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 going to "Download as" on the right side of the catalog record and choosing "original" from the drop-down menu. If an image 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 larger than the image available on the website.

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. If a rights holder other than the City of Seattle exists, that information will appear in the Notes field.

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) 684-8353. For more information, see Visiting the Archives or check out our short Visiting the Archives e-learning course.

Are the records online?
Digital copies of many of SMA's photographs, maps, moving images, and audio recordings are available on our Digital Collections site. Selected documents are also available on the site and in our Digital Document Libraries and Online Exhibits. Most of our textual 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 these documents. See our Searching Collections in the Seattle Municipal Archives e-learning course to learn more about how to find and access our records.

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 our guide to genealogical research. 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. See our parks research guide for tips on how to get started.

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.

Municipal Archives, City Clerk

Anne Frantilla, City Archivist
Address: 600 Fourth Avenue, Third Floor, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 94728, Seattle, WA, 98124-4728
Phone: (206) 684-8353

The Office of the City Clerk maintains the City's official records, provides support for the City Council, and manages the City's historical records through the Seattle Municipal Archives. The Clerk's Office provides information services to the public and to City staff.