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An alphabetical listing of various types of records frequently requested from the King County Archives. Many of these records are held elsewhere, and some of these links will take you directly to the repository that holds them.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


A

Information on obtaining adoption records is available through King County Adoption Services.

General information:

 

Boundary Review Board

 

Yesler Building, Room 240
400 Yesler Way
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 296-6800

 

Maps and information:

 

Department of Permitting and Environmental Review

 

King County legislation about annexations:

 

King County Archives

An apostille (external link) is a document that authenticates the signatures of notaries or state officials on vital records documents (for example, birth, death, or marriage certificates, or divorce decrees) that are being submitted for foreign use (for example, foreign-born adoptions, marriages overseas, foreign citizenship purposes, etc.)

To receive an apostille, you must obtain a certified copy of the vital records document from the county of origin or the State Department of Health, and then submit the certified copy together with the filing fee of $15.00 per document to the Office of the Washington Secretary of State:

Secretary of State
Corporates Division
Apostille and Certificate Program
801 Capitol Way South
Olympia, WA 98504

Instructions can be found online (external link), or call the Apostille and Certificate Program at (360) 725-0344.

See Recordings. Between 1854 and 1969, the King County Auditor recorded and maintained documents submitted for public record in King County. In 1969, when King County adopted its home-rule charter, the office of the County Auditor was abolished and the recording functions were assigned to the newly-formed King County Recorder's Office.

B


1951-present (U.S.):

 

U.S. Bankruptcy Court (external link)

 

Western Washington District
700 Stewart St, Room 6301
Seattle, WA 98101-1290
(206) 370-5200

Access to electronic files (PACER) (external link)

 

1889-1950 (Washington State):

 

National Archives and Records Administration (external link), Pacific Alaska Region, Seattle

 

1870-1877 (King County):


King County Archives 
Case files for eleven bankruptcy cases from the 1870's. The cases were administered under the Bankruptcy Act of 1867 (repealed 1878).

 

Bankruptcy law research guide (external link)

Copies of birth certificates may be obtained from King County Vital Statistics.

 

Researching Building History in Seattle and King County (PDF file) is a comprehensive guide, written in collaboration between the Seattle Public Library and the King County Archives.

 

For historic information and photos of a house or other building in King County, the best place to start is with the King County Assessor's Property Cards , available through the Washington State Archives Puget Sound Branch. See also the King County Assessor's Property Cards, the Archives' guide to accessing and understanding these records.

Businesses operating in King County come under the jurisdiction of State, County, and, where applicable, City regulations. The location of the business, as well as the nature and scope of the business, determines what types of business licenses are required. See King County Business Licensing for information.

See the Washington State Department of Licensing (external link) for business [trade] name registration, changes or updates (DBA).

C

Certificates of No Marriage are filed with the Recorder. See Recordings.

Sometimes called "Polk directories," historical city directories for the Seattle-King County area may be found at the following locations:

King County Archives
(206) 296-1538
archives@kingcounty.gov
(The King County Archives has Seattle city directories for 1939, 1948/9, 1954, 1956, 1957, 1958 and 1994 and an Auburn and Kent directory for 1958.)

Special Collections Division (external link)
University of Washington Libraries
P. O. Box 352900
Seattle, WA 98195
(206) 543-1929
speccoll@u.Washington.edu
List of directories and dates (external link)

Seattle Public Library
Central Library (external link)
1000 Fourth Ave.
Seattle, WA 98104
206-386-4636

Puget Sound Regional Branch, Washington State Archives (external link)
Pritchard-Fleming Building
3000 Landerholm Circle SE, MS-N100
Bellevue, WA 98007-6484
(425) 564-3940
archives@bellevuecollege.edu

 

Online City Directories:

  • 1867 to 1940 (various years) (external link, Seattle Public Library)
  • 1872 to 1960 (various years) available via Ancestry Library Edition
  • 1890 Seattle (external link, HathiTrust)
  • 1891,1892,1893 Seattle (external link, Washington State Digital Archives)
  • 1901 Seattle (external link, HathiTrust)
  • 1923 Seattle (external link, Distant Cousins)

For community property documents recorded with King County, see Recordings.

The Archives' guide, Quick tips for researching recorded documents, includes a section on condominium and homeowner association records. See also Recordings.

Corporations currently operating in Washington State:

Office of the Secretary of State

 

Corporations Division (external link)
801 Capitol Way South
PO Box 40234
Olympia, WA 98504-0234
(360) 753-7115

 

Corporations: Registration Data Search (external link)

 

Online statewide corporation filings, 1855-2004:

 

 

Historical statewide corporation filings, 1869-1990:
Washington State Archives (external link)

 

 

Historical King County corporation filings, 1869-1971:

 

 

Historical King County corporation filings, 1869-1893:
King County Archives(microfilm only)

 

To access or retrieve a Superior Court case file, you will need a case file number. Depending on the date of the case, there are several ways that you can obtain a file number:

Online indexes

1979-present:

Washington Courts (external link)

1938-1979 (criminal), 1935-1979 (civil, by name of plaintiff), 1966-1979 (civil, by name of defendant), 1968-1979 (domestic), 1940-1975 (name change), 1954-1977 (probate):

King County Superior Court Clerk - Note: these indexes are very large PDF documents and can be virtually impossible to view unless you have a very fast internet connection.

Indexes for searching in person

1854-1979:

King County Superiort Court Clerk - Indexes to court records on microfilm only.  You may visit their office and search them in person, otherwise the Clerk will charge at least a $30 search fee.

1888-1978:

Puget Sound Regional Branch, Washington State Archives (external link), they have the following indexes:

  • General indexes (defendant), 1890-1976
  • General indexes (plaintiff), 1888-1975
  • Civil case indexes, 1890-1892
  • Criminal index, 1890-1902, 1962-1977
  • Probate case files index, 1854-1977
  • Juvenile index, 1959-1978
  • Naturalization index, 1906-1928
  • index of "In the Matter of," 1940-1975

1865-1906:

King County Archives - we have defendant indexes to civil case files from 1865-1906.

Case files

1854-present:

King County Superior Court Clerk (all years)

Some court records (2004-present) can be accessed online through Electronic Court Records (ECR) Online. There is a per-page fee to use this system. Online information includes a case summary, calendar information, and a list of case activities by case number. This system does not include domestic cases (divorce, legal separation, child support, etc.), guardianship cases, or protection orders.

1854-1972:

Other records

Criminal dockets held at the King County Archives:

  • Prosecuting Attorney criminal case file dockets, 1906-1950, 1958-1959

 

Other historical court records.

District Court case files

Current District Court case files (2005-present):

Beginning in January 2005, the District Court changed to an all-electronic court records system. Case file information is accessed through the Washington Courts database (external link). For additional information contact:

King County District Court

King County Courthouse
516 3rd Avenue, Room W-1034
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 205-9200

Historical District Court case files (pre-2005):

Prior to 2005, case records were maintained by the division and court facility where the case was filed: South Division (Kent, Burien); East Division (Bellevue, Issaquah, Redmond); and West Division (Seattle and Shoreline). Please contact the appropriate court regarding pre-2005 records. Many older district court records have not been kept. 

Information about older, historical District (Justice) Court records can be found at the King County Archives Web site.

Check with the agency responsible for the citation or for maintaining the records. This can be a municipal agency such as the Seattle Police Department (external link) . Other agencies are the King County Sheriff's Department and theWashington State Patrol (external link). General Washington State information about law enforcement and criminal history records is here (external link).

For criminal case histories, see also the above sections, Court Case Files.

D

The Archives' guide, Quick tips for researching recorded documents includes a section on veterans' discharge papers filed with King County.
Official copies of death certificates may be obtained from King County Vital Statistics.

Divorce records

For divorce decrees in King County for 1853-present, contact:

King County Superior Court Clerk
King County Courthouse
516 3rd Avenue, Room E-609
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 296-9300 (dial "9" to speak to a person)
clerksofficecustomerservice@kingcounty.gov

For divorce certificates for all counties in Washington State from 1968-present, contact:

Department of Health Center for Health Statistics (external link)
PO Box 9709
Olympia, WA 98507-9709
(360) 236-4300
contactchs@doh.wa.gov

For historical divorce case files in King County from 1853-1971, contact:

Puget Sound Regional Archives (external link)
Pritchard-Fleming Building
3000 Landerholm Circle SE, MS-N100
Bellevue, WA 98007-6484
(425) 564-3940
PSBranchArchives@sos.wa.gov

Their records include:

  • divorce case files present in civil case files, 1853-1967
  • divorce case files present in domestic relations case files, 1968-1971
  • General indexes (defendant) to civil case files, 1890-1967
  • General indexes (plaintiff) to civil case files, 1888-1967
  • Domestic relations (divorce) index, 1968-1975

Online Divorce Searching Tools

1854-1889: The Washington State Digital Archives has citations for early divorce records from 1854-1889 included in their Frontier Justice collection. Make sure to mark Case Type as "Civil." Index will provide you with the names of the plaintiff and the defendant, the year of divorce, and the case file number. Request copies from the Puget Sound Regional Archives (external link).
1935-1979:

The King County Superior Court Clerk originally kept large ledger books that served as indexes to case files. These books were microfilmed and are now available online. To search, you must browse through images of the original index books, which are organized semi-alphabetically. The case file number can be used to request records from the King County Superior Court Clerk.

For divorces between 1935 and 1967, you must search under the "General Plaintiff" index.

For divorces between 1968 and 1979, you must search under the "Domestic" index.

Warning: these online indexes are very large PDF documents (about 50 MB each) and can be virtually impossible to view unless you have a very fast internet connection.

1968-2004: The Washington State Library (external link) has a divorce index for 1968-2004 on microfilm. You can search these records in person, or you can request a lookup online (external link). You can use this information to request divorce certificates from the Washington State Department of Health Center for Health Statistics.
July 1979-present: Search online for case file information on the Washington Courts (external link) website. You can use this information to request divorce decrees from the King County Superior Court Clerk.

Note: Search results will only provide you with the name of one party, the court of record, the case file number and the date of the record. For more detailed searches you will have to contact the court directly.

E

The Archives' guide, Quick tips for researching recorded documents includes a section on locating easements. See also Recordings.

F

Tax forclosure information is available from the King County Treasurer

G

Interactive map viewers, downloadable maps, map collections and more can be found through the King County GIS Center's Maps & Apps page.

H

For historic information and photos of a house or other building in King County, the best place to start is with the King County Assessor's Property Cards , available through the Puget Sound Regional Branch of the Washington State Archives.

I

Information about and resources of immigration and naturalization records (external link)

1906 to present:
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (external link):

12500 Tukwila International Blvd
Seattle, WA 98168
(800) 375-5283

Selected regions of Washington State, 1900's to 1980:
National Archives & Records Administration - Pacific Alaska Region, Seattle (external link).

Historical naturalization records in King, Pierce and Kitsap Counties (dates vary for each county):
Puget Sound Regional Branch, Washington State Archives (external link).

See King County Public Health for immunization information.

J

King County's Jail Inmate Lookup Service allows you to search current King County Jail booking and release information.

King Count Jail records can be requested from:

Administration and Public Disclosure
Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention
516 Third Avenue, Room 245
Seattle, WA 98104
Phone: 206-296-7625

Jail medical records may be requested from:

Compliance Office
Public Health - Seattle and King County
401 5th Avenue, Suite 900
Seattle, WA 98104
206-205-5975
Compliance.Health@kingcounty.gov

Historical jail registers

The King County Archives collection includes jail registers, dates ranging from 1891-1897, 1928-1929, 1931-1937 (women only), and 1943-1978. Some volumes include both male and female prisoners, although the cover title indicates men only.

Final determination regarding rights of parties in an action or proceeding in a civil or criminal court case (all years) are on file with the King County Superior Court Clerk:

King County Courthouse
516 3rd Avenue, Room E-609
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 296-9300 (dial "9" to speak to a person)
clerksofficecustomservice@kingcounty.gov

Recorded judgments (1878-present) may be accessed at the King County Archives.

Online Indexes:


Search for judgments in court case files from 1979-present on Washington Courts (external link).
For recorded judgments, see Recordings.

K

L

The Archives' guide, Quick tips for researching recorded documents includes a section on researching the ownership history of a property.

For guidance on researching the history of a building, including ownership, see Researching Building History in Seattle and King County (PDF file), a guide written in collaboration between the Seattle Public Library and the King County Archives.

Information about King County land use hearings can be found through the King County Hearing Examiner's Land Use Decision Case Digest

Landmarks designation is overseen by the County's Historic Preservation Program.

Check with the agency responsible for the citation or for maintaining the records. This can be a municipal agency such as the Seattle Police Department (external link) . Other agencies are the King County Sheriff's Department and theWashington State Patrol (external link). General Washington State information about law enforcement and criminal history records is here (external link).

For criminal case histories, see also the above sections, Court Case Files.

The King County Law Library (external link) is open to the public and provides legal research resources, legal guides, and free legal clinics.

Liens are recorded documents. See Recordings.

M

To apply for a marriage license and for information about getting married in King County, see King County Marriage Licensing.

To learn about different types of marriage records and how to obtain certfied or uncertified copies, see the Archives' page Marriage Records.

See also Frequently Asked Questions about marriage records.

Mortgages are recorded documents. See Recordings.
The Washington State Patrol (external link) provides access to collision reports.

N

The Archives' guide, Quick tips for researching recorded documents, includes a section on locating name change records. See also Recordings.

O

Obituaries are privately published and are not government records. Increasingly, historical newspapers containing obituaries are available and searchable online through public libraries.

Researchers with a current Seattle Public Library card can access indexes to and images of Seattle Times newspapers from 1900-present (external link) and search for obituaries and other newspaper articles themselves from any computer. Staff of the Seattle Public Library (external link) also offer limited obituary searches to Library card holders. Call (206) 386-4636.

P

The Archives guide, Quick tips for researching recorded documents, includes a section on researching plats. See also Recordings.

Check with the agency responsible for the citation or for maintaining the records. This can be a municipal agency such as the Seattle Police Department (external link) . Other agencies are the King County Sheriff's Department and theWashington State Patrol (external link). General Washington State information about law enforcement and criminal history records is here (external link).

For criminal case histories, see also the above sections, Court Case Files.

For power of attorney documents recorded with King County, see Recordings.

Probate is the process of validating wills and distributing estates as provided in a will or required by law. The King County Law Library provides a helpful probate research guide for survivors about probate and related matters.

Filing and case files (all years):

King County Superior Court Clerk
King County Courthouse
516 3rd Avenue, Room E-609
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 296-9300 (dial "9" to speak to a person)
clerksofficecustomerservice@kingcounty.gov


Online index to case files 1979-present on Washington Courts website (external link).  Additionally, there is an online index to probate case files from 1954-1977 on the King County Superior Court Clerk website.

Historic probate records:

Probate case files, 1854-1961
Case file indexes 1854-1977
Puget Sound Regional Branch, Washington State Archives (external link)

Online probate records

Probate case files, 1861-1893
Familysearch.org (external link) - note: records are unindexed and you must manually browse through the digital images

See the Archives' overview of resources for property research.

For in-depth guidance on researching the history of a building, see Researching Building History in Seattle and King County (PDF file), a guide written in collaboration between the Seattle Public Library and the King County Archives.

With few exceptions, records in the King County Archives collection are freely and publicly available for review and are not restricted by copyright. For information on accessing records at the Archives, please see Accessing Archival Records.

To access other County records, you may first wish to contact the responsible department to determine if the records are already publicly available. To submit a public records request under the Washington State Public Records Act (RCW 42.56), please contact the King County Public Records Program < a href="mailto:PRA.Requests@kingcounty.gov">PRA.Requests@kingcounty.gov or call (206) 263-9772.

Q

R

The King County Recorder's Office provides an online search of documents recorded since 1976, with digital images available for most documents recorded from August, 1991 - present.

General information about King County Recordings is available on the Archives page, King County Recorded Documents.

See also the guide, Quick tips for researching recorded documents.

A detailed list of different types of recorded documents and indexes in the Archives collection is provided here: Recorded Documents at the King County Archives.

A records retention schedule is a list indicating the length of time different types of records (records series) are to be retained, and when and if such series may be destroyed or transferred to an archives for posterity. All County retention schedules are established by the King County Records Management Program and approved by the Washington State Local Records Committee.

 

To view County retention schedules, see the Public Disclosure Index. Questions for the King County Records Management Program may be directed to records.management@kingcounty.gov or call (206) 477-6889

To access County records, you may first wish to contact the responsible department to determine if the records are already publicly available.

To submit a public records request under the Washington State Public Records Act (RCW 42.56), please contact the King County Public Records Program < a href="mailto:PRA.Requests@kingcounty.gov">PRA.Requests@kingcounty.gov or call (206) 263-9772.

S

Records relating to properties within the City of Seattle can be found at the Seattle Department of Planning and Development.

The King County Sheriff's Office maintains the Sex offender search database for King County.

The Archives' guide, Quick tips for researching recorded documents includes a section on searching for short plats.

See also Recordings.

The Archives' guide, Quick tips for researching recorded documents includes a section on searching for surveys. See also Recordings.

T

Appeals to property tax assessments are made to the King County Board of Appeals/Equalization.

Tax parcel numbers and detailed parcel information can be found by address through the King County Parcel Viewer.

Records of traffic citations referred to King County District Court can be obtained through the District Court

U

V

See the Archives' guide, Plat Records.

See the Archives' guide, Road Vacations.

W

Recorded water rights records can be located at the King County Archives.

Counties recorded notices of water rights filed prior to the establishment of the state water right permit system in 1917. These notices were not necessarily honored under the state water right system. Additionally, counties record state-issued certificates of water right issued under the state permit system. In researching water rights, researchers should also reference the state water right records of the Washington State Department of Ecology (external link).

Wills filed with the clerk of the court by the executor or administrator of the will after the death of the individual who made the will:
King County Superior Court Clerk

Wills are not required to be recorded. However, some individuals choose to do so. See Recordings.

X

Y

Z

Current and recent zoning information:
Department of Permitting and Environmental Review

Historical zoning information and records (1937- 1969):
King County Archives Historical Zoning Records in King County

1215 E Fir Street, Seattle, Washington 98122 | Hours: 9am-4pm M-F | Phone: (206) 296-1538 | Email: archives@kingcounty.gov