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King County Archives

A repository of county government records
King County Archives
1215 E. Fir St.
Building A
Seattle, WA 98122

206-296-1538
archives@kingcounty.gov

Monday - Friday
9:00 am - 4:00 pm

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Frequently Requested Records

An alphabetical listing of various types of records frequently requested from the King County Archives. Many of these records are held elsewhere, and some of these links will take you directly to the repository that holds them.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O PQ R S T U V WXY Z


A

Adoption records 
Annexations
Apostilles
Articles of Incorporation
Auditor, King County

B

Bankruptcy records
Birth certificates
Birth records: non-certified, historical or genealogical
Building history (Seattle and King County)  (PDF file)
Business licenses
Business [trade] names, changes or updates (DBA) (external link)

C

Census records
Certificate of No Marriage (single status certification) 
Community Property Agreements
City directories
Condominium and homeowner association documents
Corporation filings
Court case files (Superior Court)
Criminal history records

                                               

D

DD-214 (military discharge papers)
Death certificates
Death records: non-certified, historical or genealogical
Deeds; quitclaim deeds
District court case files
Divorce records

E

Easements
Election Results

F

Foreclosed properties

G

GIS information

H

House photographs, historical

I

Immigration and naturalization records
Immunization information

J

Jail Inmate Lookup Service
Jail records
Judgments

K

L

Land ownership records and title research
Land Use Decision Case Digest
Landmark designation for historic properties
Law enforcement records 
Legal research and self-help (external link)
Liens

M
Marriage: copies of records
Marriage: getting married
Mortgages
Motor Vehicle Collision Reports (Washington State Patrol, external link)

N

Name change records

O

Obituaries

P

Plats
Police records
Power of Attorney records
Probates
Property research

Q

R

Records retention schedules

S

Seattle property and land use records
Sex offender search
Short plats
Surveys

T

Tax appeals
Tax parcel numbers
Traffic citations

U

V

Vacation orders, plat
Vacation orders, road

W

Water rights records
Wills

X, Y, Z

Zoning records and maps


Annexations

General information:

Boundary Review Board
Yesler Building, Room 240
400 Yesler Way
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 296-6800

Maps and information:

Department of Permitting and Environmental Review

King County legislation about annexations:

King County Archives



Apostilles

An apostille (external link) is a document that authenticates the signatures of notaries or state officials on vital records documents (for example, birth, death, or marriage certificates, or divorce decrees) that are being submitted for foreign use (for example, foreign-born adoptions, marriages overseas, foreign citizenship purposes, etc.)

To receive an apostille, you must obtain a certified copy of the vital records document from the county of origin or the State Department of Health, and then submit the certified copy together with the filing fee of $15.00 per document to the Office of the Washington Secretary of State:

Secretary of State
Corporates Division
Apostille and Certificate Program
801 Capitol Way South
Olympia, WA 98504

Instructions can be found online (external link), or call the Apostille and Certificate Program at (360) 725-0344.


Bankruptcy records

1951-present (U.S.):

U.S. Bankruptcy Court (external link)
Western Washington District
700 Stewart St, Room 6301
Seattle, WA 98101-1290
(206) 370-5200
Access to electronic files (PACER) (external link)

1889-1950 (Washington State):

National Archives and Records Administration (external link), Pacific Alaska Region, Seattle

1870-1877 (King County):

King County Archives 
Case files for eleven bankruptcy cases from the 1870s. The cases were administered under the Bankruptcy Act of 1867 (repealed 1878).

Bankruptcy law research guide (external link)


City directories

Sources of city directories (sometimes called "Polk directories") in the Seattle-King County area include the following:

King County Archives
(206) 296-1538
archives@kingcounty.gov
(The King County Archives has Seattle city directories for 1939, 1948/9, 1954, 1956, 1957, 1958 and 1994 and an Auburn and Kent directory for 1958.)

Special Collections Division (external link)
University of Washington Libraries
P. O. Box 352900
Seattle, WA 98195
(206) 543-1929
speccoll@u.Washington.edu
List of directories and dates (external link)

Seattle Public Library
Central Library (external link)
1000 Fourth Ave.
Seattle, WA 98104
206-386-4636

Puget Sound Regional Branch, Washington State Archives (external link)
Pritchard-Fleming Building
3000 Landerholm Circle SE, MS-N100
Bellevue, WA 98007-6484
(425) 564-3940
archives@bellevuecollege.edu

 

Online City Directories:

  • 1867 to 1940 (various years) (external link, Seattle Public Library)
  • 1872 to 1960 (various years) available via Ancestry Library Edition
  • 1890 Seattle (external link, HathiTrust)
  • 1891,1892,1893 Seattle (external link, Washington State Digital Archives)
  • 1901 Seattle (external link, HathiTrust)
  • 1923 Seattle (external link, Distant Cousins)

Corporation filings

Corporations currently operating in Washington State:

Office of the Secretary of State
Corporations Division (external link)
801 Capitol Way South
PO Box 40234
Olympia, WA 98504-0234
(360) 753-7115
Corporations: Registration Data Search (external link)

Online statewide corporation filings, 1855-2004:

Washington State Digital Archives (external link)

Historical statewide corporation filings, 1869-1990:

 

Washington State Archives (external link)

Historical King County corporation filings, 1869-1971:

Puget Sound Regional Archives (external link)
Historical King County corporation filings, 1869-1893:
King County Archives (microfilm only)

Court case files (Superior Court)

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 that you can obtain a file number:

Online indexes

1979-present:

Washington Courts (external link)

1938-1979 (criminal), 1935-1979 (civil, by name of plaintiff), 1966-1979 (civil, by name of defendant), 1968-1979 (domestic), 1940-1975 (name change), 1954-1977 (probate):

King County Superior Court Clerk - Note: these indexes are very large PDF documents and can be virtually impossible to view unless you have a very fast internet connection.

Indexes for searching in person

1854-1979:

King County Superiort Court Clerk - Indexes to court records on microfilm only.  You may visit their office and search them in person, otherwise the Clerk will charge at least a $30 search fee.

1888-1978:

Puget Sound Regional Branch, Washington State Archives (external link), they have the following indexes:

  • General indexes (defendant), 1890-1976
  • General indexes (plaintiff), 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

1865-1906:

King County Archives - we only have defendant indexes to civil case files from 1865-1906.

Case files

1854-present:

King County Superior Court Clerk (all years)

Some court records (2004-present) can be accessed online through Electronic Court Records (ECR) Online. There is a per-page fee to use this system. Online information includes a case summary, calendar information, and a list of case activities by case number. This system does not include domestic cases (divorce, legal separation, child support, etc.), guardianship cases, or protection orders.

1854-1972:

Puget Sound Regional Branch, Washington State Archives (external link).
They have:

  • Criminal case files, 1889-1972
  • Civil case files, 1853-1983 (incomplete after 1972)
  • Other records

    Criminal dockets held at the King County Archives:

    • Prosecuting Attorney criminal case file dockets, 1906-1950, 1958-1959

    Other historical court records.


    Criminal history, law enforcement and police records

    Check with the agency responsible for the citation or for maintaining the records. This can be a municipal agency such as the Seattle Police Department (external link) . Other agencies are the King County Sheriff's Department and the Washington State Patrol (external link). General Washington State information about law enforcement and criminal history records is here (external link).



    District Court case files

    Current District Court case files (2005-present):

    Beginning in January 2005, the District Court changed to an all-electronic court records system. Case file information is accessed through the Washington Courts database (external link). For additional information contact:

    King County District Court
    King County Courthouse
    516 3rd Avenue, Room W-1034
    Seattle, WA 98104
    (206) 205-9200

    Historical District Court case files (pre-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). Please contact the appropriate court regarding pre-2005 records. Many older district court records have not been kept. 

    Information about older, historical District (Justice) Court records can be found at the King County Archives Web site.


    Divorce records

    For divorce decrees in King County for 1853-present, contact:

    King County Superior Court Clerk
    King County Courthouse
    516 3rd Avenue, Room E-609
    Seattle, WA 98104
    (206) 296-9300 (dial "9" to speak to a person)
    clerksofficecustomerservice@kingcounty.gov

    For divorce certificates for all counties in Washington State from 1968-present, contact:

    Department of Health Center for Health Statistics (external link)
    PO Box 9709
    Olympia, WA 98507-9709
    (360) 236-4300
    contactchs@doh.wa.gov

    For historical divorce case files in King County from 1853-1971, contact:

    Puget Sound Regional Archives (external link)
    Pritchard-Fleming Building
    3000 Landerholm Circle SE, MS-N100
    Bellevue, WA 98007-6484
    (425) 564-3940
    PSBranchArchives@sos.wa.gov

    Their records include:

    • divorce case files present in civil case files, 1853-1967
    • divorce case files present in domestic relations case files, 1968-1971
    • General indexes (defendant) to civil case files, 1890-1967
    • General indexes (plaintiff) to civil case files, 1888-1967
    • Domestic relations (divorce) index, 1968-1975

    Online Divorce Searching Tools

    1854-1889: The Washington State Digital Archives has citations for early divorce records from 1854-1889 included in their Frontier Justice collection. Make sure to mark Case Type as "Civil." Index will provide you with the names of the plaintiff and the defendant, the year of divorce, and the case file number. Request copies from the Puget Sound Regional Archives (external link).
    1935-1979:

    The King County Superior Court Clerk originally kept large ledger books that served as indexes to case files. These books were microfilmed and are now available online. To search, you must browse through images of the original index books, which are organized semi-alphabetically. The case file number can be used to request records from the King County Superior Court Clerk.

    For divorces between 1935 and 1967, you must search under the "General Plaintiff" index.

    For divorces between 1968 and 1979, you must search under the "Domestic" index.

    Warning: these online indexes are very large PDF documents (about 50 MB each) and can be virtually impossible to view unless you have a very fast internet connection.

    1968-2004: The Washington State Library (external link) has a divorce index for 1968-2004 on microfilm. You can search these records in person, or you can request a lookup online (external link). You can use this information to request divorce certificates from the Washington State Department of Health Center for Health Statistics.
    July 1979-present: Search online for case file information on the Washington Courts (external link) website. You can use this information to request divorce decrees from the King County Superior Court Clerk.

    Note: Search results will only provide you with the name of one party, the court of record, the case file number and the date of the record. For more detailed searches you will have to contact the court directly.

    Immigration and naturalization records

    Information about and resources of immigration and naturalization records (external link)

    1906 to present:
    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (external link)
    12500 Tukwila International Blvd
    Seattle, WA 98168
    (800) 375-5283

    Selected regions of Washington, 1900s to 1980:
    National Archives & Records Administration - Pacific Alaska Region, Seattle
    (external link)

    Historical naturalization records in King, Pierce and Kitsap Counties (dates vary for each county):
    Puget Sound Regional Branch, Washington State Archives (external link)


    Jail records

    Administration and Public Disclosure
    Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention
    516 Third Avenue, Room 245
    Seattle, WA 98104
    Phone: 206-296-7625

    Jail medical records

    Compliance Office
    Public Health - Seattle and King County
    401 5th Avenue, Suite 900
    Seattle, WA 98104
    206-205-5975
    Compliance.Health@kingcounty.gov


    Judgments

    Final determination regarding rights of parties in an action or proceeding in a civil or criminal court case (all years):

    Superior Court Clerk
    King County Courthouse
    516 3rd Avenue, Room E-609
    Seattle, WA 98104
    (206) 296-9300 (dial "9" to speak to a person)
    clerksofficecustomservice@kingcounty.gov

    Recorded judgments (1878-present):

    King County Archives

    Online Indexes:

    • Search for judgments in court case files from 1979-present on Washington Courts (external link).
    • Search for recorded judgments from 1976-present on the Recorder's Office website.

    Obituaries

    In Seattle, staff of the Seattle Public Library (external link) offer limited obituary searches to holders of a current Seattle Public Library card. Call (206) 386-4636.

    Additionally, users who have a current Seattle Public Library card can access indexes to and images of Seattle Times newspapers from 1900-present (external link) and search for obituaries and other newspaper articles themselves from any computer.


    Probate records

    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 a list of helpful information for survivors about probate and related matters.

    Filing and case files (all years):

    King County Superior Court Clerk
    King County Courthouse
    516 3rd Avenue, Room E-609
    Seattle, WA 98104
    (206) 296-9300 (dial "9" to speak to a person)
    clerksofficecustomerservice@kingcounty.gov

    Online index to case files 1979-present on Washington Courts website (external link).  Additionally, there is an online index to probate case files from 1954-1977 on the King County Superior Court Clerk website. 

    Historic probate records:

    Probate case files, 1854-1961
    Case file indexes 1854-1977
    Puget Sound Regional Branch, Washington State Archives (external link)

    Online probate records
    Probate case files, 1861-1893
    Familysearch.org (external link) - note: records are unindexed and you must manually browse through the digital images

    Records retention schedules

    A records retention schedule is a list of public record series approved by the Washington State Local Records Committee. The schedule indicates the length of time the record series is to be retained and when and if such series may be destroyed or transferred to the King County Archives. The schedule also designates record series as essential and/or archival. King County uses two retention schedules:

    Washington State Local Government Records Retention Schedules (external link)

    King County Records Retention Schedules (intranet link, available only to county employees within the King County network)

    For assistaince with using records retention schedules:

    King County Records Management Program
    records.management@kingcounty.gov
    (206) 477-6889


    Water rights records

    You can locate recorded water rights records at the 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 of the Washington State Department of Ecology (external link).


    Wills

    Wills filed with the clerk of the court by the executor or administrator of the will after the death of the individual who made the will:
    King County Superior Court Clerk

    Recorded wills (wills are not required to be recorded):
    King County Archives


    Zoning records and maps

    Current and recent zoning information:
    Department of Permitting and Environmental Review

    Historical zoning information and records (1937- 1969):
    King County Archives