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Urban Archives Digital Collections

Since 2004, we have been documenting urban landscapes and conducting original research using a variety of approaches and perspectives. Using photography, students carry out field research by capturing urban texts such as graffiti, public art, advertising, signage, and architectural design. Original photographs are then annotated, archived, and shared with the community for further research and analysis. This is an ongoing project as the Urban Archives expands. In addition to adding different types of texts, we have also begun to add data from cities around the world.

When you search the Urban Archives Collections from this site, your results will be displayed in either a popup window or tab hosted by the University of Washington Libraries. To learn more about the advanced searching and navigating results page, please visit the projects help section.

Featured Collections

Joshua Miller Critical Mass Photographs
First-hand photographs and ephemera of Critical Mass in Seattle from 2008 to 2010. The photographs were included in Dr. Miller's Ph.D. dissertation Cyborg love, Critical Mass and possibility : enacting the right to the city (University of Washington, 2010.)

Electric Signs
Vintage and contemporary signs that are lit or use lighting for motion.

Yard Art
Any modification of personal property. This can include decorations, works of art or political signage.

Ghost Signs and Painted Walls
Fading old advertising images and murals on building exteriors.

Seattle Views
Contains views of places and special events in the Seattle area. This sub-collection pertains to all images relating specifically to Seattle.

Hand Styles
Artist generated tag or label indicating a works author or creator.

Painted windows and window dressings.

Affiliation with the University of Washington Libraries Digital Collection:

We are working with the University of Washington Libraries in an ongoing collaboration to develop a digital archives of urban texts from around the world. The Urban Archives search tool is housed and maintained by the UW Library’s Digital Collections department. To search the Urban Archives and other collections within digital collections, please visit their search tool on the UW library website.