Our Special Collections celebrate Seattle’s history and place in the Pacific Northwest. Learn about genealogy, aviation or Seattle’s culture and history. Digging deep on a research project? Our reference librarians can help you with your genealogical or Seattle-related research. You can also access more than 30 special collections online.
The Seattle Room & Special Collections Video
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
The Frank Kunishige Collection showcases the Library's set of Kunishige's artistic textura tissue photographs. Kunishige was a skilled photographer and one of the founding members of the internationally recognized Seattle Camera Club. Born in Japan in 1878, Kunishige came to Seattle via San Francisco in 1917. He was well known for his use of Pictorialism, a popular painterly style of photography. Frank and his wife Gin Kunishige were forced to leave Seattle in 1942 when the United States’ began their Japanese internment policy. They were interned at the Minidoka camp in Idaho. Gin Kunishige donated the collection to the Library in 1961, a year after Frank's passing.
View the Frank Kunishige Collection