Seattle Genealogical Society

Early History of SGS

On October 18, 1923, eight local researchers founded the Seattle Genealogical Society. They met in the downtown Seattle law offices of Moore and Higgins. According to the 1924 Seattle City Directory (information gathered in 1923) this was in Room 953 of the Dexter Horton Building, 704 Second Avenue, on the northeast corner of Cherry Street. These offices were the likely site of the original Seattle Genealogical Society, now known as SGS to all those who use it.
Three portraits of founders of SGS
The eight founding members were Alexander Craig Dermond, Eleanor M. Freeman, Elizabeth A. Hubbart, Susan M. Keppel, Lida R. McKercher, Harry Denton Moore, Alice V. Robinson, and George E. Tilton. Their purpose was to form an active genealogical society and to begin a library collection available for Pacific Northwest researchers.

The original SGS constitution, statement of purpose and the bylaws were modeled after those of the California Genealogical Society, founded in 1898 in San Francisco. President Harry Moore read aloud a letter from the California society. Its wording, adapted by the Seattle Genealogical Society, declared the new Society’s purpose of being: "To collect, preserve, disseminate information on genealogy and Washington local history; to assist its members in tracing their ancestry; to ascertain the location and condition of various public and private records which are or may become accessible to students of genealogy and American History; to aid in investigation of this nature by combining the efforts and resources of its members; to seek to direct public attention to the value of complete and exact records; and to emphasize the necessity of unremitting care in their collection and preservation."

SGS coat of arms, date unknown, design credit: P. O. WilsonFifty-nine interested researchers met on December 10, 1923 in the Chamber of Commerce auditorium in the downtown Arctic Building, Third Avenue and Cherry Street. Reverend Ambrose Bailey of the First Baptist Church spoke on "Why Trace Your Ancestry?" This was the first general meeting of the newly organized Seattle Genealogical Society and at that meeting 21 more members joined SGS.

We have seen membership dues rise from $1 to the current $40 for an individual membership. The membership has increased from the original 8 members to over 1200 members at our peak. We now have over 500 members. Our research library has increased from a small room to a facility housing over 17,000 books and other research materials. 

Since 1923, there have been many changes in both SGS and the genealogical community. Now, with much renewed interest and commitment, encouraged by new approaches to research and exciting technology, plus an unparalleled availability of worldwide records, the Seattle Genealogical Society is reaching out to better inform the community about 21st century research techniques. We are working hard to make our resources more accessible both at the SGS Library and online. We are excited about all of the possibilities opening up to family history researchers!

"History of Seattle Genealogical Society (1923-1973)" by Carol C Lind

"Sixty Five Years of History 1923-1988" by Sarah Thorson Little   

Record of Officers 1923-1989