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Department History File, 1894-1972

Overview of the Collection

Creator
Seattle City Light
Title
Department History File
Dates
1894-1972 (inclusive)
Quantity
1.2 cubic ft., (3 boxes)
Collection Number
1200-11
Summary
The Seattle City Light Department History File, 1894-1972, consists of correspondence, typed histories, reports, newspaper clippings, and pamphlets related to the history of Seattle City Light.
Repository
Seattle Municipal Archives
Seattle Municipal Archives
Office of the City Clerk
City of Seattle
PO Box 94728
98124-4728
Seattle, WA
Telephone: 206-233-7807
Fax: 206-386-9025
archives@seattle.gov
Access Restrictions

Records are open to the public.

Languages
English


Historical NoteReturn to Top

Seattle City Light provides electricity and electrical and conservation services to its public and private customers. It is the largest public utility in the Pacific Northwest. Public responsibility for electrical energy dates to 1890 with creation of the Department of Lighting and Water Works. In 1902, Seattle voters passed a bond issue to develop hydroelectric power on the Cedar River under the administration of the Water Department. Electricity from this development began to serve Seattle in 1905. A City Charter amendment in 1910 created the Lighting Department. Under the leadership of Superintendent James D. Ross, the department developed the Skagit River hydroelectric project, which began supplying power in 1924. Both public and private power were supplied to Seattle until 1951 when the City purchased the private electrical power supply operations, making the Lighting Department the sole supplier. The Boundary Project in northeastern Washington began operations in 1967 and supplied over half of City Light's power generation. By the early 21st century, approximately ten percent of City Light's income came from the sale of surplus energy to customers in the Northwest and Southwest with the remainder of City Light's financial support coming from customer revenue. The current name of the agency was adopted in 1978 when the Department was reorganized.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Correspondence, news clippings, brochures and pamphlets, reports, typescript histories, and photographs relating to departmental history. The major topics include Superintendent John D. Ross, the Cedar Falls power plant, public power, energy in the Pacific Northwest, and the Skagit River power project.

Histories include timelines detailing the department's history, biographies of superintendents, and discussions of hydroelectric power. Speech transcripts are also included, and some material appears to have been prepared for a 1946 "publicity book," which was to include information on specific dams and power plants, statistics and financial data, maps, employee information, and feature stories. Histories and publicity materials stress the low power rates enjoyed by Seattle's citizens. References to the agency as "Your City Light" also appear frequently; one history states, "...it all belongs to the people of Seattle! You, as a Seattle citizen, are one of the owners of City Light. You may well be proud of this progressive, flourishing enterprise built from its own earnings, to bring the many benefits of low cost hydroelectric power to a great city."

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Preferred Citation

[Item and date], Seattle City Light Department History File, Record Series 1200-11. Box [number], Folder [number]. Seattle Municipal Archives.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.

Seattle City Light Department History File, 1894-1972Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
1/1
Annual Report and Report on the Department of Lighting
1938-1942
1/2
Typed History Essays
1945-1960
1/3
City Light Newsletter
1952-1969
1/4
News Releases
1954
1/5
Pacific Northwest Power History, Pamphlets
1894-1959
1/6
Pacific Northwest Power History, Typed Essays
1948-1971
1/7
Pacific Northwest Power History, News Clippings
1952-1964
1/8
J.D. Ross, News Clippings
1930-1939
1/9
J.D. Ross, Typed Biographies
1940
1/10
J.D. Ross, Public Ownership, Newsletter
1934-1040
1/11
Pamphlets
1915-1937
1/12
Political Pamphlets and News Clippings
1930-1941
1/13
Consumer Pamphlets Series
1950
1/14
Pamphlets
1950-1970
1/15
Skagit River Project Reports
1920
1/16
Skagit River Project Typed Reports
1959-1963
1/17
Skagit River Project News Clippings
1959-1972
1/18
Cedar Falls History
1941-1965
1/19
Public Power News Clippings
1952-1966
2/1
Power Bill Political Pamphlets
1929-1935
2/2
Power Bill Typed Essays
1930-1943
2/3
News Clippings
1900-1921
2/4
News Clippings
1930-1937
2/5
News Clippings
1945
2/6
News Clippings
1952-1959
2/7
News Clippings, New York Times, Presenting Washington State
1959
2/8
News Clippings
1963-1969
2/9
News Clippings, Seattle Magazine
1969
2/10
News Clippings
1970-1971
2/11
Reports
1909-1933
2/12
Monthly Statements
1935-1939
2/13
Monthly Statements
1940-1949
2/14
Monthly Statements
1950-1955
2/15
Reading Log
1911-1913
2/16
Correspondence, Memo's, Estimates on Rates
1905-1920
2/17
Seafair Pamphlets
1960-1973
2/18
Greater Seattle Info
1961
2/19
Seafair News Clippings
1961-1965
2/20
Essay, Seattle City Light and Its Publics
undated
3/1
The Nature of Gravitation (by J.D. Ross)
1933
3/2
Correspondence, J.D. Ross
1909-1934
3/3
Newspaper Clippings, City Light
1923-1953
3/4
Monthly Condition of City Light Funds
1937-1944
3/5
J.D. Ross Biographical and Historical Information
undated
3/6
Davis Ranch History
undated
3/7
Skagit: Visiting Groups and Tours
undated
3/8
Skagit History: Pre City Light
undated
3/9
Skagit History
undated
3/10
Skagit History
undated
3/11
Skagit Railroad Historical Information
undated