Be a Part of History

by Jerry Handfield, Washington State Archivist
Washington Territory Logo

In recognition of the March 2, 2003 anniversary of Washington Territory, the Washington State Archives is pursuing two projects to help preserve and disseminate Washington's territorial history throughout the state.

The Washington State Archives and Washington State Library is working in partnership to digitize and put on the Internet the Washington Territorial County Auditors' censuses. Covering varying years through the 1850s and 1890s, these censuses were taken to prove that Washington Territory had sufficient population to qualify for statehood. These records are a significant part of Washington's history because they partially fill the gap of information caused by the loss of the 1890 federal census that was destroyed by a fire in 1921.

This collaborative project will result in preservation quality microfilm of these records as well as online access. The Office of Secretary of State is coordinating volunteers to make the Washington Territorial Censuses available online for a surname index search. Volunteers may work from home to input census data into a database created by the Office or may work off-line in an electronic database. Passwords, instructions, and transcribed copies of the censuses will be provided by those interested in volunteering.

Also, the Archives is creating a Speaker's Bureau list related to territorial history. The list would consist of people knowledgeable about Washington's Territorial history and be made available to museums, libraries, schools, historical societies, or other organizations that would be interested in hosting a speaker. Our public list of speakers will contain only the name of the speaker, the topic(s), and telephone number or email address.

I encourage anyone who is interested in preserving and passing history onto the next generation to be a part of these important projects. If you are interested in these projects, please send us the following information either electronically or by mail.

Census Project Information

Email Address
Phone Number
Different skills i.e. proofreading or entering data

Speaker's Bureau Information

Email Address
Phone Number
Speaking Topics
Fees, i.e., mileage or honorarium

If you have any questions, please contact me, Jerry Handfield, at (360) 586-2664 or Andrea Watts, at (360) 902-4176.

Office of the Secretary of State
PO Box 40220
Olympia, WA 98504-0220

I look forward to working with you during the Territorial commemoration next year.


Jerry Handfield

An Update on the Washington Territorial Census Project

by State Archivist Jerry Handfield

Thanks to all of you, especially the volunteers who have signed up to index Washington's territorial county censuses. Since October 2002, the Secretary of State's Office has made great strides with the posting of seven county censuses and two county naturalization indexes on our website. About ten more censuses are completed and will be posted soon. The website is

Please check our site regularly to see if a census from your county has been posted. By July 2003 we will have images available from all the censuses in the Washington State Archives. I would appreciate any feedback regarding our site since it was designed in part to serve genealogists and family historians.

Your amazing energy is also allowing us to expand the project to include naturalization records too. The Grant County Genealogical Society completed the first naturalization index and several more naturalization indexes will be posted soon.

The Speaker's Bureau list is also available on-line. If your group is interested in hosting a speaker on territorial history, I encourage you to consult this list which will be updated regularly. Marlys Rudeen from the Washington State Library is also creating a presentation to promote the Territorial Census project and the genealogical resources the library offers. If your society is interested a presentation, please call Marlys at (360) 704-7132 or

Again, I want to thank everyone who has contributed on this project. Together we are preserving Washington's valuable legal and historical records for future generations.

Jerry Handfield

South King County Genealogical Society
P.O. Box 3174, Kent, WA 98089-0203
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