records;

• pension and bounty land warrant applications;

• some passenger arrival and naturalization records; and

• records relating to the Five Civilized Tribes.

And it’s the regional repository for federal court records for Washington, Oregon and Idaho. So to say NARA Seattle is worth a visit is an understatement.

The Washington State Archives has wonderful collections of information for genealogists ranging from territorial court records to vital records to photographic collections– and that includes some truly amazing digitized records we can all access sitting at home at 3 a.m. in our bunny slippers.

I’ve already written about the unexpected treasures of the library of the Seattle Genealogical Society, with its amazing holdings from throughout the United States.

But I was absolutely blown away by one reference source I just happened across on the website of the Washington State Genealogical Society, freely available to anyone who has even a smidgen of interest in research here in the Evergreen State. It’s called the Washington State Genealogical Resource Guide, originally created by Kathleen Allen O’Connor assisted by a grant from the Washington State Genealogical Society and now maintained by Charles Hansen.

This guide consists of downloadable PDF files for every county in Washington State with a comprehensive overview of the resources available for research of all kinds. Each county’s PDF file begins with a brief history of the county, its boundaries, county seat and local resources like the Chambers of Commerce, courthouses, health departments and the like. It then adds information about local genealogical and historical societies and libraries.

Then the file lists a wide variety of bibliographic resources for the county, ranging from atlases, gazeteers and maps all the way through to published sources for tax records. Published vital records, county and city histories and so much more are included in the lists.

The file for each county ranges in length depending on the variety of resources to be found there. The PDF file for King County, for example, where Seattle is located, is 60 pages long; for Yakima County, it’s 23 pages; for Okinogan County, it’s 11 pages.

This is a truly comprehensive and amazing resource for anyone with Washington State research to be done. So check it out — the Evergreen State has a lot to offer.


Image: Wikimedia commons.

Print Friendly