Washington Records Details and Resources
9/29/2010
Where to find Washington census records, immigration records, land records, maps, vital records and more.
RECORD HIGHLIGHTS

Washington was included in the 1850 federal Oregon Territory Census and in several subsequent Washington territorial and state censuses, 1857-1892, which are available on microfilm through the state archives and the Family History Library (FHL). The first federal census enumerating Washington Territory was in 1860; the earliest extant census post-statehood is from 1900. Washington census and naturalization records can be searched on the state archives' website at http://www.digitalarchives.wa.gov. The site also includes several other types of records.

Official birth and death records were kept at the county level from 1891 to 1907, and by the state thereafter. Some pre-1891 records exist and have been microfilmed, as have many 1891-to-1907 county records. Indexes of Washington births and deaths are on subscription website Ancestry.com.

Statewide marriage records didn't begin until 1967. You can search many earlier county records from eastern Washington on the Western States Historical Marriage Records Index site at http://abish.byui.edu/specialCollections/westernStates/search.cfm.

Land records and related water-rights and mining documents provide crucial clues to Washington's settlement boom. Files from the Donation Land Act (1851-1903) are kept at the National Archives' regional office in Seattle, with indexes and abstracts available at the National Archives and via the FHL. Homestead Act claims are archived at the Bureau of Land Management office in Portland, Ore. Water-rights records dating from 1917 are kept at the Department of Ecology and the state archives. An index to mining surveys covering 1883 to 1964 is available via the FHL; the 66 volumes of surveys have been microfilmed by the state archives.The state archives also has military records from Washington's Indian wars, files from the state's soldiers and veterans homes, and applications for state bonuses to veterans from World War I through the Vietnam War.

The Washington State Library in Olympia maintains an extensive collection of microfilmed state newspapers, accessible through interlibrary loan. For information on the collection, see http://www.sos.wa.gov/library/microfilm.aspx; learn more about the newspaper holdings at http://www.sos.wa.gov/library/newspapers_wsl.aspx.

LAND RECORDS
  • Index to Mining Surveys, 1883-1964 by Kathleen Waugh (K. Waugh, 1985)
  • Washington Territory Donation Land Claims: an Abstract of Information in the Land Claim Papers of Persons Who Settled in Washington Territory Before 1856 (Seattle Genealogical Society, 1980)
MAPS
  • Early Washington Atlas, 2nd edition (Binford & Mort Publishers, 1974)
  • The Evolution of Washington Counties by Newton Carl Abbott and Fred E. Carver, compiled by J.W. Helm (Yakima Valley Genealogical Society and Klickitat County Historical Society, 1978)
  • A Geographic Dictionary of Washington by Henry Landes (F.J. Lamborn, 1917)
  • Historical Atlas of Washington by James R. Scott and Roland L. DeLorme (University of Oklahoma Press, 1988)
  • Origin of Washington Geographic Names by Edmond S. Meany (Gale Research Co., 1968)
  • R.L. Polk & Co. Oregon & Washington Gazetteer and Business Directory, 1909-1910 (R.L. Polk, 1909)
  • Washington Atlas and Gazetteer (DeLorme Mapping Co., 1996)
  • Washington: A Centennial Atlas by James R. Scott (Western Washington University, 1989)
  • Washington State Place Names by James W. Phillips (University of Washington Press, 1971)
MILITARY RECORDS
  • Burial List of the Members of the 1st Washington Territory Infantry by Sherman Lee Pompey (Pacific Specialties, 1972)
  • Civil War Veteran Burials from the Arizona Territory, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and the Washington Territory by Sherman Lee Pompey (filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1975)
  • Washington National Guard Pamphlet: The Official History of the Washington National Guard, 7 vols., by Virgil F. Field (Office of the Adjutant General, 1961)
PROBATE RECORDS
  • Frontier Justice: Guide to the Court records of Washington Territory, 1853-1889, 2 vols., from the Frontier Justice Records Project (National Historical Publications and Records Commission, 1987)
  • A Guide to the Records of Washington Territorial Supreme Court, 1853-1889 by Pat Hopkins (Washington State Archives, 1983)
VITAL RECORDS
  • A Directory of Cemeteries and Funeral Homes in Washington State from the Washington Interment Association and the Washington State Funeral Directors Association (HeritageQuest, 1990)
  • Washington's First Marriages of the 39 Counties edited by John D. Carter (Eastern Washington Genealogical Society, 1986)
  • Cemetery Records of Washington, 6 vols., (Genealogical Society of Utah, ca. 1956-1960)
  • Guide to Public Vital Statistics Records in Washington (Washington Historical Records Survey, 1941)
  • Index to Birth Certificates, 1907-1959 (filmed by the Washington Bureau of Vital Statistics, 1960)
  • Index to Death Certificates, 1907-1959, 1960-1979 (filmed by the Washington Bureau of Vital Statistics, 1954-1960)
  • Index to Delayed Birth Records, 1900-1980 from the Washington Department of Health (filmed by the Bureau of Vital Statistics, 1996)



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From the Family Tree Sourcebook
Also available: the State Research Guide Book, State Research Guides CD and The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy.