About the Seattle Municipal Archives

Check out our short Introduction to the Seattle Municipal Archives e-learning course to learn more about SMA.

Location

The Seattle Municipal Archives is located on the third floor of Seattle's City Hall at 600 Fourth Avenue in downtown Seattle. The building is between Fourth and Fifth Avenues and James and Cherry Streets. The Archives is co-located with the Office of the City Clerk.

Hours

Research room appointments are recommended and appointments on Wednesdays and Fridays between 9 and 4 are preferred, although other days are also available for appointments. Please email archives@seattle.gov or call (206) 684-8353 to discuss research questions and to make appointments.

Access Policy

The records held by the Seattle Municipal Archives are open to the public and available for research use during business hours. To ensure the most efficient use of the records and staff time, researchers are encouraged to make appointments when requesting access to the Archives. Please see Visiting the Archives for more information about doing research on-site at the SMA.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Archives is to support the goals of the City of Seattle and the citizens of the City by identifying, acquiring, arranging, describing, preserving, and making accessible - for the use of City agencies, scholars, students, and the general public - the records of enduring value created or received by City agencies and elected officials.

Archives Staff

  • Anne Frantilla, City Archivist
  • Jeanie Fisher, Reference Archivist
  • Libby Hopfauf, Audio-Visual Archivist
  • Julie Irick, Photo Archivist
  • Julie Kerssen, Processing Archivist
  • Sarah Shipley, Digital Asset Manager

History of the Archives Program

The Seattle Municipal Archives was established in 1985 with a two-year grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). Housed in the Municipal Building, the Archives was a program of the City Clerk Division of the Office of the Comptroller from 1985 through 1992. A City Charter amendment, which took effect January 1, 1993, transferred the City Clerk and the Municipal Archives to the Legislative Department.

In 2004, the Archives moved into a new facility in the new City Hall. Researchers have access to a large research area with a view of Elliott Bay. The large storage area has moveable shelving for maximum storage space, and includes a freezer, ensuring a stable environment for long-term preservation of film.

As types of records created by city government change, the archives is evolving as well. With a growing quantity of born digital content, staff work to make as much content as possible available on digital platforms, accessible from anywhere in the world.

Holdings

The Municipal Archives holdings document the history, development, and activities of the agencies and elected officials of the City of Seattle. Strengths of the records include those documenting engineering, parks, urban planning, the legislative process and elected officials. Holdings include over 13,000 linear feet of textual records; 3,000 maps and drawings, 3,000 audiotapes; hundreds of hours of motion picture film; and over 1.5 million photographic images of City projects and personnel.

The Archives is open to the public. The holdings of the Archives are public records and are managed in accordance with the Revised Codes of Washington public records law and public disclosure law. For more information on holdings, please refer to the various indexes and guides. Archives staff work with teachers, faculty and students to provide support for use of primary sources in a learning environment.

Virtual Tour