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Washington Genealogy

Studying Washington genealogy is relatively easy because vital records are considered public domain and there are no restrictions on getting copies. That means you can access records back to 1907 or earlier without any difficulties.

Washington Vital Records

Because the documents are open to the public, you can access them for free in various locations, such as online databases or large genealogy websites. The Washington Digital Archives is another such site where you can find copies of records to print out on your own.

But if you need an official certified copy, then you will have to send an application to the Vital Records office in Olympia. If you want to drop it off in person and avoid the month-long wait, you can go to their service counter in Tumwater for a while-you-wait response. Make sure you use the right form if sending by mail or going in person, because they are different. The fee for each record you request is $20 (which is non-refundable).

The forms will require that you have the person's full name, the dates and locations of the relevant event as well as your own contact information.

For any vital records newer than 1921, you can also submit your request forms to your local health department office. And for Pierce, Spokane, King and Snohomish counties you can even get older pre-1907 records through their local health office as well.

Washington State Archives

Vital records are not the only source of Washington genealogy material, and the State Archives is another great resource. They operate the Digital Archive already mentioned where you can search for and see digital images of much of their collection. You can also print these documents out if you wish to have copies.

They also have a physical location where you can research their files. Their material is all government oriented, and includes state and county documents, old maps, tax files, judicial records, and more. They are located in Olympia and open during usual weekday business hours.

Other Washington Genealogy Resources

The State Archives is mainly a government repository of material and not as useful as other historical collections would be.

Another option is the Washington State Historical Society, and their research facility in Tacoma. Though not specifically oriented to genealogy, their collection of material can be helpful for some research. They have photographs, maps, manuscripts, personal documents and more. Their website has a lot of digital material that can be searched and also provides a full list of the collections at hand.

Other than the State Historical Society, there are other groups you can join that can provide you with more insight and possible access to personal material. The Washington State Genealogy Society is one state-wide choice that is probably the largest group. There are other regional groups, particularly those that focus on individual counties within the state. City groups like the Des Moines Historical Society or the Olympia Genealogy Society can be helpful for very specific areas in Washington genealogy.

State Resources

  • A Guide to Washington Genealogy
    Look ups, societies, publications available from societies and individuals, lost female ancestors queries, and related links for genealogy research in Washington. 




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