Bellingham & Whatcom County History

Discover your community’s past with local history materials, self-guided tours, museums, and archives.

Free to Bellingham Public Library Cardholders

Ancestry Library Edition
Available in the library only; access is not available from home.
Resources for genealogical and historical research in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom. Includes census, vital, church, court, and immigration records.

City IQ Online Map Viewer – City of Bellingham
Search for Bellingham property information and create custom maps which include photos, property boundaries, location of utility services and more.

HeritageQuest
Includes genealogy and local history collections, U.S. Census data, Revolutionary War records, Freedman’s Bank records, city directories, and content from the U.S. Serial Set.

Other Library Resources

Browse local history titles in our library catalog.

Browse yearbooks for Bellingham schools in our library catalog.

Use the microfilm equipment at the Central Library to read, save, or print microfilm archives of local history resources.

Joyce Morse Reference Library

Located at the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building, the Joyce Morse Reference Library contains more than 500 titles about art and artists from the Pacific Northwest, Whatcom County history, and the history and art of Indians of the Pacific Northwest. Access to the collection is by appointment only. For more information, visit the Whatcom Museum website or call the Whatcom Museum at 360-778-8930.

In partnership with the Bellingham Public Library, the entire Joyce Morse Reference Library collection is available for browsing on the library’s online catalog here. To find all titles on particular topics, click the following links:

Recommended Websites

Center for Pacific Northwest Studies
Archival collections that document significant developments in the Pacific Northwest history.

Fairhaven History
History and photos of the Fairhaven district since pioneer days.

Historic Preservation Bellingham
This site, maintained by the City of Bellingham, includes interactive maps, historic photographs of Bellingham, and historic resources surveys.

Historic Tours – Bellingham
Self-guided tours and interactive materials, curated by Historic Preservation Bellingham.

HistoryLink.org
Free online Encyclopedia of Washington State history with photos and essays.

Legacy Washington
State collection of oral histories, photos, articles, and maps.

Lynden Pioneer Museum
Lynden history timeline, exhibit description and photos.

Nooksack Indian Tribe
Tribal website includes history and place names.

Northwest Regional Branch – Washington State Archives
The Northwest Regional Branch provides archival and records management services to local government agencies throughout Clallam, Island, Jefferson, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, and Whatcom counties.

University of Washington Libraries Digital Collections
Archival material including photographs, books, and manuscripts on many topics and periods.

Washington State Digital Archives
The nation’s first archives dedicated specifically to the preservation of electronic records from both State and Local agencies that have permanent legal, fiscal or historical value.

Washington State Archives
Home website for all Washington State archival collections.

Washington State Historical Society
The Society collects, preserves, and presents Washington history thorough museums, research centers, and online collections.

Whatcom County Genealogy – WAGenWeb
Genealogical collections and resources for Whatcom County.

Whatcom County Historical Society
Publications and other resources on the history of Whatcom County.

Whatcom Museum
The Museum creates programs and exhibitions about art, nature, and northwest history, including a large photographic collection.