Closing the Seattle National Archives

Seattle Branch of the National Archives to Close

Posted on January 25, 2020 by Leland Meitzler

It has been announced that the Seattle branch of the National Archives is being closed. I’ve spent a lot of time researching at the Sandpoint Way facility. Not only did I research my family (using the Federal Census microfilm prior to digitization), but I’ve done a lot of local history research, most relating to the early history of Pierce and King County, Washington. That was all working with original documents. However, the biggest losers in the move may be the many Native American tribes of the area – some 272 of them!

They say that the records can be stored in Kansas City and Southern California. Historians researching Alaska, Washington, Oregon and Idaho will have a long way to go to search the records. They say that .001% of the collection is digitized, so that’s not going to help. This is about the money. I’d bet that no one working on the OMB board that made this decision has Pacific Northwest roots. Suddenly it all comes close to home, making us realize how much power a few unnamed bureaucrats in D.C. have over us lowly taxpayers.

Following is an excerpt from an article published in the January 25, 2020 edition of the Seattle Times:

The decision to pack up and move the National Archives at Seattle to Southern California and Kansas City, Missouri, has rattled those who have spent hours doing research in the mammoth facility.

A panel charged with looking at ways to trim federal properties deemed excess has recommended the 73-year-old building and its 10-acre site be sold. The U.S. Office of Management and the Budget (OMB) agreed and announced its decision late Friday that the facility should be closed.

“I’m deeply disappointed that OMB failed to heed bipartisan Congressional requests & approved selling #Seattle’s archives facility w/out engaging state & local officials & affected communities as required by law,” tweeted Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the Democrat whose 7th Congressional District includes the Sand Point archives property.  “We must get answers about why the law wasn’t followed in this case.”

The move comes despite a letter sent Friday to the OMB  by   all senators from Washington, Alaska, Oregon and Idaho, and eight of the 10 Washington state representatives to Congress. The letter concluded the recommendation to close the archives “was flawed” and should be rejected.

On Saturday, after learning of the approved closure, Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell said, “Trying to move these articles from the region with their historic content just shows an absolute disregard for the importance of them and their significance to our region.”

Read the full article.

Thanks for letting me post this Leland.