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OPEN BUILDING HOURS

King County Archives is thrilled to announce that we now have limited open building hours.

  • Tuesdays, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.: Walk-in, self-service microfilm research
  • Thursdays, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.: Appointment-only all other research requests

Please email archives@kingcounty.gov or call (206) 263-2480 for remote reference services. We look forward to expanding our open building hours later this year.

 

MISSION AND VISION

 

MISSION

The mission of King County Archives is to collect, preserve, and facilitate access to County government records of enduring historical and legal value for the benefit of the public we serve.

 

VISION

King County Archives is a recognized leader in helping the public access County government records, learn more about the history of King County, and foster a strong connection to community.

 

KING COUNTY ARCHIVES TEAM

 
Danielle Coyle

Assistant Archivist

 

Email Danielle
Phone: (206) 263-0920

Katharine Guyon

Assistant Archivist

 

Email Kate
Phone: (206) 477-5244

Greg Lange

Archives Specialist II

 

Email Greg
Phone: (206) 263-2479

Karisa O'Hara

Administrative Specialist III

 

Email Karisa
Phone: (206) 263-2481

Hannah Soukup

King County Archivist
and Archives Program Manager

 

Email Hannah
Phone: (206) 477-5281

 

HISTORICAL RECORDS

 

King County Archives is the respository for historically-relevant King County government records, and we are charged with the preservation of and access to those records. We hold more than 300 collections comprising over 18,000 linear feet of records dating from 1853 to the present. These records serve as a permanent source of information about activities, programs, and decisions of County agencies, elected officials, and County employees. These records exist in many formats, including paper, photographs, maps, and audio-visual materials.

They include legislative records: County Commissioner's resolutions (1853-1968) and County Council ordinances and motions (1969-1999), a special collection of over 6,000 County documents, pre-charter legislation, administration and policy decisions, early road and bridge establishment and inspection records and records and policies from former County Executives.

Some King County government records are also held by Puget Sound Regional Archives, a branch of the Washington State Archives, which began collecting materials before the establishment of King County Archives in 1990.

 

COMMITMENT TO DIVERSITY, INCLUSION, AND EQUITY

 

King County Archives supports King County government's strong commitment to equity and social justice. Our equity and social justice shared values guide and shape our work. We are:

  • Inclusive and collaborative
  • Diverse and people focused
  • Responsive and adaptive
  • Transparent and accountable
  • Racially just
 

POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

 

King County Archives is committed to protecting your privacy while enabling your access to King County government records. The Archives uses only anonymized data you provide on for statistical purposes to improve our services, protect the security of the archival records in our custody, and to allow you to keep track of previous research activities, generate citations, and plan future visits.

We do not sell your personal data to any other organizations. We will only share your personal data for the following purposes: as required by law or in a legal proceeding, or as otherwise authorized by you.

Access

King County Archives holds historically-relevant county government records for long-term preservation and access. Archival records are unique materials that cannot be replaced. King County Archives is charged with the care of these records for future generations. We hold them in trust for the people of King County, and we are committed to providing open access to records unless they contain information that is exempted under the Washington State Public Records Act.

 
Physical Access

Researchers who are requesting access to materials in person will be asked to abide by the following policies:

  • Records must be accessed at the Archives building only. Archival records don't leave the premises except with the express permission of the King County Archivist.
  • Please check in with staff member at the lobby desk. They are there to assist you.
  • All patrons will be asked to sign in at the front desk prior to using archival records. The Archives uses only anonymized data you provide for statistical purposes to improve our services and track the use of our collections.
  • No food or drinks may be consumed near archival materials. We provide lockers for you to store these items.
  • The use of pens or other permanent marking tools is prohibited while using archival records. Such items can damage or deface historical materials.
  • Patrons using the research room will be asked to store their bags and coats in a locker outside the research room.
  • Duplication of archival materials is facilitated by Archives staff.
 
Remote Access

King County Archives is committed to providing a meaningful remote research experience for patron who are unable to visit in person. Although materials cannot leave the building or be "interlibrary loaned," patrons can contact us via email or phone and request a research consultation. An Archives staff member will discuss your research topic with you, and make recommendations about what records in our holdings may be responsive. If information isn't available in our holdings, Archives staff will do their best to refer you to the most likely office or agency that may hold responsive records.

King County Archives also provide duplication services. Please review our Duplication and Publication Policy.

Publication of County government records held by King County Archives does not require permission or a use fee. We ask that you properly cite any materials in our holdings (see below for citation example) that you use in publication. Please note that there are some restrictions on the duplication and publication of government records.

Government Records and Fair Use

Most works created by King County government, including documents prepared by an officer or employee of the county government as part of that person’s official duties, may be freely copied, published, edited, and adapted.

The right to duplicate King County government-created works without permission generally does not extend to:

  • works created or published by others with the support of King County government funds, grants, or contracts;
  • versions of government documents that are edited, annotated, or compiled by publishers; and
  • portions of government documents that contain copyrighted material from other non-King County government sources.

King County Archives does not claim to control the rights of reproduction for all materials in its collection. In those cases where a person or legal entity other than King County holds copyright to certain content present in King County Archives holdings, the publishing party assumes all responsibility for clearing production rights with the copyright holder and for any infringement of U.S. copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code).

 
Washington State Public Records Act

In Washington State, laws exist to ensure that government is open, and that the public has a right to access appropriate records and information created by Washington state and local government. The Public Records Act states:

"Each agency, in accordance with published rules, shall make available for public inspection and copying all public records, unless the record falls within the specific exemptions of subsection (6) of this section [RCW 42.56.070(6)], Chapter 42.56 RCW, or other statute which exempts or prohibits disclosure of specific information or records."

To the extent required to prevent an unreasonable invasion of personal privacy interests protected by Chapter 42.56 RCW, an agency shall delete identifying details in a manner consistent with Chapter 42.56 RCW when it makes available or publishes any public record; however, in each case, the justification for the deletion shall be explained fully in writing.

Other exceptions to the Public Records Act include the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). HIPAA is a federal law requiring the creation of national standards to protect sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without the patient's consent or knowledge. FERPA was enacted in 1974 to protect the privacy of student education records.

 
Duplication Exceptions

King County Archives reserves the right to deny duplication of the materials in its holdings due to the following:

  • A violation of federal or state privacy laws.
  • A violation of federal or state copyright laws.
  • Fragility of materials or damage to materials resulting from duplication.
 
Citation / Credit

The Researcher agrees to use the following credit line, or one in a similar format that has been approved by King County Archives, when publishing or using in facsimile reproduction the material(s) identified below.

[Folder / Volume Title] OR Photo [number], [Collection / Series title], Series / Collection [number], Box / Volume [number]. King County Archives, Seattle, Washington.

King County Archives collects records created by King County government departments and King County employees working in their official capacity for the county. We cannot accept donations of materials created by non-county employees, county employees not in their official capacity working for the county, or private businesses and organizations. If you have questions about the historical value of your records and what repository might be appropriate, please contact the King County Archivist for a referral.

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQS)

 

This section contains frequently asked questions and answers about King County Archives. If you don't see the answer to your question listed below, please email us at archives@kingcounty.gov or call (206) 263-2480 for more information.

You may access records held at King County Archives remotely or in person.

  • To request remote assistance, please email archives@kingcounty.gov or call (206) 263-2480.
  •  
  • To access records in person, please to to the Visit the Archives page for more information. Most recorded documents are available in our microfilm research room, where no appointment is required. The bulk of the archival records in our holdings are not available on microfilm, so if you wish to access those, please contact us to schedule a research appointment.

There are several sources of property and land use records in King County, including:

  1. The King County Permitting Division holds construction and land use records, including permits, for properties in unincorporated King County.
  2.  
  3. The King County Department of Assessments holds current property tax assessment records.
  4.  
  5. Puget Sound Regional Archives in Bellevue holds historical tax assessment records. The Regional Archives is a branch of the Washington State Archives.
  1. With the adoption of the 1969 Charter, King County changed its form of government and created new county agencies. The county's records, formerly held in a more central manner, were dispersed among those agencies.
  2.  
  3. King County Archives was not established until 1990. Prior to that, Puget Sound Regional Archives in Bellevue was the official repository for King County. As a branch of the Washington State Archives, Puget Sound Regional Archives still retains some King County records, such as pre-1990 tax assessment records, property assessment records, and historical house photographs.
  4.  
  5. Some county offices, such as the Sheriff, Superior and District Courts, and certain departments within Public Health, maintain their own records because they need to reference them frequently or because those documents contain sensitive information like social security numbers, medical history, etc. that by law must be restricted.

King County Archives holds records created by King County government departments and employees working in their official capacity for the county. These records are available in many formats including paper, photographs, maps, audio, and visual. They include the following: legislative records such as County Commissioners resolutions (1853-1968) and County Council ordinances and motions (1969-1999); pre-1969 Charter legislation; administration and policy decisions; recorded documents related to property ownership; early road and bridge establishment and inspection records; and records and policies created by former County Executives.

The materials available at King County Archives are held in trust for the people of the county. We are charged with the safety and security of these materials so they may be made available long-term for all people. For this reason, we do not allow the materials to leave the facility, but we encourage you to visit the Archives to view the records in person. If you cannot visit in person, please email archives@kingcounty.gov or call (206) 263-2480 about alternative access options.

  • Recorded Documents: Please fill out our online order form.
  •  
  • All Other Archival Records: Email archives@kingcounty.gov or call (206) 263-2480. Please provide a brief description of the records you want and where they're located in the Archives: which series, record group or box number. If you don't have that information, we are happy to provide a research consultation to determine whether we hold records that may be responsive to your research.
  •  
  • Marriage Certificates: If your marriage certificate was filed before 1990, you may order a certified, downloadable copy on the Washington State Digital Archives. If your marriage certificate was filed in 1990 or later, you may order a certified copy on the King County Recorder's Office online portal Landmark.

We encourage visitors to bring their personal laptop, mobile device, or digital camera so they may take notes and take digital images of materials.

Whether you need an appointment depends on the types of records you'd like to access.

For recorded documents on microfilm, you don't need an appointment and may visit the Archives building during our open walk-in hours. Go to our Visit the Archives page for more information.

For archival records not on microfilm, we ask that you make an appointment. This gives us time to do a research consultation if necessary, locate potentially responsive records, and have them ready when you arrive. Call (206) 263-2480 or email archives@kingcounty.gov to schedule an appointment.

For more information on appointments, building hours, access and use policies, and directions to the Archives, please go to our Visit the Archives page.

The King County Archives building is located at 1215 E. Fir Street, Seattle, WA 98122. For directions and parking information, please go to our Visit the Archives page.

 

NEWS AND EVENTS

 

WELCOME ASSISTANT ARCHIVISTS

King County Archives is pleased to welcome Danielle Coyle and Katharine Guyon as the new County Assistant Archivists. Danielle and Kate were hired in September 2022 and are settling into their new roles.

Danielle has been with King County Archives since 2017 as an Archives Specialist. She has an academic background in history and museum collections management. Before coming to King County, Danielle worked in patron services at the Seattle Public Library. She previously interned with local institutions such as the Museum of History and Industry and the University of Washington Libraries Special Collections. She loves the wealth of local history that comprises the King County Archives, and her favorite records in the collection are the County Road Engineer’s bridge photographs.

Kate joined King County Archives in April 2022 as an Archives Specialist. She has a background in museum studies, archives, and archaeology. Before coming to King County, Kate served the Photography Archives Registrar and Archivist for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. She enjoys digitizing historic photographs and maps, and she has also participated in recovery and preservation of archaeological materials and documents with the National Park Service.

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For information about our open business hours, please go to our Visit the Archives page.