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Search Tools & Resources

Databases, online lists, bibliographies, and external resources.
  • Collection Guides Search (Finding Aids)
    Finding aids are detailed guides to archival and photograph collections.
  • Digital Collections
    These are a good place to start a search as they contain a range of materials, including photographs, books, manuscripts and archives.
  • UW Libraries Search
    The library catalog provides brief descriptions about most publications housed in Special Collections, Special Collections’ digital collections, and some archival and manuscript collections.
  • Databases, Lists, and Bibliographies

    • Architectural Drawings Database
      This database contains descriptions of a portion of the architectural drawings held by Special Collections.
    • ArchiveGrid
      Database of over a million descriptions of archival collections from around the world. Historical documents, personal papers, manuscripts and family histories are described and cataloged by librarians and archivists. Researchers can learn about the contents of these collections, contact archives to arrange a visit to examine materials, or order copies.
    • City Directories List
      This list describes the city directories for the Pacific Northwest region that are housed in Special Collections. City directories are comparable to phone directories, but have more information. Also called business directories or gazeteers, they provide information about the occupations, residential addresses, and spouses of city residents, and list employees of businesses. Beginning in 1939, the directories include a “reverse” section describing the residents and businesses on each street.
    • Collection Guides Search (Finding Aids)
      Finding aids are detailed guides to archival and photograph collections. A small, but growing number are available online. All of them are available at the Special Collections Reference Desk. Ask reference staff for assistance.
    • Cumulative Name/Subject Indexes
      are important resources to help you locate references to individuals and topics you are researching in Special Collections manuscript and archival collections processed before 1980. These supplementary indexes contain references to names and subjects in archival and manuscript materials beyond those descriptions found in our finding aids.
    • Digital Collections
      Over 80 digitized collections from Special Collections’ holdings. These are a good place to start a search as they contain a range of materials, including photographs, books, manuscripts and archives. However, it should be noted that this is only a small representation of Special Collections’ materials.
    • Metsker Atlases
      List of Metsker atlases for the counties of Washington State that are available in Special Collections.
    • Pacific Northwest Photographers Database
      Created by Special Collections, this database provides brief information about photographers who operated in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska between ca.1870 and 1935.
    • Pacific Northwest Reference Collection
      This list is organized according to topic and includes descriptions of reference works about the Pacific Northwest housed in the Special Collection’s Reading Room.
    • Pacific Northwest Regional Newspaper and Periodical Index
      This database contains close to 100,000 citations from hundreds of newspapers and periodicals as well as monographs, theses, dissertations, scrapbooks, pamphlets, and other ephemera dealing with all aspects of life in Seattle, Washington state, and the Pacific Northwest from the mid-19th century to the present. Please note that Special Collection is currently converting the Regional Index from card files; the bulk of the Regional Index remains in a card file housed in the Special Collections Reading Room.
    • Pacific Northwest Scrapbook Collection List
      This list describes over 120 scrapbooks housed in Special Collections. The scrapbooks contain photographs, clippings, and other ephemera pertaining to community issues in the Pacific Northwest. Other scrapbooks may also exist in manuscript and University Archives collections.
    • Sayre Theatrical and Vaudeville Performers Database
      The J. Willis Sayre collection consists of more than 24,000 photographs of theatrical and vaudeville performers, as well as musicians and motion picture scenes, that played in Seattle between about 1900 and 1955 (some of the materials date back to the 1870s). The collector was J. Willis Sayre: drama critic, journalist, promoter. The database includes the data for all images in the database, but only includes links to digital images that are not under copyright restrictions.
    • UW Worldcat
      Search the UW Libraries’ collection and the collections of many other libraries worldwide using WorldCat, the world’s largest network of library-based content and services.
    • Washington State Jewish Archives Collection Database
      This database searches Washington State Jewish Archives (WSJA) collections held by Special Collections and provides textual descriptions of individual images. WSJA has over 350 photograph collections containing over 4000 photographs dating from the mid 1800s to present day, that relate to Jewish life and history in the Pacific Northwest, as well as nationally and internationally.
    • Washington State Newsstand UW restricted
      This database indexes 18 newspapers from Washington since the mid-1980s.
    • Comprehensive Guide to the Manuscripts Collection and to the Personal Papers in the University Archives (University of Washington Libraries, 1980)
      This volume includes brief descriptions of organizational records and personal papers held in Special Collections before 1980. Over 2000 collections are described, including collections highlighting African Americans, Northwest Art, Japanese Americans, Jewish Americans, North Cascade History, and Scandinavian Americans. The volume is a compilation of pre-1980 NUCMC entries (see below) for Special Collections.
    • Cumulative Name Index (CNI) and Cumulative Subject Index (CSI)
      Available in the Special Collections Reference area, these indices were maintained through the 1970s, and include names and subjects found in Special Collections’ manuscript and archival collections.
    • The Dictionary Catalog of the Pacific Northwest Collection of the University of Washington Libraries, Seattle (Boston, G. K. Hall, 1972) 
      This 6-volume set contains copies of catalog cards for the Pacific Northwest publications and serials in Special Collections. It is organized alphabetically and includes names of authors, titles, and subjects. Most, but not all, of the descriptions may now be found in the library’s online catalog.
    • Historical Records of Washington State: Records and Papers Held at Repositories (Washington State Historical Records Advisory Board, 1981) 
      Compiled by the Washington State Historical Records and Archives Project, volume two of this publication contains brief descriptions about archives and manuscript holdings before 1981.
    • NUCMC or the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections (Library of Congress) 
      The Library of Congress compiled brief descriptions of approximately 72,300 archival and manuscript collections located in 1406 different repositories, and published the results in printed volumes between 1959 and 1993. UW Special Collections are represented within the volumes. For entries from 1986 to the present, NUCMC descriptions are available online.