Rainier Valley Historical Society’s mission is to collect, preserve, exhibit, and interpret the history and heritage of Rainier Valley and its people, and to promote public involvement in and appreciation of its history and culture.
Our geographic boundaries are from Dearborn Street on the north to the city limits on the south, and from the I-5 freeway to Lake Washington.
Rainier Valley Historical Society acknowledges the land our mission statement refers to as Rainier Valley is the original home of the Duwamish and Coast Salish peoples. We recognize the reverberations of colonialism past and present and the painful history of forced removal of these groups. Through this acknowledgment, we hope to honor and respect the Indigenous peoples who were, and still are connected to and are stewards of this land.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Statement:
Rainier Valley Historical Society is dedicated to sharing the stories and histories of the many types of community that make the larger Rainier Valley community a place of diversity and differences.
- Research, document, and preserve the history of Rainier Valley.
- Develop knowledge and understanding of the multi-ethnic history of the area.
- Foster pride in Rainier Valley’s unique heritage.
- Maintain and add to our permanent archive of oral histories, photographs, documents, and artifacts relating to the Rainier Valley.
Membership is open to anyone, resident or not, with an interest in Rainier Valley’s history.
Rainier Valley Historical Society’s roots go back to 1891, when the families who bought the first lots in Columbia City gathered to celebrate the founding of their community. The “Columbia Pioneers” continued to meet every April for 100 years. During that time they gathered an extensive collection of photographs documenting the early years of Columbia City and Rainier Valley.
In 1993 the group reorganized and became Rainier Valley Historical Society. RVHS inherited the mantle of the Columbia Pioneers, along with their collection of historic photographs, documents, and artifacts. RVHS has continued to expand their archives, which now includes more than 30,000 photographs, documents, artifacts, and oral histories.
Through projects such as Dismantling Racism Series, Images of America: Rainier Valley, Rainier Valley Food Stories, Looking Into Courtland Place, Double Exposures, Hidden Stream of Columbia City, Hillman City Time Capsule, and Honored to Serve, we have involved Rainier Valley neighbors in gathering and sharing more stories about our community’s unique history.
You are invited to visit our office in Columbia City, current open office hours are:
Monday: 9:30 am to 4:00 pm
Tuesday: 9:30 am to 4:00 pm
Wednesday: 11:30 am to 7:30 pm
Saturday: 9:00 am to 3:00 pm
And by appointmentRainier Valley Historical Society
3710 S Ferdinand St
Seattle, WA 98118
Check our voice mail for possible changes to this schedule or leave a message to schedule a special appointment.