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.