General Information

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General Information

On this page: IntroductionMission Statement | Authority Statement | Collection Scope

Introduction to the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies

Center for Pacific Northwest Studies

In 1971, a dedicated group of faculty at Western Washington University established the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies as an archives and research institute to foster interdisciplinary study of the region. The Center continues to expand upon that earlier vision through its mission to enhance public and scholarly understandings of the region's past and present through the management and expansion of its archival collections, the development of public programming, and the publication in print or electronic form of select material. 

In the development of its archival collections, the Center seeks those materials that represent significant developments in the region that stretches from Alaska to Northern California, from the Pacific to the Rockies, but the Center maintains a special focus on northwest interior Washington, the Olympic Peninsula, British Columbia, and Alaska. Archival collections are open to the general public as well as students, faculty, and visiting scholars. Current holdings include private papers, corporate and organizational records, and political papers. Most of the collections relate to northwest Washington, but a significant portion contains materials relevant to the Pacific Northwest-- (including British Columbia and Alaska) as well as to broader national issues.

The Center also sponsors a range of public and scholarly programs and engages in educational outreach at all levels. The Center publishes Occasional Papers that accompany many of the program initiatives to make the information available on selected regional topics to the widest possible audience. Regular updates of the Center's activities and publications are available on its web page. Suggestions on future programming, publishing, and collection possibilities are always welcome.

In all of its activities, the Center seeks to maintain or surpass accepted professional standards in working with its three key constituencies: Western Washington University including students, faculty, and staff; and local and regional researchers, and scholars from outside the area. To better serve these constituencies, the Center strives for maximum access to its collections through effective cataloging, management, and reference services.

The Center is located in the Goltz-Murray Building on Western Washington University campus along with two other historical records programs: the Northwest Regional Branch of the Washington State Archives and the Western Washington University Archives and Records Management Program. The Northwest Washington State Archives encompasses collections from the offices of state and county governments, city commissions, elected officials, schools, and special districts in the immediate seven county area. The University Archives houses records that document the organization and development of the university and its functions and manages the University's current records. The Center and its staff are active participants in Western’s Graduate Program in Archives and Records Management teaching specific courses and providing access to the Center and its holdings for research, practicum and internship projects. 


Mission Statement

The Center for PacificNorthwest Studies seeks to enhance public and scholarly understandings of the region's past and present through the management and expansion of its archival collections, the development of public programming, and the publication in print or electronic form of select material.


Authority Statement

The Center for Pacific Northwest Studies is a program of Western Washington University Libraries. Program staff comprise the CPNWS Archivist, Assistant Archivist, contractual employees,students, and volunteers.


Collection Scope and Strategy Statement

English Camp, during the San Juan dispute. P.R. Jeffcott Collection #941A, CPNWS. The Center collects those materials that represent significant developments in the region stretching from Alaska to Northern California, from the Pacific to the Rocky Mountains, but with a focus on northwest interior Washington, the Olympic Peninsula, British Columbia, and Alaska. The Center strives to acquire a wide array of material documenting this geographical region including private papers, organizational, business and institutional records, political papers, correspondence, photographs, printed material, scrapbooks, maps, architectural drawings, diaries, audio and video material, electronic records, artwork, and ephemera. Several hundred individual collections make up the archives at the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies and new holdings arrive regularly. The Center's collections are especially strong in regional political and cultural history, and in the area of economic development reflecting late nineteenth and twentieth century extractive industries. While the collections cover Alaska to Oregon, Idaho, western Montana, and British Columbia, it is richest in the northern Puget Sound area, specifically Whatcom, Skagit, and Snohomish counties. Particular emphasis is given to the collection of materials that document economic development, cultural and social history, and historically relevant trends to the study of the Pacific Northwest. The Center only collects material that it can responsibly maintain and preserve within the constraints of allocated resources.