Generally, state research begins in the public records, and these are divided into three categories. Know these categories as you begin looking for Washington genealogy materials as it will streamline search efforts:
- Local Records – state genealogy searches will often start at a county clerk’s office or website, and will then head on to the small local libraries, historical societies, local genealogical societies, and school or college libraries for Washington genealogy materials. These are items that are usually offline and viewable by appointment or special arrangement.
- Vital Records – these cover the birth, marriage, divorce and death records from county, state, and national archives. They can also include immigration and naturalization details, cemetery or obituary information, census records, newspaper items, military records, and passenger lists and records as well. These tend to be available as online or offline resources for Washington genealogy.
- State Records – from probate information to private manuscripts, surname lists, newspapers, state census information, marriage details, military or veterans information, land records, maps, estate information, genealogical folders, death records, deeds, birth certificates, cemetery information and more; these are available as online and offline resources for Washington genealogy.
Best Sites for Washington Genealogy Materials – Below is a list of the primary resources for targeted information for Washington genealogy research:
- Department of Health, Center for Health Staistics, P.O. Box 47814, Olympia, WA 98504-7814; Website: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/w2w/washington.htm .
This is where you can find birth, death, marriage and divorce records via a written request or even through an online form.
Additional state and local records can be found at these websites are known for providing researchers with state-specific details for those in search for Washington genealogy data.
- Washington State Archives, 1129 Washington Street SE, Olympia, WA 98504-0238; Digital Archives
- Washington State Library’s main Genealogical page (sos.wa.gov)
- RAOGK Volunteers for Washington (raogk.org)
- Washington Genealogy Network Community (plus.google.com)
- Washington State Genealogy Network (facebook.com)
- USGenweb – Washington Genealogy (wagenweb.org)
- The Washington Family Group Sheet Project (fgs-project.com)
- Free GenForum Message Boards – Washington (genforum.genealogy.com)
- Free Rootsweb Message Boards – Washington (boards.ancestry.com)
- Cyndis List Washington Links (cyndislist.com)
- Washington Mailing List (rootsweb.ancestry.com)
- Washington American History and Genealogy Project (usgennet.org)
- Washington (wikipedia.org)
- Washington Genealogy Look Ups (geneasearch.com)
- USGenWeb Archives Project for Washington (usgwarchives.net)
Washington Ethnic Group Research
The Native American population of Washington included the Yakima and Nez Perce tribes, as well as others. They were often involved in conflicts with settlers who moved to the area. However, wars with European settlers were nothing compared to the European diseases that devastated the Native Americans in Washington. The Native Americans in the Columbia Valley suffered the most. They were almost entirely wiped out within only 3 years or so of the time that the European settlers came to the area.
The United States government created agencies to govern the Native Americans in the state of Washington and control and manage their affairs. Tribal council records, school records, letters, land ownership records and similar documents with useful genealogical information were recorded and cataloged by those agencies. The National Archives-Pacific Alaska Region now holds those records and the FHL also has some of them on microfilm. Some of those agencies are the following:
Colville Agency, Nespellem, Washington (1874-1964) – This agency was created for the Colville Reservation in 1872 and it later governed the Coeur d’Alene Reservation and the Spokane Reservation
Puyallup Agency, Tacoma, Washington (1885-1920) – This agency came about as a merging of the Quinault Agency and the Nisqualli and Skokomish Agency in 1888. It covered many tribes, including the Clallam, Skalallam, Nisqualli, Chehalis, Squaxin Island, Quinaielt and Puyallup tribes.
Spokane Agency, Spokane, Washington (1885-1950) – This agency governed the Spokane Reservation and began in 1912. It included tribes like the Wenatchi, Kutenai and Kalispell, as well as several others.
Taholah Agency, Taholah, Washington (1878-1950) – This agency handled the affairs for all tribes located to the west of the Puget Sound and it was established in 1914. The Neah Bay Agency is a part of the Taholah Agency. The Taholah Agency handled the Hoh, Makah, Chehalis, Ozette, Quileute, Shoalwater, Quinaielt, Skokomish and Nisqualli tribes’ affairs between 1933 and 1950.
Tulalip Agency, Tulalip, Washington (1854-1950) – This agency handled the affairs for Mukleshoot Reservation, Swinomish Reservation, Tulalip Reservation, Lummi Reservation and Port Madison Reservation. The Puyallup Agency administered the affairs of the Cushman Indian School and came under Tulalip Agency control in 1922.
Yakima Agency, Toppenish, Washington (1859-1964) – This agency handled the Yakima, Nez Perce, Bannock and Paiute affairs.
- Washington Native American Books (amazon.com)