What’s New in the ‘Hood: King County Archives

2014 0913 KCA LuciOn Saturday, 13 September, Historic Seattle hosted another of their “Digging Deeper” series of tours of archives/repositories in the Seattle area.  The King County Archives staff opened up the archives off-hours to a group of 15 of us for the last tour of the series and a spectacular one it was.  This was a stellar presentation, tour and handouts!  We even had cookies!

Luci Baker Johnson of the program staff of Historic Seattle introduced us to the archives staff—see photo at left (Luci, Kelley Gradey and Carol Shenk, Director of the Archives) . Carol gave an overview of the holdings of this archive and how to access the documents.  I was one of three attendees who had used this repository prior to the tour (when I was pulling the documents for the house history of my home.)  I had no idea the extent of the other documents that can add even more depth to place-based research.

Seattle does not make this easy! The title company does not hand you a nice packet of all of the deeds etc. of a property when you purchase it as we received when we purchased our home in Oklahoma.  Instead, you have to research in at least three different archives and online to gather the requisite documents to get to the equivalent.  It consumes a lot of time for just the document pulling.  And this does not include the architectural assessment of the house, its construction and the neighborhood which is a critical element of a house history.

2014 0913 KCA GregAfter Carol completed her overview, Greg Lange, also on staff and formerly of the Puget Sound Regional Archives,(see photo no.2) used a house in West Seattle as a case study to illustrate the extent of the holdings.

Greg “walked us through” the variety of documents which are available at the Archives and of help to the house historian in King County. The following were included in our packet:

  1. Cadastral Survey Map (1862)
  2. Deed granter/grantor index showing a sale (1922)
  3. a Deed (1871)
  4. map of incorporations (the property my house sits on was incorporated in 1891)
  5. Plat maps (2, one of which was a revision to accommodate the topography) (1909)
  6. Statutory Warranty Deed (you can count the tax stamps and if you know the tax rate and the conversion rate you can calculate the appraised value of the improvements)  (1962)
  7. Real estate Tax Receipt (1962)
  8. List of building permits (latest entry 1919)
  9. Building Permit Street Ledger (1910)
  10. Map by Baist’s Real Estate Atlas of Surveys (1912).  Comparable to Sanborn Insurance Maps but compiled for the real estate industry
  11. Property cards (OK, everyone in the country can now be envious–each card has a photo of the improvement on the property taken in 1936 conducted by  the WPA.)
  12. Marriage certificate (1913) (see photo no. 3: the first recorded marriage of early settlers in Seattle, David Denney and Louisa Boren in 1853)
  13. Death certificate (1924)
  14. Bill of Sale (1915)
  15. Honorable Military Discharge (1919)

2014 0913 KCA 1st marriageAll these documents reside at the King County Archives! These were just the documents they showed us.  They gave us numerous finding aids and how to guides to make research at the King County Archives easier.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting: made some progress on my BCG Case Study; committed to attending SLIG 2015 (Advanced Practicum) and Professional Management Conference (PMC) sponsored by Association of Professional Genealogists (APG); decided to submit a poster session proposal “Gender Balance in Authorship in Genealogical Publications,” finalized arrangements with Jefferson County Genealogical Society for an all-day presentation in March; finalized arrangements with Whatcom County GS for an all day presentation in early October.  Was accepted to make 3 presentations at the local LDS Family History Expo 2014 and received my rejection on my presentation proposals from Ohio GS.  Busy time ahead.

2 comments on “What’s New in the ‘Hood: King County Archives

  1. a gray says:

    This is a very informative and valuable post for anyone seeking to related research.

  2. […] The first 3-hour workshop will take place on Saturday, July 9th and will be conducted by Carol Shenk and Greg Lange from the King County Archives. It’s an expansion on what they introduced in 2014 and was blogged about here: What’s New in the Hood: King County Archives. […]

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