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Research Guides

Historical Visual Materials Collections: Photographs

This guide lists a variety of research materials such as photographs, architectural plans, postcards, historical maps, artwork and ephemera.

Search for Photographs

Charles Thomas Parsloe, Jr., in a role from the burlesque play ILL TREATED ILL TRAVATORE

(19th Century Actors Digital Colle

The Photograph Collections include over 1,000,000 documentary images covering an extensive geographical area, in particular western Washington, Alaska, and the Yukon.

Such topics as Native Americans, fishing and logging industries, mountaineering, the Klondike gold rush, Jewish life and history, and theatre and vaudeville are well represented in this extensive research collection.

Included are the works of early notable Washington Territory and regional photographers such as Edward S. Curtis, Asahel Curtis, Eric. A. Hegg, and Clark Kinsey. Their images chronicle the events and daily lives of the people who contributed to the development and character of this region.

Examples of materials in this collection include black-and-white photographic prints and negatives, glass lantern slides, and 35mm film color slides, along with unusual and rare photographic formats, such as stereocards and daguerrotypes.

About the Photograph Collections

Digital Collections

Over 60 digitized collections comprising over 55,000 digital images from Special Collections holdings. Materials include photographs, maps, newspapers, posters, and other media .

Finding Aids for Photographs

Documentary photograph collections include black-and-white photographic prints and negatives, glass lantern slides, 35mm color slides, and postcards, along with rare formats such as stereocards and daguerrotypes.

Pacific Northwest Photographers Database

This database is a listing of photographers who operated in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska during the period from about the 1870s to 1935. It provides information regarding the photographers name and the city, state and year that the photographer had an established business. In some cases, it includes the studio address. Most of the information in this database was extracted from city directories and vertical files held in Special Collections.

Sayre Theatrical and Vaudeville Performers Database 

The J. Willis Sayre collection consists of more than 24,000 photographs of theatrical and vaudeville performers, as well as musicians and motion picture scenes, that played in Seattle between about 1900 and 1955 (some of the materials date back to the 1870s). The collector was J. Willis Sayre: drama critic, journalist, promoter. The database includes the data for all images in the database, but only includes links to digital images that are not under copyright restrictions.

Washington State Jewish Archives Photograph Collection Database

This database searches Washington State Jewish Archives (WSJA) photograph collections held by Special Collections and provides textual descriptions of individual images. WSJA has over 350 photograph collections containing over 4000 photographs dating from the mid 1800s to present day, that relate to Jewish life and history in the Pacific Northwest, as well as nationally and internationally.


Hardcopy lists

The News and Information Services database list of contact prints through the 1950s is not available to search online. Visit the Special Collections Reference Desk for assistance (hours and location).