Gift Idea: Washington Pioneer Certificate


If your ancestor was one of the 350,000 people who lived in the Washington Territory when it became the nation’s 42nd state on November 11, 1889, you may be eligible for a Washington Pioneer certificate. Or if your ancestors arrived a little later — before December 31, 1900 — you can get a First Citizen certificate. What a great gift for yourself and your family members!


We began the Washington State Centennial Pioneer Certificate Program in 1984 in anticipation of the state’s centennial admission to the union in 1889. The initial certificates were issued to applicants who could prove their ancestors were in Washington Territory on or before November 11, 1889. Those descendants’ names, almost 18,000, were printed in a two-volume set of books entitled “Washington Pioneers” in 1992. A third volume, published in 1993, included Pioneers and First Citizens (those in the state on or before December 31, 1900). The three original volumes are out of print, but an index is available here. WSGS members have access to family lineages in the Members’ Only section of the website.

Pioneer and First Citizen Certificates are still being issued, although they are published only on the WSGS website at this time. If you can prove your ancestor was in Washington prior to November 11, 1889, you may be eligible to purchase a Pioneer Certificate. If your ancestor was in Washington on or before December 31, 1900, you may be eligible for a First Citizen Certificate. More information, including resources to prove residency, is available in the Pioneer and First Citizen Program brochure. An application and instructions are available here.

2 comments on “Gift Idea: Washington Pioneer Certificate

  1. Claudia Johnston says:

    This is great! I missed out the first time and could find no information when I checked a couple years ago. I know for sure we are entitled to First Citizen Certificates (Grandma was born October 1900 on Harstine Island). Not sure about Pioneer status. I am excited to get the forms completed!

  2. The Washington Pioneer Certificate program is on-going, and there is no deadline to apply. The books were published and there will be no more books, but the genealogies are published on the WSGS website.

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