What’s New in the ‘Hood: Seattle Public Schools’ Archive

If you have been a regular reader of this blog you may remember that in 2014 Historic Seattle organized a series of tours of repositories in the Seattle area as part of a “Digging Deeper” series.  I was lucky enough to tour and blog about a few of the stops.  Here are the blog links for the ones I could attend:

This year Luci Baker Johnson, a genealogist and program chair for Historic Seattle, organized a second set of tours for the Digging Deeper Research Series with the inaugaral tour of the Seattle Public Schools Archives by Aaren Purcell, Archivist.  these tours are usually a presentation of the type of materials held and how to access them, followed by a tour of the “back rooms” including storage stacks and work rooms.

SPS student recordsThe approximately 25 attendees saw the school records of over a million students of the Seattle Public Schools, records that are of particular interest to the genealogists with ancestors from the area. These records are on microfiche and stored in the metal cabinet you see in the photo on the left. (Aaren is behind the cabinet.)





SPS artAlso, a part of the collection are art works by famous and not so famous local artists.

Or, how about the 1964 Garfield High School annual with a picture of Jimi Hendrix in it?






SPS Bruce LeeOr, the grade record of Bruce Lee.

Also included are trophies of inter-school (between Seattle schools only) rivalries, banners, annuals, school newspapers, School Board minutes, annual reports (earliest 1885), photographs, historic register applications, aerial photos (did you live near a school, perhaps the house was captured?) and school planning documents.


SPS brown boxesAaren then showed us the work rooms where they are presently cataloging and preserving school newspapers.  We then went into the stacks.  Note the percentage of brown boxes in the photo on the left–those are the materials that are not yet cataloged and therefore are inaccessible.  Aaren has volunteers to help (contact her if you would like to help.) but can only take a few at a time.

If you would like to access the archive material, Aaren recommends you email her first with your request at least 24 hours in advance (weekends don’t count) so she can better respond to your specific need.

Luci was a great facilitator and Aaren a  terrific host. Thanks to both!

The next session is at the Seattle Department of Planning and Development (DPD) on March 5.  I have been here several times and accessed the archives for the plans of my house, remodeled in 1997-1998.  It will be fun getting into the back room.  You can still sign up for this tour and others of the series; just use the Digging Deeper link in the second paragraph above.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last posting:  presented “House Histories Wherever You Live” to SGS which was enthusiastically received.  I rolled out my presentation website for them which contains reference materials, copies of the syllabus and links to articles about house histories.  It will be interesting to see if this works. While giving the presentation, I found things I wanted to improve, which I am now correcting because I give it again in mid-March.  I continue to refine the “Overview of Scandinavian Resources” which has been a bear-cat to get under control.  This last weekend I finally felt like it was settling down.  Attended a special SGS Board meeting, but I am behind in getting the next newsletter out (must be mailed by 24 February.)


2 comments on “What’s New in the ‘Hood: Seattle Public Schools’ Archive

  1. Grace Keir says:

    Jill, I’m impressed with what the Seattle schools are doing to preserve records. My high school decided to get rid of old records and advertised in the local paper that if anyone wanted there records, they could pick them up. Thanks to my cousin who lives in my hometown, he saved mine from going in the trash. How sad to see that happen. Grace

  2. […] What’s New in the ‘Hood: Seattle Public Schools’ Archive by Jill Morelli on Genealogy […]

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