Archives Spotlight: Unique finds in the Department of Ecology collection

Archives Spotlight: Unique finds in the Department of Ecology collection

Washington State Archives’ records from the Department of Ecology make up a massive, sometimes intimidating collection documenting the agency’s efforts to protect and preserve Washington’s natural air, water and land resources. The collection contains nearly 8,000 cubic feet of records mostly dating from the 1970s to present.

The subjects covered in the Ecology archives include toxic site cleanups, water quality and resources, shorelines management, air pollution, nuclear waste, and more. Over the past year, we have been working on a project to better organize these records. The following images depict some of the interesting items we have stumbled upon during this endeavor.

The Department of Ecology’s Air Quality Program received this letter in 1970 with an attachment to illustrate a very specific air-quality issue experienced by a neighbor of a problematic lumber mill.

Later in the 1970s, this infrared aerial photo shows what a section of the Washington coastline looked like in 1977. The photo comes from Ecology’s Shorelands and Environmental Assistance Program.


This unique musical composition dates from 1973 and turned up in Ecology’s Administrative Subject Files. Sadly, we don’t have any recorded performances to share.

Finally, this groovy recycling guide offers a vintage-1975 look at how the Department’s Waste 2 Resources Programs spread its message to Washington residents.

If you are interested in learning more about this collection, e-mail us at

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