Fate of Seattle U.S. National Archives Facility Still in Limbo

The Seattle facility of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) remains closed because of the pandemic, but is still likely to be sold; state officials are working to keep the priceless materials held in the federal facility from leaving Washington.

It’s been six months since the news services reported that the federal government, without any public input, intended to sell the Seattle facility of the National Archives and move its contents – millions of priceless maps, documents, photos and other records of Pacific Northwest history – out of state.

With only a small fraction of the materials in Seattle currently digitized, a move – perhaps to the NARA facility in Riverside, Calif. — would mean that one-of-a-kind federal records related to such things as Native American treaties, the Chinese-American Exclusion Act, and other aspects of history critical to researchers, educators, tribes and others would be far less accessible. Historians and tribal representatives were blindsided by news of the intended sale, and expressed their displeasure at an invitation-only meeting at the facility in February.

The archives serve the Pacific Alaska Region and are located on Sand Point Way near Magnuson Park. Sitting on 10 acres along the Burke-Gilman Trail, the location is prime real estate in one of the city’s nicest neighborhoods. The facility itself is housed in a World War II-era warehouse, which was converted in the early 1960s and which is operated by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The Seattle office, and most NARA facilities, have been closed to the public since March 23 because of COVID-19.

In spite of the pandemic, multiple processes appear to still be underway to try and prevent the archival materials, if not the actual NARA facility itself, from leaving Washington.

You can read more in an article by Feliks Banel in the NYNorthwest web site at: https://mynorthwest.com/2010452/seattle-national-archives-in-limbo/.

4 Comments

Shameful! And who is the real estate developer behind this? Yet another blatant example of corruption and self dealing at the highest levels of government! The’ll be selling Puerto Rico next….oh, yeah, already suggested that…

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Thank you for your continued coverage of this story! The NARA facility in Seattle has been an important and very accessible resource for genealogists and historians for several generations, and it enjoys considerable local support.

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Maybe relocate it to another area of the State where there is a need for good workers to be employed. Seattle is not very hospitable right now and employees probably feel unsafe getting back and forth.

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