From the Supplement to the 119th Annual Meeting

The National Archives in Seattle: A National Resource in a Local Setting

Steven Edwards, December 2004

Seattle is home to one of the regional offices of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The Seattle regional archives holds over 34,000 cubic feet of historical records, including photographs, maps, and architectural drawings, from nearly one hundred federal agencies and federal courts. The records date from the 1850's to the 1990's and reflect the activities of federal agencies in the Pacific Northwest. For example, Bureau of Indian Affairs records record the interaction of the federal government with recognized Indian tribes located in Washington, Idaho, and Oregon. US Coast Guard and US Customs records document maritime history, such as vessel arrivals and clearances, vessel inspections, and merchant marine activity.

Records of the Bureau of Land Management and US Forest Service document changes to the land and environment through land sales, logging, and recreational activities. US Army Corps of Engineers records document construction of coastal artillery forts, construction and operation of locks and dams, and improvements to inland waterways and harbors. Immigration and Naturalization records document the impact of the Chinese Exclusion Act on individuals of Chinese descent. 

A large microfilm collection supplements our holdings of original records. In addition to census records, we acquire microfilm copies of records held at the National Archives in Washington, DC and College Park, MD and at other regional archives that complement our holdings or are deemed to be of interest to local historians and researchers.

Information about NARA holdings is becoming available through the Archival Research Catalogue (ARC), an on-line catalog of NARA's nationwide holdings.  Currently, ARC holds information for approximately 30% of NARA's holdings, but work continues with a goal of 80% of holdings described by 2008. ARC can be accessed at NARA's website at www.archives.gov.

NARA's regional archives in Seattle is located at 6125 Sand Point Way NE. Bus service is available via Metro bus routes 74 and 75. The facility is open 7:45 a.m.-4:15 p.m., Monday–Friday, with extended hours on the first and second Tuesday and Saturday of each month. Researchers wishing to use textual records are encouraged to contact us in advance to make sure the records are available. We can be reached at 206-336-5115 or via e-mail at seattle.archives@ nara.gov.

We encourage you to visit us and make use of our holdings for we are truly a national resource in a local setting.

— Steven Edwards is a member of the Local Arrangements Committee and is the Regional Administrator for the Pacific Alaska Region of the National Archives and Records Administration.