Skip to Main Content

Walla Walla and Local History

Guide to resources at Penrose and beyond to help with local history and genealogy needs

Newspapers and Magazines

Union Bulletin

The Archives have extensive microfilm holdings for area newspapers, including the entire run of the Union-Bulletin and some runs of other Walla Walla newspapers dating back to 1860 (coverage is spotty pre-1900). The U-B has been digitized and is behind a private paywall on their website. There is a rough index in the Archives that covers circa 1860-1912.




Along with the Union-Bulletin, there is also microfilm copies for the Pioneer/Wire, papers from Dayton and Waitesburg, early Eastern Washington papers from the Washington Newspapers Project, an index to the Oregonian, and The West shore: an illustrated western magazine. All microfilm can be found and viewed in the Archives when they are open.

Maps and City Directories


  • Sanborn Fire Insurance maps are a great way to find out information about a home, building, or neighborhood at various points in the 20th century. The maps were used to document building materials for insurance purposes, and using them you can see how an area developed and changed. We have multiple copies from the 1890s to the 1950s for Walla Walla on paper and a few for Washington and Oregon on microfilm in general in the Archives.
  • Metsker maps are another company that made property maps, we have one from 1961 for Walla Walla in the archives.
  • USGS (U.S. Geological Survey) topographic maps (sometimes called "topos") show the terrain but also document manmade and natural features, meaning you can see the spread of the Walla Walla region. They can be found on the first floor in the map cases near the stairwell (We have them for all over the world not just Walla Walla).
  • Early Washington Maps digitized maps from libraries all over Washington.
  • Ogle's Standard Atlas of Walla Walla County (1909), contains plat maps. In Archives (SCL1052)

City Directories

  • City, or Polk, directories are similar to phone books. With them you can look up people and see where they lived in Walla Walla or you can look up an address (in the "reverse directory") to see who lived or owned the building. In the Archives we have directories for Walla Walla (city & county) from 1880 to 2000, with the reverse directory starting in 1931. In the Eells collection (next to the Archives on the first floor), there are directories for Portland, the Tri-Cities, and Seattle. For more information, "5 Tips for Getting the Most from City Directories."

Photographs and Digital Collections

Books (Reference and Monographs)

Key print books on Walla Walla

The Eells Northwest Collection is Penrose Library's circulating collection of Northwest books, particularly focused on the Inland Northwest and Walla Walla. The collection can be searched in our online catalog, Sherlock.

Digitized Books and Journals

Hathitrust and FamilySearch both provide access to books in the public domain digitized at libraries. Searching for family names and places in these databases can be great ways to find biographies or references to them. The Washington State Library's Classics in Washington History includes Lyman’s History of Old Walla Walla County.

There are many local history journals we have print runs for, which can be a great way to find scholarly articles that document local history and provide helpful citations to archival and local collections in the area. Many of these are digitized for Whitman access only or accessible on our public access computers:

Print reference books

Reference websites

Vital/Census/Statistics Records

Vital records are official records kept by government institutions such as birth, marriage, and death certificates. They can help in genealogical research in finding people. Many states have digitized their records, including Washington and Oregon.






© 2014 Whitman College Penrose Library |