National Archives at Seattle

Services for the Public

Genealogy Research

Microfilm Holdings at the National Archives at Seattle

The Seattle facility has extensive microfilm holdings of value for genealogy research, among them:

  • Federal population censuses for all States, 1790-1930 (including indexes for 1880, 1900, 1910, and 1920);
  • military service records;
  • pension and bounty land warrant applications;
  • some passenger arrival and naturalization records;
  • records relating to the Five Civilized Tribes.

Check out our Microfilm Holdings Guide for more information.  

Microfilm readers and reader-printers are available without appointment. A 2-hour limit is imposed when researchers are waiting. Researchers using microfilm do not need a researcher's ID card.

E-mail your inquiry to

Call the Seattle facility at (206) 336-5115.

Online Resources

The National Archives has worked with several different partners to digitize select microfilm publications.  Many of the microfilm series available to view at the National Archives at Seattle have been digitized.    See our list of publications that have been digitized, and links to access them. 


Historical Research

Original records

NARA's Pacific Alaska Region (Seattle) has more than 30,000 cubic feet of archival holdings, among them textual documents, photographs, maps, and architectural drawings, dating from the 1850s to the 1980s. These archival holdings were created or received by the Federal courts and over 60 Federal agencies in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. Federal law requires that agencies transfer permanently valuable, noncurrent records to NARA.

Among subjects of local interest are: Chinese exclusion, the homefront during World War II, the work of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Native Americans, the merchant marine service, and smuggling.

The archival holdings are arranged by record group (abbreviated RG), a body of records from an agency or bureau identified by an RG number. Selected finding aids, including a comprehensive guide to archival holdings, are available by mail and online. Research can be initiated in person, or by telephone, mail, or electronic mail at Individuals who wish to use archival holdings on-site will facilitate their research by calling before visiting.

Before using archival holdings, every researcher must obtain a researcher identification card. An applicant must show identification that includes a photograph, such as a driver's license, passport, or school or business identification card, and complete a short form giving name, address, telephone number, and brief description of the proposed research topic. A researcher ID card, valid for 1 years and renewable, is then issued. It must be presented during each research visit.

Microfilmed records

In addition to unique original records, the Seattle facility has extensive holdings of National Archives microfilm publications. These microfilm publications reproduce basic documentation for the study of history, economics, public administration, political science, law, ethnology, genealogy, and other subjects. Included are: records of U.S. diplomatic missions worldwide, material relating to the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, German records captured at the end of World War II, and territorial papers. Selected microfilm can be loaned to academic institutions.

Microfilm readers and reader-printers are available without appointment. A 2 hour limit is imposed when researchers are waiting.


For a fee, the staff will make or arrange for copies of documents, including certified copies for legal use, unless the physical condition of the documents does not allow reproduction. Copies of microfilm can be made at self-service copiers or by other arrangement for a fee. Check out our brief guide on ordering copies for more information.  


The National Archives at Seattle Main Page