Washington Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections

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This entry was originally written by Dwight A. Radford for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
Washington sil.png
the Washington Family History Research series.
History of Washington
Washington Vital Records
Census Records for Washington
Background Sources for Washington
Washington Maps
Washington Land Records
Washington Probate Records
Washington Court Records
Washington Tax Records
Washington Cemetery Records
Washington Church Records
Washington Military Records
Washington Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
Washington Archives, Libraries, and Societies
Washington Immigration
Ethnic Groups of Washington
Washington County Resources
Map of Washington


Periodicals for the state of Washington can be of great genealogical value as they not only contain historical articles but often index cemeteries, church records, and censuses. Otherwise unknown Bible records and letters are additionally included in such periodicals. The Washington State Genealogical Society website has links to societies and their publications statewide. The Washington State Historical Society publishes Columbia magazine, which publishes a wide range of articles from a historical perspective. The historical society has an index for the articles published in Columbia.


All extant Washington newspapers are on microfilm at the Washington State Library in Olympia. These are available through interlibrary loan. The library's website has a catalog to its holdings that can be accessed by county, and links to current newspapers with some indexes to selected newspapers.

Washington State University has a 'Pacific Northwest Clippings Collection' online that consists of articles taken from newspapers from about 1900 to about 1942. Some 10,000 images have been digitized.

The Auburn branch of the King County Library System [1]has newspapers for the City from the late 1800's to about 1970's on microfilm. Paper copies of many of the newspapers are also available for research at the White River Valley Historical Society [2], located next door to the library.

The King County Library System [3] has Seattle newspapers available on microfilm.

The Tacoma Public Library [4] has Tacoma area newspapers available on microfilm.


Several major historical and genealogical collections are held by repositories throughout the state. The University of Washington has a large holding of manuscript collections that deal with such subjects as Washington politics and government, economic history, forestry, railroads, coal mines and mining, frontier life of Washington Territory, ethnic history, and labor history. These manuscript collections are open to outside use by permission. An inventory of the manuscript collections has been compiled by name and subject.

The University of Washington's 'Northwest Collection' holds material on such regional topics as northwest Native Americans, anthropology, history, and economic and social conditions of the Pacific Northwest. Special collections include diaries of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century explorers of the region and various western states documents. The 'Northwest Collection' also includes periodicals, maps, pamphlets, and scrapbooks. Some of these can be obtained through a limited interlibrary loan. A subject index to regional periodicals and newspapers is available.

The Washington State University Library Manuscript Division in Pullman houses a large collection of manuscripts relating to eastern Washington and the Palouse Country, including papers of early business and farming pioneers. The Eastern Washington Historical Society, located in Spokane, has collections relating to eastern Washington and the Inland Empire, including the founding of Spokane and other communities, mining, agriculture, and hydrology. Gonzaga University in Spokane holds records relating to Jesuit missionary activity in the northwest and papers of local pioneers. The Whitman College Library in Walla Walla has papers of local pioneers with an emphasis on missionaries connected with the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.

Several genealogical collections are available through the FHL. These include family records of pioneers as well as a large collection of compiled family Bibles and a collection entitled 'Family Records and Reminiscences of Washington Pioneers prior to 1891,' both collections by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).