Genealogy at the Washington State Library
Due to budget cuts and reduced staff, the State Library is no longer offering our obituary lookup service. These are some options for accessing obituaries and other genealogical information in Washington state newspapers. Information about finding Washington obituaries using existing resources online can be found here.
*Check out our Genealogy Research Links page for Washington State genealogy web sites*
The State Library has many biographical resources available on site for genealogy research: Biography and Genealogy Master Index, Washington Pioneers (a multivolume set published by the Washington State Genealogical Society), Told by the Pioneers, and Family Records of Washington Pioneers (a 65 volume set published by the Daughters of the American Revolution).
The State Library also has a large number of biographies of Washingtonians and other persons from the Pacific Northwest. They are all listed in our online catalog.
Some of these books, especially the ones in our Rare Collection, have been scanned, and are available on our web site.
Resources available online are Thurston County Pioneers, and Women in the Washington State Legislature, World War I Soldiers Remembered, and an Index to Olympia Area Residents, 1845-1930.
The State Library has collected cemetery transcriptions published by local genealogical and historical societies in Washington State. They are all listed in our online catalog.
A list of some online Washington cemetery records, can be found on our web site.
The State Library has Washington Territorial Census Rolls, 1857-1892 available on microfilm. These censuses vary by county and years. Check out our Territorial Census handout for a complete list. Some local genealogical societies have published indexes to Washington censuses which will be in the online catalog.
The State Library also has the Washington Territory & State U.S. census records on microfilm for years between 1850 – 1880 and 1900 - 1940. All of these censuses, both the Washington Territorial and the U.S. censuses are also available on Ancestry.com, which the library subscribes to. The State Library has in its collection of Rare Federal Documents, a copy of the 1790 Census, that was reprinted in the early twentieth century.
City & County Directories
The State Library has an extensive collection of city and county directories, dating from 1890 to present. City directories were generally published annually and list the names and occupation of adult residents.
Directories are available for 35 Washington Counties and 300 cities.
All of the directories are listed in our online catalog. They are available for on site use only.
City & County Histories
The State Library has many Washington city and county histories. They are all listed in the online catalog. A brief history of each county can be found on this County Histories handout. Some of these city and county histories, especially the ones in our Rare Collection, have been scanned, and are available on our web site.
Ancestry Library Edition provides access to a wide variety of resources including U.S. census indexes & images 1790-1930; vital records, the Social Security Death Index, church, military, immigration, court, land and probate records; and United Kingdom and Ireland census images and indexes. It includes the Washington State and Territorial Censuses, as well as birth and death registers and indexes for Washington State. This resource is available on site only.
America's Historical Newspapers (Newsbank) - Explore early American history to support genealogical and local history research. Remote access available to library cardholder. Remote access available to library cardholder.
HeritageHub! (Newsbank) - Explore your family history with the premier collection of U.S. obituaries and death notices for in-depth genealogical research from 1704 – today. HeritageHub helps you easily identify relatives, uncover new information and potentially unknown family members. Includes deep coverage from all 50 states, hard-to-find content from the mid 1900’s, and original obituary images. Remote access available to library cardholder.
The State Library has several digital collections, including Washington Rural Heritage, Thurston County Pioneers and Historical Maps.
The University of Washington also has many interesting digital collections.
Gazetteers and Business Directories
The State Library has gazetteers and business directories dating from the late 19th and early 20th century.
Among some of the titles are Pacific Coast Business (1867), Disturnell’s Business Directory and Gazetteer of the West Coast of North America (1882), McKenney’s Pacific Coast Directory (1883-4, 1886-7), and Oregon, Washington and Idaho Gazetteer and Business Directory (1886-7, 1892).
All of the gazetteers and directories are listed in our online catalog. They are available for on site use only.
The State Library does not have immigration records in its collection. The State Archives has some naturalization records, and they have begun to put them online.
The State Library does have resources about different immigrant communities in its genealogy collection. There are lists of these resources on our Genealogy Collection Bibliographies page.
A complete list of the military records in the State Library can be found on this handout.
The Washington State Archives has begun to put some of the military records in their collection up on their Digital Archives web site. These include records from the Retsil and Orting Soldiers' Homes.
Check out our Genealogy Research Links page for a list of web sites about researching Washington state soldiers.
The State Library has access to Washington state newspapers dating from 1853 - present, available on microfilm, in print and online. You can find out more about our newspaper resources, including newspaper indexes and our catalog of complete newspaper holdings on our Newspapers at the State Library page.
The State Library does not have an index to all of the newspapers in our collection, however, we do have some indexes created by other libraries and historical soceties. A list of them can be found on the Newspaper Indexes & Abstracts handout.
Most newspaper microfilm is available for interlibrary loan (max. 10 reels). Please contact your local library to initiate your request.
*Click here to see a few of our historical newspapers available online*
The State Library has a large number of local genealogical and historical periodicals, as well as some general genealogical journals including: Everton's Genealogical Helper, Family Tree Magazine, Family Chronicle.
A list of all of our genealogy periodicals can be found on the Genealogy Periodicals handout.
All of our periodicals are listed in our online catalog. They are available for on site use only.
The State Library has a large collection of telephone books for major and small towns in Washington. They are all listed in our online catalog. They are available for on site use only.
Whiteside Funeral Home Records
The State Library has now has a collection of Whiteside Funeral Home Records for Aberdeen (1905 –2002), Elma (1914 - 2002), Hoquiam (1914-1918), and Montesano (1913-1985).
The records include useful genealogical information, such as the decedent’s name, date and place of birth to their parents’ names & places of birth. Some records include a list of immediate relatives.
If you have an ancestor that died in Aberdeen, Elma, Hoquiam, or Montesano during those years you can request a search of this collection, by going to the Ask-A-Librarian page on our web site, and providing us with the name of the person, and the exact date that they died.
Please make sure to include in your question that you are requesting a search of the Whiteside Funeral Home Records.
*We have no access to the funeral home records for years other than the ones indicated.