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The Washington Superintendency of Indian Affairs was established in 1853. After the Superintendency was abolished in 1874, after which the agents reported directly to the Office of Indian Affairs in Washington, DC. Some correspondence relating directly to the agencies was filed under "Washington" until a change in the filing system occurred in 1881, however.

Records for Superintendencies exist in the National Archives and copies of many of them are also available in other research facilities.


Makah,Skokomish, Yakama, Colville, Puyallup, Tulalip, Nisqualli, Nez Perce, Flathead, Spokane, Pend D'Oreille, Cayuse, Paloos, Walla walla, Quinaielt, Blackfeet, Chehalis, Chilkat, Chinook, Clackamas, Clallam, Lake, Klikitat, Coeur d'Alene, Cowlitz, Dawamish, Lummi, Muckleshoot, Quileute, Quaitso (Queet), Squaxon, and Swinomish


Agencies and subagencies were created as administrative offices of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and its predecessors. Their purpose was (and is) to manage Indian affairs with the tribes, to enforce policies, and to assist in maintaining the peace. The names and location of these agencies may have changed, but their purpose remained basically the same. Many of the records of genealogical value (for the tribe and tribal members) were created by and maintained by the agencies.

Superintendents and Appointment Dates

James W. Nesmith 1857, Edward R Geary 1859, William W. Miller 1861, Bion F. Kendall 1861 (papers 1812-1870), Calvin H. Hale 1862, William H. Waterman 1864, Thomas L. McKenny, Bvt. Col. Samuel Ross 1869, Thomas L. McKenny 1870, Robert H. Milroy 1872[1]


Records of the Washington Superintendent of Indian Affairs, 1853-1874, are at the National Archives and have been microfilmed as their Microcopy Number M5. Copies are also available at the Chicago, San Francisco, and Seattle Regional Archives. This set of microfilm of the records of the Washington Superintendency is also available at the Family History Library and its family history centers.

Letters received by the Office of Indian Affairs from the Washington Superintendency, 1853-1880, have been microfilmed by the National Archives as part of their Microcopy Number M234. Copies are available at the National Archives and at the Family History Library and its family history centers on their microfilm roll numbers 1661637 thru 1661650.


  1. The Office of Indian Affairs, 1824-1880: Historical Sketches. By Edward E. Hill. Clearwater Publishing Co., New York, NY ©1974. FHL Book 970.1 H551o

Hill, Edward E. The Office of Indian Affairs, 1824-1880: Historical Sketches. New York, New York: Clearwater Press, [1974].

Hill, Edward E. (comp.). Guide to Records in the National Archives of the United States Relating to American Indians. Washington [District of Columbia]: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1981.

Historical Sketches for Jurisdictional and Subject Headings Used for the Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, 1824-1880. National Archives Microcopy T1105.

Preliminary Inventory No. 163: Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Washington, DC:


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  • This page was last modified on 4 January 2016, at 17:17.
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