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Guide to the Archives of the City of Seattle

Introduction

Seattle Archives Guide
A print version A Guide to the Archives of the City of Seattle was first published in 1988 as a deliverable for the National Historical Publications and Records Commission grant that initiated the Archives program. That first edition met with favorable reaction, and in the intervening years approximately 1000 copies were distributed to City of Seattle agencies, other governmental entities, university and public libraries, businesses, individual students and researchers, and other interested parties.

The Guide received the Society of American Archivists' C.F.W. Coker Award as the outstanding finding aid of 1988. This online edition mimics the structure of the original print edition; it has changed only in that it is considerably longer than the original.

How to Use the Guide
This Guide, like its first edition, provides brief records series-level descriptions of the holdings of the Seattle Municipal Archives. The structure of each entry includes up to seven data or information elements:

Record Series ID Number
Each record series is given a unique identification number:

  • The first two digits of the ID correspond to a City department or office. For instance, the first two digits in 2810-02 indicate the record is part of the Fire Department records.
  • The second two digits generally represent a functional unit or activity within the agency. For instance, the second two digits in 2810-02 indicates the record is part of the Fire Suppression function.
  • The final two digits are simply unique numbers assigned sequentially to a series within a unit or function. In this example the final two digits in 2810-02 indicates Fire Marshal Correspondence.
  • Exceptions to this scheme are made for series in the ranges 9100 (Annexed Cities), 9300 (Board and Commissions), 9500 (Special Committees), and 9700 (Public Corporations). In these cases the first four digits of the ID designate a specific entity. For instance, the first four digits in 9312-01 indicate the records are from the Bumbershoot Festival Commission.

Records Series Title
A brief title given to a single series of records reflecting either record type, function, or project name.

Dates
Inclusive date span for the respective record series.

Size
The physical amount of material found in the series, generally expressed in cubic feet, volumes, reels (microfilm, motion picture film, or reel-to-reel audio tape), or items.

Description
A brief description of the types of records, function of the records, and/or subject matter content covered by the records series.

Location
The records described in this Guide are housed primarily at the Seattle Municipal Archives. However, some City records were acquired by the University of Washington prior to creation of the SMA. While many of these records have been returned to SMA, some are still in the custody of the University. A code is used to identify the physical location of the records described. Codes include:

  • SMA: Seattle Municipal Archives
  • UW: University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections

Finding Aids
If a finding aid other than this Guide is available, it is indicated following the descriptive entry. The most prevalent entries are:

  • Box List
    Generally used for record series that have a numerical or chronological arrangement, it includes only the span numbers or dates per box.
  • Container List
    A general subject or record type listing for each container. This is less detailed than a folder list.
  • Folder List
    A compilation of folder titles for each box in a records series, generally sorted electronically to provide an alphabetical listing.
  • Index
    Generally referring to a subject and/or name index for the specific record series.
  • Item List
    A listing of each item in a records series.
  • Volume List
    A listing of volume titles or inclusive date spans.