A holiday gift is arriving early for Seattle-area historians, students, and family researchers. The Seattle Public Library has acquired a portion of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s digital historical archives and, through an agreement with the vendor NewsBank, is able to offer access to the complete P-I archives online.

“This is a game-changer for our community’s and staff’s ability to more fully research local history,” said Andrew Harbison, the Library’s assistant director for Collections and Access. “From family wedding announcements, to obituaries, to photos and stories of historic news events, patrons can explore our region’s stories with greater breadth and depth either on their own, or with the assistance of our staff.”

The acquisition is made possible thanks to a generous grant from The Seattle Public Library Foundation, which also funded the Library’s purchase of the Seattle Times historical archives in 2010.

“We are thrilled to support the purchase of this incredible resource, which will contribute to a more complete picture of Seattle’s fascinating history,” said Jonna Ward, CEO of The Seattle Public Library Foundation.

“Over the decades, coverage by the P-I and the Seattle Times – the city’s two competing daily newspapers – often varied radically in perspective and coverage,” said Harbison. “Full digital access to both newspapers will greatly enhance the knowledge, awareness and understanding of our region’s history.”

The Library acquired the Post-Intelligencer’s digital archives from 1901 to 1935, and plans to eventually acquire the complete digital archives. Because of this acquisition, NewsBank (the publisher of the archives) is offering the Library full access to the Post-Intelligencer’s archives.


Library patrons can access both the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Seattle Times digital archives in the Magazines and Newspapers section of the Library website, where you’ll also find gems such as the Flipster magazine collection and full-text access too many newspapers, including the New York Times. Access to these digital resources is 24/7.

To access the Post-Intelligencer’s digital archives, you need a Library card (apply for instant access at spl.org/card) or a Library Link account (spl.org/LibraryLink), available for Seattle Public Schools teachers and students.

As with the Seattle Times archives, the P-I archives are fully searchable and allow users to read, magnify, print, and save digital copies.

For questions about and help accessing the archives, contact the Library’s AskUs service by email or chat at spl.org/ask or by phone at 206-386-4636.


As described in this HistoryLink article, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is Seattle’s oldest newspaper. Founded in 1863, “when Seattle was little more than a sawmill, a few dozen wooden buildings, and a couple of hundred souls,” it survived many sweeping changes, including “decades of cutthroat competition with its cross-town rival the Seattle Times,” until 2009. In that year, its owner the Hearst Corporation shut down the print operation. The P-I continued as on online-only newspaper at seattlepi.com.

You can also read about the Post-Intelligencer’s history in this P-I article and of some its illustrious photographers in this gallery.

Prior to the Library’s acquisition, the Post-Intelligencer’s digital archives were only available in the Seattle area through the University of Washington’s Suzzallo Library.

Post-Intelligencer editions prior to 1901 can be found through the Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers project jointly sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress.


The Library brings people, information and ideas together to enrich lives and build community. The Seattle Public Library’s buildings are currently closed, but we are providing Curbside Service for pickup of holds at 11 locations. Find out more at spl.org/Curbside, and find updates on our reopening process at the Library’s Road to Reopening page.

The Seattle Public Library has many other free online services, resources and programs available while its physical buildings remain closed. You can also contact the Library with any questions by phone at 206-386-4636. Staff are ready to answer questions and direct you to helpful resources and information during this challenging time.