Maritime Research Center 

  The Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society has available for scholarly and personal research some 800 cubic feet of archival materials and over 60,000 ship and other maritime related photographs and negatives. Researchers will find a detailed, box-by-box listing and description of these materials in the Society’s Maritime Research Center located at the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) Resource Center in the Seattle neighborhood of Georgetown.  

(updated August 24, 2015)

The Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society’s Maritime Research Center and Administrative Office moved in 2012 with the MOHAI Resource Center to 5933 6th Avenue South in the Georgetown neighborhood of Seattle.

Appointments are required as this is not a building you can walk in and get help. Appointments will be made upon receipt of a research request. Researchers are asked to complete a request form and email it to us with your name and phone number. Response time is usually 7-14 days with our volunteers working as fast as they can on requests.

Appointments are required for visiting the office or conducting research in our Maritime Research Center. These 6 items define our Research Services.

  1. Email:

  2. Download the Research Inquiry Form and mail it in to PO Box     81142 Seattle, WA 98108 or email to the above address.

  3. Submit your SHIPS PLAN RESEARCH INQUIRIES with this form.

  4. Call us at 206-812-5464 to schedule an appointment . Appointments must be made to conduct research. The archives are normally open every Thursday between 10 a.m. and Noon, 1 p.m and 4 p.m. except for holidays. Should circumstances warrant, staff will try to accommodate researchers’ requests for access at other times Monday-Friday.

The Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society, along with other members of the Pacific Northwest Maritime Heritage Council and the maritime news website Three Sheets Northwest, have jointly launched the Northwest Maritime Heritage site at this location. The online resource allows users to quickly find all of the region's historic ships, lighthouses, maritime museums, archives and events to help them explore the region’s nautical past.  

The Collection - The core holdings relate to the development of maritime life and commerce in Puget Sound between 1850 and 1970, an era that shaped the lives, cities and industries of the Pacific Northwest. Other significant research materials document the Seattle-Alaska shipping trade during and after the Gold Rush of 1897; steamboat operations on Alaskan rivers; the Alaskan fishing industry whose vessels were largely Puget Sound-built, owned and operated; twentieth century naval history in and beyond Puget Sound, and information on other significant port cities in Alaska, Oregon and California. Documents include thousands of press clippings in re maritime events and personalities; legal, financial and operating records of various commercial tug, ferry, and freight companies operating on Puget Sound and the Alaska and Far East trades; detailed records (including photographs and physical descriptions) of ships’ movements in and out of regional ports (Seattle, Port Townsend, Everett) during the first half of the twentieth century; the growth of major Puget Sound shipbuilding firms such as Moran Brothers, Todd Shipyards, and a large collection of ships’ plans created by Puget Sound marine architects.

The late Lloyd Stadum gave the Society his unique accumulation of advertising and operational materials obtained from over one hundred international ferryboat companies plying local sea lanes from the Baltic and English Channel to South and East Asian waters, the Pacific and North America during the early and middle decades of the twentieth century. Housed in fifty eight boxes, they include pamphlets, broadsides and schedules together with a multitude of ship’s deck and hull plans. The Society has also acquired for research use the extensive collection of longtime Seattle waterfront photographer Joe Williamson which forms the basis of our image collection. It includes thousands of images of sailing, steam and motor vessels of all sorts, both government and privately owned that entered/departed or operated on Puget Sound during the early and middle decades of the twentieth century.

In addition, researchers should consult the MOHAI Library staff at regarding important maritime holdings in the McCurdy and Seattle Waterfront collections.


Many of the Society’s historic photographs are available for viewing at King County On Line. These photographs are protected under copywrite laws and may not be used for any purpose without the express written permission of the Society. If you wish a copy of any photograph, please contact the Society for conditions and fees.

Society volunteers will conduct research of its materials upon request and as time is available. Research requests are typically responded to within 14 days. If you have a potential research project, please Contact the Society to see if we can assist you. Your are encouraged to use the this Research Inquiry Form that can be attached to an e-mail?

  Research Library  

The Library contains 4,500 volumes on maritime subjects and over 100 different maritime periodicals. The Library has many volumes on the American, British and German Navies, whaling, northwest explorers, seamen's narratives, log books, various steamship lines, ship building, sea chanteys, knot tying, model making, Lloyds' Directories on ships, Merchant Vessels of the U.S., and many sea adventure stories. ** A text listing of the library resources can be found HERE. **

  Photographic Collection  

The photographic collection housed here is known as the Williamson Collection and it consists of more than 15,000 individual ship photos and 40,000 negatives. All images have been catalogued by ship's name.

The Port Blakely Ship Database is a searchable listing of the arrivals and departures of commercial sailing ships from Port Blakely, Washington, during the 19th century. It contains details about the ships, their captains, their cargoes especially northwest wood and where and when these cargoes were shipped.

We also have various collections, including the Lloyd Stadum Collection which contains photographs and histories of U.S. and foreign ships and shipping companies.

Photo Duplication Fees and License Agreement is located HERE.

   Marine Model Collection  

The Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society has an extensive collection of many fine marine models.


Our widely regarded maritime journal, The Sea Chest, is published quarterly and is included with membership to the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society. An Index of Topics is available at the link above.



The Monthly Newsletter is available to all members and the current issue and archived list are online here.

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