About the Seattle Municipal Archives

Location

The Seattle Municipal Archives is located on the third floor of Seattle's City Hall at 600 Fourth Avenue in downtown Seattle. The building is between Fourth and Fifth Avenues and James and Cherry Streets. The Archives is co-located with the Office of the City Clerk.

Hours

The Archives is an agency of City government and is open during regular business hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday). The research room closes at 4:45 p.m. each day. The Archives is closed for all City holidays.

Access Policy

The records held by the Seattle Municipal Archives are open to the public and available for research use during business hours. To ensure the most efficient use of the records and staff time, researchers are encouraged to make appointments when requesting access to the Archives. Please see Visiting the Archives for more information about doing research on-site at the SMA.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Archives is to support the goals of the City of Seattle and the citizens of the City by identifying, acquiring, arranging, describing, preserving, and making accessible - for the use of City agencies, scholars, students, and the general public - the records of enduring value created or received by City agencies and elected officials.

Archives Staff

  • Scott Cline, City Archivist
  • Anne Frantilla, Deputy City Archivist
  • Julie Irick, Assistant City Archivist, Photo Archives
  • Julie Kerssen, Assistant City Archivist
  • Sarah Shipley, Digital Asset Manager

History of the Archives Program

The Seattle Municipal Archives was established in 1985 with a two-year grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). The Archives was a program of the City Clerk Division of the Office of the Comptroller from 1985 through 1992. A City Charter amendment, which took effect January 1, 1993, transferred the City Clerk and the Municipal Archives to the Legislative Department.

In 1988, as part of the NHPRC grant, the Municipal Archives published A Guide to the Archives of the City of Seattle. The Guide was awarded the Society of American Archivists' C.F.W. Coker Prize as the year's outstanding work in the area of archival description. The Guide is available online with up-to-date information on holdings in the Archives.

In 2004, the Archives moved into a new facility in the new City Hall. Researchers have access to a large research area with a view of Elliott Bay. The large storage area, with moveable shelving for maximum storage space, enables the Archives to bring collections back to the Archives that previously were stored at different locations in the area due to lack of space. The new storage area also has a freezer, ensuring a stable environment for long-term preservation of film.

Holdings

The Municipal Archives holdings document the history, development, and activities of the agencies and elected officials of the City of Seattle. Strengths of the records include those documenting engineering, parks, urban planning, the legislative process and elected officials. Holdings include over 6,000 cubic feet of textual records; 3,000 maps and drawings, 3,000 audiotapes; hundreds of hours of motion picture film; and over 1.5 million photographic images of City projects and personnel.

The Archives is open to the public. The holdings of the Archives are public records and are managed in accordance with the Revised Codes of Washington public records law and public disclosure law. For more information on holdings, please refer to the various indexes and guides.