Find It in the Archives
Learn about the records we hold and how to access them.
King County Archives holds many historical records created by county government agencies. While not comprehensive, this list represents the most frequently requested records held by the Archives and how to access them.
Don't see the records you want in the list below? Go to Records Not at the Archives to see if they're held by a different county or Washington State office.
King County Archives holds a variety of historical marriage records. To learn more about them, see the Historical Vital Records research guide.
To order a certified copy of a marriage certificate please visit the following:
- Marriage certificates filed from 1990 to the present: King County Recorder's Office online portal Landmark.
- Marriage certificates filed before 1990: Washington State Digital Archives.
King County Archives does not hold birth certificates. You may order a copy of a birth certificate from King County Vital Statistics. For information about historical birth records, see the Historical Vital Records research guide.
King County Archives does not hold death certificates. You may order a copy of a death certificate from King County Vital Statistics. For information about historical death records, see the Historical Vital Records research guide.
Census Records, 1880-1892
King County Archives holds some original bound territorial and county census volumes for various years between 1880 and 1892. Visit the Genealogy Research Guide to view a list of the volumes we hold.
Superior Court Case File Indexes
King County Archives holds defendant indexes to Superior Court civil case files dated from 1865 to 1906.
King County holds copies of recorded judgements dated from 1878 to 1969. To locate a recorded judgement, you will need the recording number, or the full name of at least one of the parties and the year it was recorded.
District Court Case Files
King County Archives holds the following District Court records:
- Criminal Index, Seattle district, 1926-1963. These indexes were kept by judge, and they contain the name of the defendant, charge, docket number, and date. In some volumes the charge is not listed.
- Liquor search docket, Seattle district, 1938-1942. These were warrants issued by Judge Guy B. Knott to search for liquor on commercial premises. Record information includes name of defendant (often "John Doe"), address of premises or description of their location when no address is available, and name of person filing charges. Information relating to the scope and extent of search may also be present. Many sites searched were in the Pioneer Square or Jackson Street area of Seattle.
- Dockets of Small Claims Court for Seattle Division of the District Court, 1979-1985. These include the name of defendant and plaintiff, claim by plaintiff, judgment and amount awarded, and they are filed by case number.
King County Archives prosecuting attorney criminal case file dockets for the following date ranges: 1906-1950 and 1958-1959.
For detailed information and resources on property history, link to the Recorded Documents research guide and the Historical Building, Property, and Land Use research guide.
King County Archives does not hold annexation records, but we do hold county legislation records about annexation.
Land ownership records and title research
For guidance on researching the history of a building, including ownership, see Researching Building History in Seattle and King County, a guide written in collaboration with the Seattle Public Library and King County Archives.
Vacation Orders, plats
Information about plat records is available on the Historical Building, Property, and Land Use research guide.
Vacation Orders, roads
Information about road vacations is available on the Historical Building, Property, and Land Use research guide.
Zoning Records and Maps
For information on historical zoning information and records held by King County Archives, check out the Historical Building, Property, and Land Use Records research guide.
Condominium and Homeowner Association Records
King County Archives holds few records related to condominiums but there are two types of recorded documents related to that topic in our collection.
Old plat covenants may appear in connection with (non-condominium) plat maps, usually dating from the first half of the 20th century. These covenants were established by the developer when a plat was laid out. Many have since been determined to be unlawful and unenforceable. You may search for plat covenants if you have a recording number or the full name of one of the parties on the document and the year it was recorded. These kinds of covenants can be found in one of two ways: via the Recorder's Office Official Public Records menu (indexed back to 1976 only) or searching by name via the microfilm indexes at King County Archives.
King County Archives holds microfilmed copies of King County corporation filings from 1869 to 1893.
For information on where to find other corporation records, visit the Records Not at the Archives page.
King County Archives holds case files for 11 bankruptcy cases dated between 1870 and 1877. The cases were administered under the Bankruptcy Act of 1867, which was repealed in 1878.
For information on where to find other bankruptcy files, visit the Records Not at the Archives page.
Wills are not required to be recorded, but some individuals choose to do so. King County Archives holds recorded wills dated prior to August 1991.
Power of Attorney Recorded Documents
King County Archives holds recorded power of attorney documents from 1884 to 1969.
Historical Jail Registers
King County Archives holds jail registers with 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.
Visit the King County History research guide for information about election records.
The King County Recorder's Office online portal Landmark indexes documents recorded since 1976. It also provides digital images of documents recorded from August 1, 1991, to the present.
General information is available on the Recorded Documents research guide, as well as different types of recorded documents and indexes such as DD-214s, deeds, easements, mortgages, plats, and surveys.
Water Rights Records
Recorded water rights documents are held by 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 available at the Washington State Department of Ecology.
Drawings, photographs, maps, and documents commemorating the July 4, 1917, opening of the Lake Washington Ship Canal and its impact on the mills of Salmon Bay.
A sampling of photographs taken by King County bridge inspector Thomas Patrick Blum from 1931 to 1934.
Photographs, recordings, videos, and textual records that document the 1979 Design Symposium and the Earthworks project it spawned.
Primary sources that document Seattle-King County Public Health Department's response to the 1980s and 1990s AIDS epidemic.