Guide to Aerial Photograph Collection Available

Sun hours: Noon - Midnight

Among the wealth of historic photographs available through Western Libraries’ Heritage Resources is the collection of over 30,000 aerial images archived at the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies. Ranging in date from 1935-2001, these images were generated through numerous aerial surveys around the region, including the northwest counties and National Forest lands of Washington State. Formerly housed at Huxley Map Library, these valuable resources were transferred to the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies (CPNWS) in 2011.

Following extensive work by Eric Mastor to further organize and describe the collection, a detailed guide to available flight indices and accompanying sets of images can be accessed online. CPNWS staff welcome inquiries from the public about access and use of the collection, and recommend that interested researchers contact us for an advance appointment to view materials at the archives.  

Stereoscope used to view aerial flight images.

A stereoscope, as pictured above, provides a means to view overlapping, vertical images and obtain a magnified, 3D effect (useful for assessing the depth of terrain). Stereoscopes are available at CPNWS for use by researchers.

The majority of photographs in the collection result from aerial surveys conducted by US government agencies, including the USDA Forest Service and Washington Department of Natural Resources. These include coverage of Whatcom County, the Mt. Baker National Forest and other National Forest and Parks lands in Washington. The collection also includes some coverage of other Washington counties and U.S. states. For example, a small group of images document survey work conducted for the Alaska-Canada Highway during the 1930s. The collection is a valuable resource for researchers interested in environmental history and change (including forestation, glaciation and waterways), and supports fields of inquiry relating to habit restoration, urban growth studies and property history. All are welcome to contact or visit CPNWS to find out more.

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