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Research Guides

House Histories: Books, Journals & Directories

Resources for researching Seattle area house histories at the UW Libraries and other institutions.

Directories & Phone Books

Special Collections has a number of Polk city directories for Seattle, King County, and the greater Puget Sound region.  Polk directories are particularly useful for their "reverse directory" information, which allows look-up by street address.  Holdings for Seattle include directories from 1889 to 1999, with reverse directories from 1937 to 1999 (Spec. Coll. Ref. City Directories & Pacific NW Coll. F899 S43 S42).

In addition to Polk's, Special Collections also houses a comprehensive collection of directories and phone books for Washington state, as well as the greater Pacific Northwest, from the late 1800s to the 2000s. Most Seattle and Puget Sound directories are housed in the Special Collections Reading Room, Reference City Directories.  Ask at the Reference Desk for additional volumes shelved in the Pacific Northwest Collection.  See the Directories and Phone Books Databases links below to view individual holdings.


Newspapers may also be a potential source for house history, including rental ad listings, notable sales, births and deaths, and other news.  The Seattle Times is digitized up to 1984 and a number of smaller area newspapers are available through the Library of Congress's Chronicling America project.  Most Puget Sound and Washington state newspapers in the UW Libraries are available on Microfilm - such as the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Microfilm A329) - viewable in the Microforms and Newspapers Collection.

Recommended Books @ UW Libraries

Classic Houses of Seattle

The UW Libraries has many books dealing with architecture in Seattle and the greater Puget Sound.  See this list of recommended books on the topic.  For a more comprehensive selection of titles, use the subject headings Architecture, Domestic -- Washington (State) -- Seattle and/or Seattle (Wash.) -- Buildings, structures, etc. in the library catalog.