Douglass-Truth Branch of Seattle Public Library

2300 E Yesler Way

Douglas-Truth Branch Library and Soul Pole, Seattle, 2020, Photo by Thu Minh Kha
Douglas-Truth Branch Library, Seattle, 2020, HistoryLink photo by David Koch
Installing Soul Pole, Douglass-Truth Branch Library, Seattle, 1973, Courtesy MOHAI (2000.107.190.05.01)
Yesler Branch Library, Seattle, 1967, Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives (193529)
Yesler Branch, Seattle Public Library, 1914, Courtesy Seattle Public Library (spl_shp_15345)
Frederick Douglass, ca. 1879. George K. Warren. (National Archives Gift Collection) Exact Date Shot Unknown NARA FILE #: 200-FL-22 WAR & CONFLICT BOOK #: 113
Sojourner Truth, 1864, Courtesy National Portrait Gallery (NPG.2002.90)

2300 E Yesler Way

Originally named for Henry Yesler, one of Seattle’s earliest non-Native settlers and civic leaders, the Yesler Memorial Branch of the Seattle Public Library opened in 1914. It was designed and built by architects Harlan Thomas and W. Marbury Somervell in the Italian Renaissance style. Today, the Douglass-Truth Library is home to the largest collection of African American literature and history on the West Coast.

Over the course of its life, the library has evolved and changed with the community. Residents in the surrounding neighborhood shifted from being predominantly Jewish through the 1920s to Japanese immigrants and Japanese Americans through the early 1940s. After the United States entered World War II in 1942, more Black Americans began to move into the neighborhood. They bought and rented abandoned properties after Japanese American residents were evacuated to concentration camps, a result of President Franklin Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066. By the late 1960s, the neighborhood was predominantly Black.

As the demand for Black literature began to increase significantly, the city council agreed to designate nearly $50,000 for establishing a permanent collection. To better reflect the collection and demographics of the surrounding neighborhood, the Seattle Public Library Board approved the name change in 1975 to Douglass-Truth.

Cross to the west side of 23rd Avenue and head north about half a block.

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