Seattle Culture & Local History
Browse items from the Seattle Room through our Special Collections Online. Explore the history of the city through postcards, photographs, periodicals, maps, menus and more.
The Helix was Seattle's first underground newspaper and was published from March 1967 to June 1970. The contents are representative of the late 1960s counterculture covering events such as police misconduct and brutality, riots in American cities, assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and others, the Vietnam War, Native American fishing rights and more.
View the Helix Collection
Seattle Culture & Local History Resources
- A Gourmet’s Notebook Collection Find reviews published between 1977 and 1991 for popular Seattle restaurants such as Canlis, the Dahlia Lounge and Ivar’s Acres of Clams.
- Alaska Yukon Pacific Digital Collection Seattle’s first World’s Fair, the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, made Seattle a Pacific Rim gateway. View materials from SPL and the Museum of History and Industry in this collection.
- Arthur C. Pillsbury Collection See photographs of the Klondike Gold Rush, California, Oregon and Washington taken by Arthur C. Pillsbury (1870-1946) between about 1896 and 1900.
- Black Culture and History Collection Find materials relating primarily to Black culture and history in the Puget Sound area.
- Bungalow Magazine This early 20th century magazine celebrated Seattle’s popular bungalow houses with photographs and architectural plans of selected homes. Use our map to see featured bungalows that still exist today.
- Century 21 Digital Collection Seattle’s 1962 World’s Fair showcased Seattle as a space-age city. See photos, brochures, postcards and other items related to Seattle’s 1960s vision of the future.
- COVID-19 Community Collection Find photos, videos, songs, podcasts, artwork, stories and other materials chronicling life in the Seattle area during the pandemic.
- Donald Schmechel Oral History Collection Watch oral histories with prominent figures in the Pacific Northwest including artists Jacob Lawrence and Kenneth Callahan; Governors Albert Rosellini and Dixy Lee Ray and Reverends David Colwell and Samuel McKinney.
- Earshot Jazz Digital Collection Explore Seattle's Jazz scene, past and present, through the lens of this local Seattle jazz magazine.
- Edward S. Curtis Digital Collection Photographer Edward S. Curtis devoted two decades to making “The North American Indian,” an early 20th century photography and text project studying Western tribes.
- Frank A. Kunishige Collection Study the 56 images by internationally recognized Seattle Camera Club member Frank Kunishige, whose artistic work includes images of flowers, landscapes, cityscapes and nudes.
- George Gulacsik Space Needle Photograph Collection The Space Needle’s construction during the early 1960s was an epic feat of architecture and design. George Gulacsik chronicled the project with over 2000 photos. Browse through our timeline to see the Needle’s construction milestones.
- Helix Seattle's first underground newspaper which was published from March 1967 to June 1970. The paper was founded by Paul Dorpat, with contents representative of the late 1960s counterculture.
- Jack Large Photo Collection This collection of nearly 1,200 photograph slides documents the adventures and counterculture lifestyle of photographer Jack Large and his artist friends through the late sixties in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest.
- Jewish Transcript This newspaper covered local news from Seattle’s Jewish community as well as international reporting on events like World War II and the settlement of Israel.
- Lu Jacobson Collection of Latimer and Denny Family Material See letters, photographs and other ephemera from two of Seattle's early families.
- Maps and Atlases Collection See maps and atlases depicting the changing landscape of Seattle and other areas in the Pacific Northwest. Take a look at our historic map resources page to browse maps by location.
- Municipal News The Municipal News, a civics publication dating back to 1911, offers information about the social, political and economic history of King County.
- Northwest Art Collection Prints, drawings and paintings by artists Mark Tobey, Kenneth Callahan, Helmi Juvonen, Robert Cranston Lee and others celebrate the Northwest. Many pieces hail from the 1934 Public Works of Art Project.
- Northwest Photo Collection See historic photographs from Washington State locales such as the Olympic Peninsula, Mount Rainier, Deception Pass, Bellingham, and Eastern Washington.
- Northwest Subject Index Browse the index to find citations for books, newspaper and magazine articles related to local topics such as Pioneer Square and the Lake Washington Ship Canal.
- Pacific Builder and Engineer Read digital editions of this weekly Northwest construction and engineering publication from 1906-1910. Issues document notable construction news in the Pacific Northwest.
- Parker McAllister Collection Seattle Times staff artist Parker McAllister’s vibrant watercolors dating from the 1950s celebrate settlement of the Northwest, with images of ships, tribes and historic events like the search for the Northwest Passage.
- Peter Steinbrueck Pike Place Market Collection Seattle’s Pike Place Market became a historic district in 1971, the result of grassroots organizers led by Victor Steinbrueck. This collection features blueprints, posters, articles and papers related to the market.
- Seattle and King County Buildings History Architecture buffs can find tools to research the history of homes, commercial buildings, parks and gardens, roads, bridges and other buildings in this guide .
- Seattle City Directories Genealogy and history researchers can search this collection to find information about Seattle residents, businesses and organizations.
- Seattle Genealogical Society Bulletin Dig into five decades of the Seattle Genealogical Society Bulletin for information about local families. This collection is available via partnership with the Seattle Genealogical Society.
- Seattle Historic Postcard Collection Highlights of early 20th century Seattle, as depicted through our historic postcards. Cards include images of buildings, attractions and events from the 1900s to the 1960s along with messages between friends and family.
- Seattle Historical Photograph Collection More than 2,000 images reveal Seattle’s evolution. Early photos capture Seattle’s pioneers, the Great Fire of 1889 and the Denny Regrade along with historical buildings, streets and landmarks.
- Seattle Jazz Archive Explore oral histories of important members of Seattle’s rich jazz community. The collection includes interviews with Seattle musicians, singers and community members who performed and experienced the city’s jazz scene.
- Seattle Mail and Herald This early 20th century newspaper reported on topics such as the Alaskan Gold Rush, the Lake Washington Ship Canal and the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition and included with portraits of notable Seattleites.
- Seattle Neighborhood History Project Use our research portal to view items related to your neighborhood’s history available at the library and other archives. Photos, historical articles and documents tell tales from the past.
- Seattle Regrade Photograph Collection Seattle’s massive effort to regrade and flatten much of the city’s hilly landscape is documented in this 1905-1908 photo album. Explore our map to see the modern day photo locations.
- Seattle Room Finding Aids Find inventories for the Seattle Room’s archival collections including the Seattle Post-Intelligencer Library Collection, the Seattle World’s Fair Collection, the Congress for Racial Equality Collection and World War II posters.
- Seattle Room Menu Collection This collection contains of hundreds of menus collected over several decades, each revealing the food tastes of Seattle diners and prices paid for fine and casual dining around town.
- Seattle Sawdust This collection presents some of Seattle's historical "sawdust"- unique and interesting materials from The Seattle Public Library's Seattle Collection.
- Suzanne Hittman Collection of the Pike Place Market Explore the early history of the Pike Place Market through letters, receipts, plans, rental agreements and other documents related to the market’s business.
- Town Crier Seattle’s early arts, music and culture scene are chronicled in this weekly publication. Our digital collection includes issues published from 1912 to 1938
- University District Oral History Project University of Washington Museology Graduate students conducted these oral history interviews in an effort to chronicle life on the University District neighborhood known as “The Ave.”
- Werner Lenggenhager Photo Collection Seattle streetscapes and architecture are captured in the images shot by Werner Lenggenhager, a hobby photographer who gave nearly 30,000 prints to the library, many of which are digitized here.
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