Property Ownership and Land-use History for Island/San Juan/Skagit/Snohomish/Whatcom Forestland — Section 2

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Property Ownership and Land-use History for Island/San Juan/Skagit/Snohomish/Whatcom Forestland — Section 2

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Make an appointment


Now that you have familiarized yourself with exactly what records are available in the archives and identified the legal description of your property, you are ready to make an appointment at the regional archives. Appointments need to be made at least two days in advance to give the archivist time to find your property’s records. The two day waiting time can be used for starting the online portions of your ownership or land-use history (outlined later in this manual).

When making your appointment, be specific about what information you are looking for (timber cruise records, aerial photos, tax assessment rolls, property record cards, etc.) and have your property’s parcel number and legal description ready. These appointments are free and are typically 15 minutes long.

During the appointment, the research specialists will explain how to use the resources available and interpret the requested records. Once your time is up, the researcher may have to move on to another appointment, but should still be available for questions while you complete the rest of your research. The Washington State Archives website has additional research and contact information for each of the regional branches.

If your property is in Island, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, or Whatcom County you can make your research appointment at the Northwest Regional Branch in Bellingham. The Northwest Regional branch will have most of the ownership and land-use records for your property, including the auditor’s general indexes, deeds and mortgages, real property assessments, mining claims, and minimal timber cruise records.

Please note that mining claims are organized by name, date, or claim. This means that you would have to know ahead of time that someone claimed your property for mining and what their name was. The Northwest Regional Branch is only opened for in-person research Wednesdays through Fridays.

Northwest Regional Branch
Western Washington University, MS-9123
Bellingham, WA 98225-9123

Phone: (360) 650-3125


If you are unable to visit the archive branch in person, copies of records can be requested via phone or email. The staff can also be hired to complete the property history for you. Research performed by Archives staff requiring more than 15 minutes will generate a fee. Research is defined by the Washington State Archives as “the collection, assembly or extraction of data or information from records, or the analysis of information to provide a report.”

For exact pricing, consult the Washington State Archives Services and Fees website for the Northwest branch. If you decide this option is best for you, consider first completing the online portion of the ownership and land-use histories. The research you can do at home may decrease the research time needed by the archives staff. If you do not have a computer or do not wish to do any of the research on your own, then an archives staff member will be able to do the online portion as well, for an additional fee based on time spent.



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