Home Page This Department
Seattle City Clerk's Home Page Seattle City Clerk's Home Page Seattle City Clerk's About Us Page Seattle City Clerk's Contact Us Page
Online Information Resources
Search Collections Exhibits and Education Seattle Facts About the Archives

Overview of Collections
Search Archives Collections
Search Legislative Records
Selected Collection Guides
Research Tips & Tools
Oral Histories
Other Local History Resources

Guide to the Archives of the City of Seattle

Record Group 6000
Personnel Department

The Personnel Department was created in 1979. It administers the employee selection system, labor relations and negotiations, benefit programs, and the classification/compensation plan. The Department also manages employee records, implements affirmative action, and coordinates other personnel related programs. The City Charter of 1896 created the Civil Service system and established the Civil Service Commission and Civil Service Department to administer the system. The reorganization in 1979 abolished the Civil Service Department, replacing it with the Personnel Department, and established the Civil Service Commission as a separate City agency. In 1997, the Personnel Department was incorporated as a division within the Executive Services Department. In 2001, a departmental reorganization reestablished Personnel as a separate and independent department. The bulk of records in this record group are from the old Civil Service Department.

Annual Reports

1.4 cubic feet

Annual narrative, statistical, and financial report of the Civil Service Department and Civil Service Commission. Includes reports of the secretary to the Commission and the Chief Examiner; exam results; dismissals and investigations; engineers licenses issued; digests of amendments to Civil Service rules and Official Opinions; and reports of the Public Employment Office.


Subject Files

8.0 cubic feet

Correspondence, memoranda, investigations, reports, surveys, newspaper clippings, examination reports, classification studies and reports, legislation, and rules. Includes records relating to Civil Defense, "subversive organizations," and loyalty oaths.


General Files

113 reels

Appointments, separations, general correspondence, applications, employee lists, reports, payrolls, and publications. Arranged alphabetically for each year.


Personnel Director's Records

10.2 cubic feet

Files of the Personnel Director, primarily from the tenures of Susan Pavlou, Everett Rosmith, Dwight Imanaka, and John D. Okamoto. Includes correspondence, memoranda, reports and studies, and working papers relating the Affirmative Action, CETA, labor relations, city employee salaries, training programs, classification and compensation, insurance, and other personnel issues.

Folder List

Civil Service Laws and Rules

0.4 cubic foot

Published laws and rules governing the City's civil service system.


Department Head Confirmation Records

3.4 cubic feet

Records relating to the search, evaluation, selection, and appointment of candidates for department director positions. Includes appointments, oaths of office, resumes and references, background checks, search committee records, organization charts, public disclosure forms, and other materials related to searches. Arranged alphabetically by department.

Folder List

Boards and Commissions Reports

3.0 cubic feet

Standardized reports filed by boards, commissions, committees, and task forces. Includes authorizing information such as dates established, ordinance authority, and appointment authority; administrative details such as membership requirements, terms, meeting dates, officers, subcommittees, members names, and attendance records; and program information such as current activities, planning for the following year, and historical information. Reports are arranged alphabetically by entity.

Folder List


49 reels

Applications for City positions. Include position, applicant's name, address, citizenship, birthplace and date, age, marital status, sex, height and weight, work history, and references. Arranged alphabetically by year.


Civil Service Examinations

2.8 cubic feet

Copies of Civil Service examinations given to establish employment registers. Arranged chronologically.


Examination Statistics

1 volume

Compilation of Civil Service examination statistics including dates, job title, type of exam, number of applications rejected, number of people examined, number failing to appear, and numbers of passed and failed.


Board of Examiners Correspondence

1 volume

Correspondence from the Board of Examiners relating to applications for examination, exam results, and notices of examination dates.


Register of Eligibles for Labor Service

1 volume

Register of individuals eligible to work as laborers on Seattle's public works projects. Includes name, address, ward, age, type of work sought, and general examination average and rank. Also includes date certified for employment, employing department, position, wage, and other comments. This register was replaced by a card file in 1905.


Register of Applicants and Eligibles

1 volume

A register of applicants for positions in the fire and police departments. Includes name, address, age, marital status, nativity, height, weight, and number of dependents for each applicant. Also includes information on civil service examination scores and rank, certification of employment, probationary appointments, separation from service, application and examination for promotion, and general remarks. A card file system replaced the register in 1905.


Appointments and Separations

2.4 cubic feet

Notices of Appointment, Reports of Employment, Reports of Discharge, and Reports of Separation documenting personnel actions. Information generally includes name of employee, job title, date of action, wage paid for appointments, and reasons for discharges. Also includes a few transcripts and summaries of hearings over disputed discharges. Arranged by department and then chronologically.


Employment Bulletins

4.4 cubic feet

The Bulletins are official job announcements published by the Personnel Department. They include hiring department, job title and description, starting date, salary, and information about the application process. Job titles usually are the same as the official City position classifications.


Personnel Cards

23.5 cubic feet

The Personnel Cards document employment and personnel actions for regular and temporary employees of the City of Seattle. All cards include employee name, date of birth, City position, date appointed to City service, department, salary, and personnel actions including date of the action. Regular employee cards also include the employee's address. Personnel actions can include, but are not limited to, appointments, reappointments, termination, suspension, reclassification, transfers, salary increases, and efficiency ratings. Cards are filed alphabetically. Bulk dates are 1910-1945.


Fire Department Exams and Correspondence

3.6 cubic feet

The Seattle Fire Department Exams date from 1955 to 1991 and include exam questions and answers for all positions (Firefighter, Lieutenant, Captain, Battalion Chief, Fireboat Engineer, and Fireboat Pilot), as well as promotional exams and women’s pre-recruit program exams. After 1978, only firefighter exams are included. Information regarding written and physical tests as well as other means of evaluating applicants are included. Exam instructions, correspondence, and number of exams taken are included, as well as information on applicants taking exams, such as names and sometimes scores. Also included are permits for use of various spaces in which exams were given, reports and correspondence relating to protests filed in connection with examinations, job notices and requirements, and affidavits of exam proctors. Correspondence with the Civil Service Commission is also included as well as excerpts from Commission minutes.

Folder List

Affirmative Action Reports

3.2 cubic feet

Reports include employment data on race, ethnicity, gender, and disability. Includes reports titled Race and Sex Summaries by Category and Department; Race and Sex Characteristics by Department; and Handicapped and Veteran Profiles.

Container List

Equal Employment Opportunity Reports

0.4 cubic foot

Employment data reports filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission showing the number of City employees by gender, race, and ethnicity, and by salary within job categories. Known as State and Local Government Information (EEO-4) Reports, they are filed at the end of the federal fiscal year.


Affirmative Action Task Force Records

0.2 cubic foot

Minutes, agendas, background materials, and work products of the Affirmative Action Task Force. The group included representatives from departments including Women's Rights, Human Rights, Police, and Health and Human Services, as well as from the mayor's office. It worked on issues including anti-harassment training, accommodation for employees with disabilities, and diversity plans.

Folder List
Finding Aid

Labor Commissioner's Correspondence

2 volumes

Correspondence from the Labor Commissioner to businesses seeking temporary and permanent laborers, individuals requesting employment, and persons from out of state gathering information regarding employment possibilities in Seattle. The City Charter created the position of Labor Commissioner in the Civil Service Department and established the Public Employment Office. The Public Employment Office maintained applications of individuals seeking work and employers seeking workers, and acted as a clearinghouse for employment. The Labor Commissioner, who was also Chief Examiner, managed the office and also maintained labor statistics for the City.

Finding Aid

King-Snohomish Manpower Consortium Records

1.8 cubic feet

Correspondence, reports, minutes, policies and procedures, program proposals, sub-Grant agreements and modifications, and audit material relating to City beneficiary programs of the KSMC. Records relate especially to the Seattle School District, desegregation training, the Central Area Motivation Program, and the City's Public Service Employment Program.


Journeyman Plumbers Examination Board Minutes

2 volumes

Proceedings of board established in 1926 to examine plumbers. Includes lists of names, test scores, and individuals who passed exam.


Meat Salesmen Examination Board Minutes

1 volume

Proceedings of Board established in 1931 to administer examinations to individuals seeking a meat salesman license. Includes lists of people who were examined and their scores.


Refrigeration License Examination Board Minutes

1 volume

Proceedings of Board established in 1951 to administer examinations for the various classes identified ad requiring refrigeration licenses for employment. Minutes include lists of people passing examinations and those who failed or did not have the requisite work experience to qualify for the exam.


Massage Board Records

0.4 cubic foot

Correspondence, applications, reports, policy and procedures, draft legislation, and examination results relating to the licensing and monitoring of masseurs and masseuses.


Massage Operators Examination Board Minutes

1 volume

Proceedings of meetings of the Massage Operators Examination Board. Includes results of examinations, discussion and decisions on appeals, and policies regarding licensing.


Digital Photographs

334 digital image files

Content includes City-Wide Service Awards for 20-35+ years of service as a City Employee. Elected and appointed officials such as Mayor Greg Nickels, Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske, DoIT Director Bill Schrier, FFD Director Brenda Bauer, City Light Superintendent Jorge Carrasco, and Director of Executive Administration Ken Nakatsu are featured in many of the photos.

6008-01 in Photograph Index
Finding Aid

6010-00: Civil Service Commission

The Civil Service Commission was established in 1896 to oversee the Civil Service Department, which administered the City's personnel system, including the fire and police forces, laborers, inspectors, and clerical, electrical, and library workers. The commissioners classified city services and employees, coordinated and administered physical, medical, and competence examinations, dealt with appointments, promotions, and removals, and conducted investigations in the event of an employee appeal. The years brought new employment issues, including those of wartime employment conditions and women in the workforce.

During the Commission's early years, it faced some opposition; in 1912, charged with wastefulness and inefficiency, the Commission underwent an investigation by the City Council. Subsequently, a 1917 report reclassified city services and employees. Other difficult times in the Commission's history included the first and second World Wars, as well as the Great Depression; budgets were often tight, and many city employees joined the armed services or found business opportunities in other industries. In 1937, the City's services were again reclassified.

In 1979, the City's personnel system was reorganized with the creation of a Personnel Department independent of the Commission. The Commission was reorganized with jurisdiction to hear employee appeals relating to demotions, terminations, suspensions, certain lay-offs, and violations of personnel rules. Three members, serving staggered three-year terms, comprise the Commission. One member is appointed by the mayor, one by the City Council, and one is elected by City employees.


17 volumes and 0.4 cubic foot

Proceedings of Commission meetings. Includes hearings on dismissals, Commission actions on various requests (e.g. leave of absence, reinstatements), applications and protests regarding classifications, and results of examinations.

Volume List


2.2 cubic feet

Correspondence and reports from the Civil Service Commission. Includes reports on personnel actions, answers to requests for information, and commission findings.


Incoming Correspondence

0.4 cubic foot

Correspondence and reports relating to Commission activities and finances, policies and procedures, and personnel actions.


Legal Opinions

0.4 cubic foot

Opinions of Corporation Counsel requested by the Civil Service Department regarding especially policies and rules for employment in the City's civil service. Topics include (but not exclusive to) age requirements, CSC authority, examination rules, veteran preference, temporary employment, sex equity in hiring, and retirement. Arranged chronologically.



0.2 cubic foot

Report of findings and determinations in hearings before the Commission. Includes register of hearings with date, appellant, charge, and commission action.



3 volumes

The Civil Service Commission compiled these scrapbooks of news clippings on subjects relating to employment with the city government during the Depression until just after World War II. The clippings provide information on civil service exams, employee training, job reclassification, salary changes, and retirement. The activities of particular jobs and changes in their requirements are covered, including police, firemen, nurses, lifeguards, and transit workers. Activities of the city are reflected through information on the City Council, elections, city budget and taxes, Charter Amendments, and Resolutions. The articles reflect wider historical events of the times. During the Depression city jobs were receiving hundreds of applicants. Articles during World War II show issues were job security for those drafted, a shortage of workers, and women increasingly in the workplace.

Finding Aid

Policy Statements

0.2 cubic foot

Summaries of Commission policies extracted from Commission minutes.

Index with Records