Photo Archives

Leona Campbell, 1928 Photo by J. W. Sandison

Leona Campbell, 1928
Photo by J. W. Sandison

Thousands of researchers access the Whatcom Museum’s Photo Archives each year, with searches that range from tracing family history to compiling material for books or films to a host of academic pursuits. We hope you will use this resource for your research project.

Location and Hours:

Currently the Photo Archives research room is open for in-person visits by appointment only (no walk-ins). In response to local health department guidance, starting Aug. 4 masks will be required for all visitors and staff, regardless of vaccination status.

Syre Education Center
201 Prospect Street
Bellingham, WA 98225
360.778.8952
Email Photo Archives

The Photo Archives collections are accessible during public hours through the Whatcom Museum’s in-house database (Past Perfect 5.0). Using the database, researchers may search on their own across all photographic and archival collections using a name(s) and/or word(s). Print-outs from the database are 25 cents per page. The Research Room also contains local history books, city directories, maps, reference materials, and other resources that patrons may search. Email orders and inquiries are also accepted.

Research & Image Use:

The Photo Archives staff will provide assistance in research and answer questions regarding photos, history, and purchasing/use of photographic copies. Staff cannot undertake open-ended research projects for patrons, does not provide genealogical research services, nor does the staff offer proofreading, fact-checking, and/or editing services for patrons’ manuscripts and other work.

The Whatcom Museum sells copies of images from its Photo Archives for personal use, research, exhibition, home, and business display and for publication to non-profit and commercial entities. Images are NOT to be used for publication or posted on the Internet without prior approval and licensing from the Whatcom Museum. The Museum has a fee schedule with printing dimensions and rates.

Downloading of images from the Whatcom Museum web page in no way transfers either copyright or property right, nor does it constitute permission to publish in excess of “fair use” or to display materials. Use of images from the Whatcom Museum in publications, websites, or other historical work does not represent validation of that work nor vouch for its historical accuracy or completeness. The staff does not provide testimonials or promote non-museum works. The Photo Archives does not grant exclusive use of particular images, cannot appraise the monetary value of photographs, does not address legal questions, such as tax and land use issues, property boundaries, or biological/married relationships.

Commercial use of Museum images, e.g. packaging, advertising, decor, does not represent an endorsement of that commercial entity’s products/services by the Whatcom Museum. The Whatcom Museum reserves the right for the Collections Committee or Museum Director to review appropriate use of images.


Virtual Exhibits

The Whatcom Museum features a selection of virtual gallery exhibits with images from our collection including works by early photographers of the region, plans by a prominent shipbuilder, curated topical exhibits, and images of key ethnographic, historic, and art objects.