Records Not at the Archives
King County Archives holds many county records, but not all of them. Check out the list below for records that are held by other county or state government offices and how to access them.
Marriage Certificates, August 1991 to present
The King County Recorder's Office holds marriage certificates that were filed August 1991 to the present.
King County Vital Statistics holds birth certificates.
King County Vital Statistics holds death certificates.
Name Change Documents
Name change records are held by two different agencies depending on the filing date.
August 1991 to Present
The King County Recorder's Office holds name change documents that were filed August 1991 to the present.
1853 to August 1991
King County Superior Court holds name change documents that were filed before August 1991.
Specific types of divorce records are available at the following agencies.
Divorce Decrees and Case Files
King County Superior Court holds divorce decrees and case files from 1853 to the present.
Puget Sound Regional Archives in Bellevue holds microfilmed copies of case files from 1968 to 1971 as well as copies from earlier years that are interfiled with civil case files.
Certificates from 1968 to the present are held by the Washington State Department of Health.
Census Records, 1857 to the present
Washington State Digital Archives holds territorial and county census records for King County, as well as federal census records, for various years between 1857 and 1910.
The National Archives and Records Administration at Seattle microfilmed copies of federal census records that were created every ten years from 1860 to 1930.
Puget Sound Regional Archives holds microfilmed copies of territorial and Washington state census records for various years between 1857 and 1892.
King County Archives holds some original bound territorial and county census volumes for various years between 1880 and 1892. The Genealogy Research Guide lists the volumes we hold.
King County Superior and District Courts hold court case files. You need to know which court handled the case to order from the correct office.
To access or retrieve a court case file, you will need a case file number.
To see what historical court and legal records King County Archives holds, review the Court and Legal Records research guide..
Case Files, 1853 to the present
King County Superior Court Clerk's Office holds court case files from 1853 to the present. Many of these files are available to search and order copies online, but if you can't locate them, you can visit the Courthouse and view the microfilmed documents.
Puget Sound Regional Archives holds microfilmed copies of the following case files:
- Civil case files, 1853-1972. (A small sampling of paper records from 1889 to 1983 is also available in the series.)
- Divorce case files, 1968-1971. Earlier divorce case files (before 1968) interfiled with civil case files.
- Criminal case files, 1889-1972. Indexes are available for files dated 1890-1902 and 1962-1977.
- Some naturalization case files and some restricted or partially restricted case files (mental illness, adoption, probate w/ guardianship or adoption, etc.). Dates of coverage vary.
Judgments, 1853 to the present
Final determination regarding rights of parties in an action or proceeding in a civil or criminal court case are on file at the King County Superior Court.
Online access to judgments in court case files from 1979 to the present is available through the Washington Courts website.
Note: Recorded judgments (1878-1969) are held by King County Archives.
Superior Court Case File Indexes
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 to obtain a file number.
The Superior Court Clerk's Office online portal allows you to search for a case file number for cases from 1979 to the present by type of case and the full name of at least on of the parties named in the case.
King County Superior Court Clerk's Office holds microfilmed copies of court record indexes from 1854 to 1979. You may contact them to make an appointment to access the microfilm and search the records in person.
The Washington Courts online portal has indexes for the following Superior Court case files: 1938-1979 (criminal); 1935-1979 (civil, by name of plaintiff); 1966-1979 (civil, by name of defendant); 1968-1979 (domestic); 1940-1975 (name change); and 1954-1977 (probate).
Puget Sound Regional Archives holds the original index volumes:
- General defendant indexes, 1890-1976
- General plaintiff indexes, 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
Case Files, 2005 to the present
District Court case files dated 2005 and later are available to search and order copies online from the District Court Clerk's Office.
District Court Case Files, before 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). Contact the appropriate court regarding pre-2005 records. Please note that many older district court records were not retained.
Building History Research
For historic information and photographs of a house or other building in King County, the best place to start is with the King County Assessor's Real Property Record Cards, which are available through the Puget Sound Regional Archives. The Property Record Cards contain information on individual parcels of property, including legal descriptions, building types, building uses, number of rooms, construction details, and at least one photograph of each building on the parcel. If significant exterior changes were made to the buildings additional photographs were taken. The cards also contain the assessed valuation for each parcel of property for the period ca. 1937 to 1972.
Seattle Property and Land Use Records
For records relating to properties within the City of Seattle contact the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections.
Interactive map viewers, downloadable maps, map collections and more can be found through the King County Geographic Information System (GIS) Center.
For general information about annexations, contact the King County Boundary Review Board.
For maps and information about annexations, contact the Department of Permitting and Environmental Review.
Zoning Records and Maps
For zoning records created after 1995, contact the Department of Permitting and Environmental Review.
King County Archives holds historical zoning records created between 1937 and 1994. To learn more, go to our Historical Building, Property, and Land Use Records research guide.
Land Use Hearings
Information about King County land use hearings is available through the King County Hearing Examiner's Land Use Decision Case Digest.
Landmark designations are overseen by King County's Historic Preservation Program.
Current Corporation Records
For corporate filings for corporations currently operating in Washington State, visit the Office of the Secretary of State Corporations Division website.
You can also search for corporation registration data on the Corporations: Registration Data Search online portal.
Historical Corporation Records
- Statewide corporation filings from 1855 to 2004 are available online through the Washington State Digital Archives.
- Physical copies of statewide corporation filings from 1869 to 1990 are held by the Washington State Archives.
- Physical copies of King County corporation filings from 1869 to 1971 are held by Puget Sound Regional Archives.
- King County Archives holds microfilmed copies of King County corporation filings from 1869 to 1893.
The U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Western Washington District provides online access to bankruptcy records filed in the State of Washington from 1951 to the present.
National Archives and Records Administration Pacific Alaska Region, Seattle holds bankruptcy records filed in the State of Washington from 1889 to 1950.
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 helpful probate resources and a wills and estate planning resource.
King County Superior Court Clerk's Office holds information about filing and case files from 1853 to the present.
King County Superior Court Clerk's Office also provides access to an index to probate case files dated from 1954 to 1977.
The Washington Courts online platform provides access to an index of case files dated 1979 to the present.
Historical Probate Records
Puget Sound Regional Archives holds probate case files from 1854 to 1961 and case file indexes from 1854 to 1977.
FamilySearch.org provides online access to probate records from 1861 to 1893.
Wills can be filed for safekeeping in the King County Superior Court Clerk's Will Repository by the individual who made the will.
After the death of the individual who made the will, wills can be filed with the King County Superior Court Clerk's Office.
Note: 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.
Property Tax Records
Contact the King County Board of Appeals and Equalization for information about property tax assessment appeals.
Visit the King County Parcel Viewer for online access to tax parcel numbers and detailed parcel information.
Contact the King County Treasurer's Office for information about tax foreclosure and foreclosed property.
Law Enforcement Records
For access to law enforcement records, you need to contact the agency that created the records or for maintaining the records.
The Seattle Police Department holds the bulk of its records, including "Individual Files," or "People Files" for both civilian and sworn members of the department back to 1861. You can submit a Public Disclosure Request online to request access to "individual files" and other records.
Seattle Municipal Archives holds a few Seattle Police Department records such as annual reports, police court documents, and other miscellaneous files, most of which were transferred from the Office of the City Clerk.
Contact the King County Sheriff's Office Records Unit for information on accessing their records.
Contact the Washington State Patrol for information on accessing their records.
Note: Criminal case histories are held by the courts.
Sex Offender Search
The King County Sheriff's Office maintains the Sex Offender Search Database for King County.
Jail and Inmate Records
King County Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention provides online access to current jail booking and release information through their online Jail Inmate Lookup Service.
Contact the King County Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention for information on how to access current and historical jail records.
Contact the Seattle-King County Public Health Public Disclosure Office for information on how to access jail medical records.
Note: King County Archives holds historical jail registers dated 1891-1897, 1928-1929, 1931-1937 (women only), and 1943-1978. Some volumes include both male and female prisoners.
Visit the Washington State Patrol website to order a motor vehicle collision report.
Contact the King County District Court for information on traffic citations and tickets.