Welcome to the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum

Join us in exploring, preserving and promoting Olympia’s history. We are a non-profit membership-based organization presenting the stories from our past to enrich the present and inform the future of Olympia. The Bigelow House Museum, owned and operated by the Society and Museum, is the oldest residence in Olympia, Washington, and one of the earliest still standing in the Pacific Northwest.

Our Mission:  The Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum preserves and shares the history and heritage of Olympia and the Bigelow House in a way that recognizes and values the diversity and rich cultures that gave rise to our community, is inclusive of all persons and perspectives, and informs and engages community members and visitors.

Dr. Loraine McConaghy gave a fascinating presentation at the Olympia Center to a engaged audience based on her book “Free Boy.” Her book and presentation is focused on the fascinating story of enslaved 13 year old Charlie Mitchell who was smuggled from Olympia to freedom in Victoria, BC in 1860 by members of the Puget Sound Underground Railroad. Following Dr. McConaghy’s presentation, the audience was treated to a panel discussion (pictured here) comprised of Olympia Mayor Pro Tem Yen Huynh, Dr. Thelma Jackson, and moderated by author Merritt Long and joined by Dr. McConaghy. The panel discussion along with questions from the audience focused on how Charlie Mitchell’s experience resonates with today’s headlines. The book “Free Boy” is available at libraries, and sold at Browser’s Bookstore in downtown Olympia. The Olympia Historical Society & Bigelow House Museum expresses our thanks to co-host Arts & Heritage Alliance (AHA) and City of Olympia.

Society News

Looking Back

Quiemuth – 5/19/24

Looking Back’s theme for 2024 is Many Streams, celebrating our rich and diverse history. Pictured here is Quiemuth, an older…

Read more

Nettie Chiang – 5/12/24

Looking Back’s theme for 2024 is Many Streams, celebrating our rich and diverse history. Pictured here is Nettie Chiang, Chinese-born…

Read more

Historical Research Tools & Information

We have everything from photos and resident data to interactive maps to help you find the information you are looking for. Click on some of the more commonly used historical tools below or use the navigation at the top of the page to see all of categories.

Find out more about the people and places that have shaped our history

Looking Back feature in the Sunday Olympian

We have created interactive maps that will allow you to find out more information about important historic and heritage locations over time.

Resources to help you do your own research