Frequently Asked Questions About the Archives

How do I find a photograph of my house?
There are several resources you can use to locate a photograph of your house. The best place to start is the Puget Sound Regional Branch of the State Archives (phone: 425-564-3940).

How do I get a copy of a photograph?
You can acquire the highest resolution scan of an image by clicking on the "download best available digital file" link in the photo record. If an image does not have a "best available" link, or if the best available is not large enough for your needs, we can create a higher resolution scan for $8. Please email us with the item number(s) you are interested in. Note that most photographs created after 1998 are born digital and cannot be made bigger than the best available image.

May I use a photo I found in the photo database?
The photographs are public records and are available for public use. When using our photos for publication or display, please cite the source as "Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives" and include the item number of the image.

Can anyone use the Archives?
Yes, the Archives is open to the public. It is best if you make an appointment through email or by calling us at 206-233-7807. For more information, see Visiting the Archives.

Are the records online?
Digital copies of photographs and selected maps are available online. There is also a selection of topical documents digitized as part of our Digital Document Libraries and Online Exhibits, and some photos, documents, and maps are featured on our Flickr page. Other records are not available in digital format online, as there are millions of pages in the Municipal Archives. Indexes to holdings provide file and document titles. You must visit the Archives to view the documents.

Can I check things out of the Archives?
No. Archives materials are non-circulating and must be used in our research room.

What if I live too far away to visit the Archives?
Archives staff can spend up to one hour doing research for you. Photocopies are fifteen cents per page plus postage.

Where do I go for genealogical information?
See the King County Archives' genealogical research page for information on where to find various types of genealogical records. While the Municipal Archives does not have genealogical information such as birth and marriage records, our holdings may include employment-related information on people who worked for the City.

I'm interested in the history of a park. Where should I start?
The Don Sherwood park history files (available online) provide an excellent summary of a park's creation and use. If you need more information, we have more records here in the archives.

What other local history resources are there?
If your research topic falls outside of the scope of Seattle city government, you will want to explore the many other local history resources.

For other questions about using and citing the Archives, see Visiting the Archives.