National Archives at Seattle


Picturing the Century in the Pacific Northwest was developed as a companion to Picturing the Century: One Hundred Years of Photography from the National Archives, the national traveling exhibit that was recently on view at Seattle's Museum of History and Industry. As the introduction to the national exhibit states, "Old photographs are time machines. They allow us to look back in history, freeze a moment in time, and imagine ourselves as part of the past. Through historic photographs we can see how famous and ordinary folk appeared in both posed and unguarded moments. We can relive great events and everyday life in exquisite detail." The same is true for pictures that depict the 20th Century experience in the Pacific Northwest. While these photographs may not depict great national or international events and people, they do depict everyday life and significant events and contributions made by people located in the Pacific Northwest.

To commemorate the 20th century experience in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, the National Archives-Pacific Alaska Region presents a selection of historic photographs from our varied holdings. These photographs document the activities of Federal agencies in the Pacific Northwest and the often unique way they responded to the major events of the century, such as the U. S. Army contributing to the war effort by logging Sitka spruce in national forests for use in World War I airplanes or the Navy ship, USS Lexington, providing emergency power to the City of Tacoma during a time of drought.

The fifty images in this display were selected to reflect the same six themes of the national exhibit, as well as highlight the diversity of Federal agencies and photographic images found in the holdings of the Regional Archives in Seattle.