October is Washington Archives Month

Washington’s long and lively tradition of fairs and festivals is the theme of the state’s fifth annual Archives Month this October. Throughout October, the public is encouraged to explore, free of charge, millions of items through the State Archives and its Digital Archives, historical societies, museums, public libraries, and university special collections.

“Washingtonians love going to fairs and festivals throughout our state. They’re a great way for people to connect with their community. This year’s Archives Month program does a very good job of highlighting how much we value and appreciate our fairs and festivals and the role they play,” said Secretary of State Sam Reed. “Our State Archives is crucial to preserving Washington’s history so people now and in the future can learn about the individuals, events and stories that make our state’s past so interesting and important. If somebody wants to explore a part of Washington’s history, or even their own family roots, Archives can direct them toward the documents and resources that will help them in their search.”

All 31 days in October are devoted to helping the public appreciate and better understand historical records, how to preserve them and how to use them to enrich people’s everyday lives, said State Archivist Jerry Handfield. “The State Archives has millions of documents, resources and know-how to help you research any aspect of Washington history, or your own personal history,” said Handfield, adding that many history buffs and genealogists use the State Archives extensively. “We have photos, records and documents on many different subjects. This year’s Archives Month theme is a small example of what we have for the public. Crime, marriage, divorce, naturalization, and many family mysteries — you find it all at the Archives.”

To celebrate the month-long event, the State Archives is distributing free copies of this year’s Archives Month poster. Free copies of the 2011 poster will be available in the Office of Secretary of State, located on the second floor of the Legislative Building in Olympia, and at the State Archives Building, located at 1129 Washington St. SE in Olympia. The posters also will be found in the Regional Archives branches in Bellevue, Bellingham, Cheney and Ellensburg. Supplies are limited.

People are encouraged to attend one of the free events and workshops being held throughout Washington in conjunction with Archives Month. They include:

— “Basics of Archives” | It’s a free one-day workshop for those who work with historical records but may not be trained archivists. Oct. 21, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., National Archives and Records Administration – Pacific Alaska Region, 6125 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle.

— “Genealogy Open House” | Search the Digital Archives, use the Eastern Washington Regional Archives, tour both facilities, and learn how to preserve digital treasures. Oct. 21, 2 p.m. – 4 p.m., State Archives’ Eastern Regional Branch and Digital Archives, 960 Washington St., Cheney.

— “Northwest Regional Archives Open House” | Learn about the archival resources and treasures at the State Archives’ Northwest Regional Branch, the Western Washington University Archives & Records Center and the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies. Oct. 22, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., WWU campus, 808 – 25th St., Bellingham.

— “Central Regional Archives Open House” | Tour the Central branch facility and view available records there. Oct. 25, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m., corner of 14th Street and D Street, Ellensburg.

— “Basics of Historical Research Workshop” | A practical, one-day workshop for students, teachers, local heritage volunteers and family researchers who are not trained. Oct. 29, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m., State Archives’ Puget Sound Regional Branch, Pritchard-Fleming Building, 3000 Landerholm Circle SE, Room N-201, Bellevue.

— “Seattle Area Archives Fair” | It’s a second chance to meet with representatives of local archives, learn about their collections of historical records and get answers to questions about local history. Oct. 29, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., State Archives’ Puget Sound Regional Branch, Pritchard-Fleming Building, 3000 Landerholm Circle SE, Bellevue.

October was officially designated Washington’s Archives Month by Governor Chris Gregoire. Archives Month is co-sponsored by Washington State Archives; National Archives and Records Administration, Pacific Alaska Region; and the Washington State Historical Records Advisory Board. For more information about Archives Month, contact Benjamin Helle at (360) 586-7320 or benjamin.helle@sos.wa.gov . The State Archives houses millions of historic items and is the home for the nation’s first Digital Archives (located on the Eastern Washington University campus in Cheney), which has electronically preserved records in an award-winning online database.

The 2011 Archives Month, part of a national celebration, is co-sponsored by the Washington State Archives, a division of the Office of Secretary of State. To learn more about the State Archives, go to its Web site at http://www.sos.wa.gov/archives/ . For more information about the state’s fifth annual Archives Month this October, visit http://www.sos.wa.gov/archives/month/ .