Research Your Ancestry
The Seattle Public Library’s Genealogy Collection is one of the largest in the Pacific Northwest. There are two genealogy librarians available to assist with research. We offer tours of our collection as well as free classes on genealogical research. You can use our online databases, schedule 30-minute appointments with a genealogy librarian or visit our Genealogy Collection to find out about your family’s roots.
Level 9 of the Central Library is closed at this time. Some Genealogy Collection materials are available for retrieval to level 3. Please contact us for assistance on accessing the Genealogy Collection.
Online Genealogy Resources
Research the past online with historic books, periodicals and records through HeritageQuest online. Review biographical dictionaries in the Biography and Genealogy Master Index and delve into historic newspapers via America's Genealogy Bank, The New York Times (1851-2011) and Seattle Times (1895-present). Explore genealogy records from around the world using Ancestry Library Edition in a library branch. Review Sanborn Digital maps (1867-1970) of Puget Sound and other North American communities.
Dating from 1926, it is the largest and primary genealogy resource in Washington State. At the Central Library, you can search from among more than 45,000 items tracing the history of North American families and dating back to Colonial times. Read historical and census records, immigration lists, military records, genealogy guidebooks on various topics, and more. Genealogy librarians can help with your research.
Classes and tours
We offer tours of the Central Library’s genealogy section, collection and services. Each tour offers an overview of the collection and ways to search the online catalog and other resources. Ready for a deep dive? You can take free classes on Genealogy: Getting Started which provides an overview and examples to guide you in beginning family history research, or Genealogy: Databases and the Internet, which teaches how to use our online resources. Search our event calendar for upcoming genealogy classes.
Genealogy Assistance and Appointments
While our buildings are closed, you can request a virtual appointment with a genealogy librarian who can help direct you to the best resources for your research. After you submit a request we will contact you to schedule a time for your 30 minute appointment.
You can find Library tools for genealogical research in the online resources section. These are some other sites we recommend.
Canadian Genealogy Centre: Search the National Archives of Canada, National Library of Canada and the Genealogy Centre.
Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers: Search and read newspaper pages from 1836-1922, and find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. From the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress.
Cyndi's List of Genealogy Sites: Over 300,000 Web sites for the genealogist. Sites are categorized and cross-referenced by many categories. Particularly good for access to library catalogs around the world.
Fiske Genealogical Foundation Library: Provides information on the Fiske Library holdings and lists programs in their quarterly online newsletter. This library was founded by Arthur Fiske in 1971.
GENUKI (Genealogy of the United Kingdom and Ireland): This large collection of genealogical information pages run by volunteers covers England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. Includes a link to the UK National Archives. GENUKI is the British equivalent of the USGenWeb site.
National Archives and Records Administration: Maintains retired records from federal agencies and provides information about locating immigration, land, military, and census records, including the newly released 1940 U.S. Census.
National Union Catalog of Manuscripts (NUCMC): A searchable catalog of manuscript collections across the U.S. Search by both surname and location. This material is not accessible via interlibrary loan.
One-Step Webpages by Stephen P. Morse: Provides tools for finding your ancestors in passenger lists, census and public records. Includes an Enumeration District finder for the newly released 1940 U.S. Census.
RootsWeb: The Internet's oldest and largest free genealogy community.
Seattle Genealogical Society: Provides information on the library holdings and programs of the oldest genealogical society in Washington State founded in 1923. Also provides links to genealogy related web sites with emphasis on the Pacific Northwest.
The Digital Archives from the Washington Secretary of State: Historic records of Washington State ancestors from State records including Territorial censuses and naturalization records.
USGenWeb Project: A volunteer project to provide Internet sites for genealogical research in every county and state of the U.S. Includes access to the USGW Digital Library transcription project and a variety of other special projects and sites.