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Washington State History

Sources for learning about historical and present-day Washington State, Pierce County, and Tacoma

Washington State History


Use the tabs to the left to navigate through the guide to locate current and historical local information, including from books, websites, statistics, libraries and historical societies, and articles from encyclopedias, magazines, and newspapers.

This is a photo of Mt. Rainier over the water

Image Source: "Mount Rainier, Olympia, WA, USA" by Sheri Hooley is in the Public Domain, CC0

Finding Background Information

Encyclopedia Articles

Encyclopedias are a great place to get the general overview of a topic or issue. They are often shorter articles that provide definitions, a little bit of history, and facts on a topic. Gale eBooks is a database that houses a collection of electronic encyclopedia articles on many different topics, that you can access through the Library's portal pages.  There are a few articles on Washington's general history and some famous events (like the eruption of Mount Saint Helens) or places, such as Puget Sound. Try searching keywords like Washington State, Japanese Internment, or similar topics.

Searching HistoryLink

HistoryLink is a great local resource. Here is what they say about themselves: " is the continually evolving online encyclopedia of Washington state history. We provide a free, authoritative, and easily accessible reference for the benefit of all. With a few noted exceptions, all articles on this site are original works prepared exclusively for by staff historians, contract writers, volunteers, and consulting experts." Further, they identify three types of articles they provide: 

 The encyclopedia has three types of articles: 

  • Features are overview articles – biographical stories and snapshots of communities and historical events, all fully cited.
  • Timeline Entries are events keyed to specific dates, offering readers the opportunity to scroll chronologically through Washington state history. All are fully cited.
  • People’s Histories are reminiscences, documents, older historical accounts, and personal interpretations. Most are not cited.

Background Information From Books 

Encyclopedias, handbooks and atlases are great places to get background information on a topic. Here are print titles in the reference collection that include information on Washington State (click the title of each book listed below to view its record and availability at the TCC Library). Also, note the related guides linked below - these guides also feature a wide range of books and eBooks on PNW and Washington State history topics.

Note: This guide was reviewed in May 2024. See errors? Have feedback or suggestions? Use the "Get Help" tab to contact us to let us know!

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Except where otherwise noted, the content in these guides by Tacoma Community College Library is licensed under CC BY SA 4.0.
This openly licensed content allows others to cite, share, or modify this content, with credit to TCC Library. When reusing or adapting this content, include this statement in the new document: This content was originally created by Tacoma Community College Library and shared with a CC BY SA 4.0 license.

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