The Seattle Room & Special Collections Video

Librarians from our Special Collections department discuss the importance of offering access to original historic materials in our Seattle Room.

Collections at the Central Library

The Central Library offers these collections:

  • Seattle Room and Seattle Collection: This collection features unique articles, news clippings, photographs, postcards, city documents, maps, atlases and illustrations, as well as autographed and signed works by famous Americans ranging from Helen Keller to T.S. Eliot. This collection is on Level 10.
  • Maritz Map Room: This collection contains over 40,000 circulating and reference sheet maps, and more than 100 current and historical atlases. This collection is on Level 9.
  • Aviation History Collection: Learn about aviation’s early history through publications developed by airplane manufacturers Boeing, Curtiss and Douglas, from 1930 to 1950. Items in this collection are accessible through the Seattle Room.
  • Genealogy Collection: Search more than 40,000 items tracing the history of North American families, dating back to Colonial times. Reference librarians are available on Level 9 to help with your research. You can also make an appointment to work with a genealogy librarian one-on-one.

Collections at Branches

The Douglass-Truth Branch houses one of the largest collections of African American literature and history on the West Coast. A building expansion in 2006 greatly expanded shelf space for the collection. The collection features more than 10,000 items, including biographies, magazines, literature, music and films.

Special Collections Online

Browse special collections items from the Seattle Room online through our digital collections. Explore the history of the city through postcards, photographs, periodicals, maps, menus and more.

Featured Collection

Northwest Photo Collection

The Northwest Photo Collection includes over 1300 historic photographs from Washington State locales such as the Olympic Peninsula, Mount Rainier, Deception Pass, Bellingham, Tacoma and Eastern Washington. Many recent additions to the collection are real photo postcards gathered by travelers as they visited locations such as Orcas Island, Snoqualmie Pass, Tacoma, Hood Canal and Lake Crescent. They provide plenty of inspiration for summer travel destinations that are a car ride away.

View the Northwest Photo Collection