MOHAI has a long and proud tradition of stewarding the artifacts and photos that make up our shared history. In addition to the new museum, MOHAI also offers a research library, photo archive, and access to a wealth of academic research on history in the Northwest.
The Museum of History & Industry has a collection of almost 4 million photographs! Our collection spans the history of photography, from delicately rendered nineteenth-century daguerreotypes to digital images created yesterday. The geographic scope is strongly centered on Seattle and King County, with some coverage of Washington State and Alaska. Many of these pictures are original negatives from the files of newspapers or from commercial photography studios, providing in-depth coverage with multiple images of the same subjects.
Many thousands of photos from the archive are available online for viewing, download, and even purchasing prints. Visit the online Photo Archive Search to learn more.
Our research collection consists of Finding Aids to some of the general library collections, Nearby Historians projects, and Oral History Project transcripts.
Sophie Frye Bass Library
The museum's Sophie Frye Bass Library preserves and provides access to over 3 million historic photographs, as well as manuscripts and archival holdings, maps, books, posters, motion pictures and printed ephemera. Our collections cover the Seattle metropolitan area, and certain subjects of the rest of Washington State and Alaska. Archival holdings include business and organization records, personal papers, photographers' collections, and historical research documents.
MOHAI has many important community partnerships. Two key affiliate organizations are Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society (PSMHS) and the Black Heritage Society of Washington State (BHS). The majority of the collections of both of these organizations are housed at MOHAI. For more information about access to those collections, please contact PSMHS or BHS directly.
Black Heritage Society of Washington State
The Black Heritage Society of Washington State, Inc. (BHS) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the acquisition, preservation and exhibition of materials relating to the history and culture of African-Americans in the State of Washington. To fulfill its mission, the Society solicits, collects, and preserves family and organization memorabilia, prepares and presents exhibits for local special events and recognizes, annually, African-American pioneers in their fields of endeavor.
Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society
The Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society (PSMHS) is a private, not-for-profit organization with a current membership of 750. The Society was founded in 1948 with the ongoing mission of collecting, preserving and interpreting the Pacific Northwest region’s maritime artifacts, monographs, photographs and other documentary evidence. PSMHS’s primary goal has been to educate the public about our region’s maritime past by making the maritime history of Puget Sound accessible to all Seattle and Washington state residents. Since 1953, the Society has housed a significant portion of its artifact collection and its entire library of maritime research materials (books, photographs and manuscript collection) at MOHAI.