Washington Territory records, 1853-1890

Overview of the Collection

Washington Territory
Washington Territory records
1853-1890 (inclusive)
2.88 cubic feet (6 boxes plus 5 oversize items)
3 reels of microfilm
Collection Number
Records of government of Washington prior to statehood
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
Special Collections
University of Washington Libraries
Box 352900
Seattle, WA
Telephone: 2065431929
Fax: 2065431931
Access Restrictions

Public Records (public disclosure laws may restrict access to some files).

Funding for encoding this finding aid was partially provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities

Historical NoteReturn to Top

The area of the present day state of Washington was originally part of the Oregon Territory, created by the Federal Government on August 14, 1848. On August 29, 1851, a group of settlers met at Cowlitz Landing (south of present-day Olympia) to petition Congress for a separate “Columbia Territory” covering the area between the Columbia River and 49th parallel. Congress approved the new territory in February 1853, though a change of name, in honor of George Washington, was proposed by Congressman Richard H. Stanton of Kentucky. Olympia became the capital of the new Washington Territory, and Isaac Stevens its first governor. The territory included northern Idaho and western Montana until President Lincoln established the Idaho Territory on March 4, 1863, leaving the boundaries as those of the current state of Washington. The residents of Washington Territory began petitioning for statehood in 1881, and Washington was admitted to the Union on November 11, 1889 as the 42nd state.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Correspondence, legislative journals, financial records, and list of public lands for sale; 1856-1889.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Public Records (use unrestricted when access is granted)

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Arranged in 3 accessions:

  • Accession No. 4284-001, Washington Territory records, 1853-1890
  • Accession No. 4284-002, Washington Territory list of public lands for sale, 1854, 1863
  • Accession No. 4284-003, Council of Washington Territory records, 1857

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top


Accession No. 4284-001: Washington Territory records, 1853-1890Return to Top

2.52 cubic feet (6 boxes)
3 reels microfilm

Scope and Content: Correspondence, Journals of Proceedings, financial records, 1853-1890.

Correspondence, mainly incoming, of Governor and Secretary's office, 1853-1890; Secretary's letterpress copy books and original letterbook, 1853-1874. Other records include journals of Legislative Council and House; acts and bills of Council and House; memorials; miscellaneous financial records of legislature and treasury; list of donation land claimants; petition for statehood; and constitutional convention proceedings.

Restrictions on Access: Public Records (public disclosure laws may restrict access to some files).

Restrictions on Use: Public Records (use unrestricted when access is granted)

Acquisition Info: These papers were bequested to the University of Washington by Manson Franklin Backus, December 1935.

Processing Info: Microfilm filmed under the National Historical Publications Commission Grant. 1 reel negative, 1 reel positive, and loan copy filmed in August 1965 from originals at University of Washington Libraries.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder Accession
1/1 4284-001
Miscellaneous documents
1/2-11 4284-001
Council journal
1/12-23 4284-001
House journal
2/1-9 4284-001
Council journal
1865-1866, 1887-1888
2/10-16, 3/1-2 4284-001
House Journal
1866, 1887
3/3-4 4284-001
3/5 4284-001
3/6 4284-001
3/7 4284-001
Petition to Congress regarding Statehood
3/8 4284-001
Claims data
3 4284-001
Convention proceedings
3 4284-001
Autograph book
1 volume
General correspondence
Box/Folder Accession
4/1 4284-001
4/2-60, 5/1-17 4284-001
Governor and Secretary's Office
5/18-25 4284-001
Treasurer's Office
6 4284-001
Secretary's letterpress books
3 volumes
Box Accession
6 4284-001
Legislative expense book

Accession No. 4284-002: Washington Territory list of public lands for sale, 1854, 1863Return to Top

4 items (oversize)

Scope and Content: Contains lists of public lands for sale; 1854, 1863. Lands most likely belonged to the University of Washington Territory. The documents show that the sales were negotiated by Clarence Bagley, who helped clear lands for the new school.

Restrictions on Access: Public Records (public disclosure laws may restrict access to some files).

Restrictions on Use: Public Records (use unrestricted when access is granted).

Acquisition Info: No source given. No date given

Accession No. 4284-003: Council of Washington Territory records, 1857Return to Top

1 oversize folder

Scope and Content: Single page document from the Council of Washington Territory, 5th Session, written by Mr. Maxon, clerk of Clarke County. It is titled Council J. R. No. 3, meaning the joint resolution regarding the council's issue with the condemnation of Isaac I. Stevens, governor of the Washington Territory, for proclaiming and enforcing Martial Law in Pierce and Thurston counties during the Indian War. The resolution discussed in the document was passed by the legislative assembly on January 16, 1857. It notes that the resolution did not express the opinion of a majority of the citizens of Washington Territory.

Restrictions on Access: No restrictions on access.

Restrictions on Use: Public Records—not subject to copyright. Copying, quotation, publication and other uses are unrestricted if records are open for public release.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Personal Papers/Corporate Records (University of Washington)
  • Public land sales--Washington Territory--Sources

Personal Names

  • Bagley, Clarence, 1843-1932

Corporate Names

  • Washington Territory--Archives

Geographical Names

  • Washington (State)--History--To 1889
  • Washington Territory--Archives
  • Washington Territory--Politics and government--History--Sources