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History Day: Using the Seattle Municipal Archives Databases and Guides
The Seattle Municipal Archives has produced several online databases to assist researchers in locating needed records. With the exception of the photograph database, the Municipal Archives databases tell you what is in the archives, but do not provide the text of records in an online format. You will need to visit the archives to see the materials listed in the databases. Note that each database search page includes a link to tips for making searches more efficient and productive.
Records Series Database
The database also provides information about subjects in the records. For example, a search for "Police Department" finds 29 record series. However, only two of these series were created by the Police Department; the others, from different agencies, contain information about the Police Department.
From most record series, there is a link to a folder list, which provides file folder titles for the entire collection.
Subject Files Database
The Subject Files Database is very helpful for determining the quantity of material available on a specific subject. For example, a search on the word "Skagit" results in 267 folder titles; a search for "Ross Dam" brings up only 30 titles, illustrating the importance of narrowing one's topic.
It is helpful to remember when using this database that folder titles are those used by the creator of the records and the titles are not subject indexed using a controlled vocabulary. It is helpful to search under synonyms. For example, a search for "dumps" yields different results than "landfills."
Most of the documents in this collection date from the 1970s to the present. However, there are a significant number of older documents dating back as far as 1896.