Color lithographic advertisement for wind-powered machinery from the Spokane Falls City Directory, 1889.

The year 2003 marks the sesquicentennial of the establishment of Washington Territory. The 36-year territorial period was documented in official government reports and publications, business and personal correspondence, printed works (produced by companies, organizations and institutions), drawings, photographs, diaries, and artifacts. For this exhibit to commemorate the anniversary, a broad assortment of items from the WSU Libraries' Manuscripts, Archives and Special Collections (MASC) has been selected. Some are entirely unique, some rare, others are more commonplace and have been selected as representative examples providing evidence of ordinary life during the territorial period.

US Tax Notice: annual taxes due and payable. Hazard Stevens, Tax Collector, 1870.
Each item in the exhibit has been selected to inform the viewer about some aspect of this period in the history of our region, such as the day-to-day reality of settler life, or the impact of settlement on the Indian tribes residing in the territory. Among the items in the exhibit are a unique handwritten Indian census document from 1870, state and federal government documents, the second book published in the Territory, promotional literature, printed works related to agriculture, and many maps from the territorial period.

Many of the items in the exhibit demonstrate the commitment of MASC to two sometimes conflicting goals: access to unique or rare materials for researchers, and preservation of these materials. For example, all of the maps selected for this exhibit have been made available in digital format as part of "Early Washington Maps: A Digital Collection" a collaborative project created by MASC and the University of Washington Libraries. Maps in this database may be used by anyone with an Internet connection, without charge, and visitors to this exhibit are encouraged to visit the MASC web site ( for more information. As maps were prepared for digitizing, each was examined to identify preservation needs, which were addressed during the course of the project. Evidence of this work may be observed in some of the original maps included in this exhibit, as well as in many of the other documents on display.

One useful resource for the visitor wishing to learn more about Territorial material in the collections of the WSU Libraries is Griffin, the online catalog for the WSU Libraries. For example, to investigate Territorial imprints, use the "Subject" option to search for "Washington Territory Imprints." Finding aids for manuscript collections are also included in Griffin, and may be found on the MASC web site. Contact MASC for assistance in using these resources, or for additional information.

View an Online Pathfinder for the Washington Territory

Selected Images from the exhibit

Maps from the Exhibit

Oregon Territory, New York: Illman & Pilbrow, 1833. Territory of Oregon west of the Rocky Mountains exhibiting the various trading depots or forts occupied by the British Hudson Bay Company, connected with the western and northwestern fur trade, U.S. Army Corps of Topographical Engineers, 1838.
Washington and Oregon, J.H. Colton and Co., 1853. Johnson's Washington and Oregon, New York: Johnson and Ward, 1863.
Map of that part of Washington Territory lying west of the Cascade Mountains, to accompany report of Surveyor General, 1857. Map of a part of Washington Territory lying east of the Cascade Mountains, to accompany report of Surveyor General, 1857.