TPL’s Northwest Room introduces new database of local history collections

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 19, 2022 

TACOMA, WASH.— Tacoma Public Library’s Northwest Room today launches a new digital discovery database called the Northwest Online Records and Collections Access (Northwest ORCA). Users can access documents, photos, videos, and other artifacts from the Community Archives Center, the Richards Photography Studio collection, newly acquired photos from The News Tribune and records from the City of Tacoma Office of the City Clerk. 

“With the launch of this database, we are working to make our collections as accessible and discoverable as possible,” stated Anna Trammell, Neighborhood Services Manager for Archives and Special Collections.  

Through a new partnership with the City Clerk's Office, this database will also serve as an access point for Tacoma City Council Meeting Minutes from 1884 to present. These records can be accessed with full-text search, viewing, and download options.  

"The City Clerk's Office has so many interesting historic records to share," stated Doris Sorum, City Clerk, "and we're excited that the Library's new platform gives people an easy new way to search and view them online." 

Local historians are enthusiastic about the new database’s ease of use for researchers. 

Writer and historian Michael Sullivan stated, “The singular and often rare papers, manuscripts, genealogies and printed materials in the Northwest Room are Tacoma’s intimate diary and the new ORCA portal is a chance for everyone to turn its pages, see the story of our place and understand the people and events that have influenced our part of the world.”  

Highlights from the Northwest ORCA database: 

  1. The News Tribune (TNT) archives  
  2. City Council Meeting Minutes, courtesy of the City Clerk’s Office 
  3. The Communities subject tag compiles materials related to various broad communities grouped by cultural commonalities: Black Community, Asian and Pacific Islander Community, Indigenous Community, Unhoused Community, LGBTQ2SA+ Community, and others. 
  4. Unique local history items:   

New users curious about how to utilize the Northwest ORCA database can explore these resources: 

For more information, visit tacomalibrary.org/northwestroom. 

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About Tacoma Public Library:  

Tacoma Public Library's mission is to empower its community by bringing people together to discover, connect, create, learn, and thrive. Learn more at tacomalibrary.org 

Media Contact: Mariesa Bus, Public Information Officer | mbus@tacomalibrary.org | 253.280.2882