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Research Guides

Historical Visual Materials Collections: Home

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

What's in this Guide

The Historical Visual Materials Collections contain a variety of research materials such as photographs, architectural plans, postcards, historical maps, artwork and ephemera. Most of the items relate to various aspects of the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, its history, geography, arts, and industries. 

  • Photographs -  Over 1,000,000 documentary images mainly covering an extensive geographical area, in particular the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, and the Yukon. There are also photographs of other areas of the United States and other countries. There are also many materials for the study of photography including historical formats such as glass lantern slides, photographic postcards, daguerreotype, tintypes, ambrotypes, cyanotypes and other unusual formats. The collection also contains many books, pamphlets, and ephemera on historical photographic processes. 

  • Artwork and Ephemera -- Artwork from 1800s-2000s including engravings, drawings, watercolors, and paintings by various artists. Also visual ephemera including such things as souvenirs related to gas, food and lodging, as well as, fruit and other labels, trade cards, matchbooks, business cards, first day cover envelopes, and other materials. 

  • Architectural Records - Records documenting the built environment in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska including architectural plans, drawings, and renderings, and resources such as photographs, construction specifications, correspondence, books and pamphlets, advertising and promotion materials, and newspaper and periodical articles.

  • Moving Images Film and video in various formats dating back to 1914. They cover a wide variety of topics including travel and family life, activities and research related to the UW, industries such as plywood manufacturing, logging, fishing, whaling, and construction, political figures, civil rights and labor, and other documentation of the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. The collection also includes moving images from other parts of the country and the world including documentation of the drug trade in Burma, oil well fires in Saudi Arabia, traditional dance in India and other topics. 

  • Maps -  Historical and rare maps from 16th-century world maps to 19th and early 20th-century Pacific Northwest maps and bird's-eye views.

Donating Items to Special Collections

Our collecting focus is the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, but we also collect materials from around the world if the creator or collector has a tie with the Northwest or if the materials relate to an academic area of study at the UW.

Contact Special Collections at to discuss gifts of photographs, moving images, or architectural records.

Ordering Reproductions

Find something you like? You may order reproductions of materials in Special Collections in the form of photocopies, prints or digital scans.

Guides for materials outside of Special Collections

Images Guide 
Guide to high-quality image databases and resources. Interdisciplinary image content, search strategies, evaluating images, & image citation guide.
Architecture Guide

This guide provides information and resources about architecture and built environments at the UW Libraries.

Audio & Video Guide 
This guide provides links to and information about audio and video resources at the UW and beyond.

Map Collection and Cartographic Information Services Unit 
This Guide provides research help for resources located in the Map Collection & Cartographic Information Services Unit of Suzzallo Library. The UW Libraries Map Collection includes over 270,000 map sheets, 86,000 aerial photographs, and 2,000 atlases.

Architectural Drawings Collection Research Archivist

Kelly Daviduke

(206) 685-4480