The Harbor History Museum Collections number more than 29,000 artifacts, images and archival material including letters, ephemera and scrapbooks. While diverse in material, these collections date from the mid-1800s up to near present-day. All of them have connections to the people, places, and events in Gig Harbor-Peninsula history, including such areas known as Arletta, Artondale, Cromwell, Rosedale, Crescent Valley, Horsehead Bay, Point Fosdick, Wollochet, Shore Acres, Midway, Sea Cliff, Sunrise Beach, and Peacock Hill.
Our collecting policy requires that all artifacts, images, and archival materials in the Harbor History Museum collection directly relate to the people, places, and events in Gig Harbor-Peninsula history.
From fish to hats to horse-drawn carriages and Native baskets, the Harbor History Museum artifact collection tells stories of Peninsula people, places and events. Our largest artifacts include the purse seiner Shenandoah, currently undergoing restoration in our Maritime Gallery, and the Midway Schoolhouse, moved to the site in an effort to save the area’s last one-room schoolhouse. The smallest objects in our collection include buttons and pins, both practical and promotional. Other artifacts tell stories of logging, farming, fishing, and boat building, as well as early businesses such as automotive repair, sign painting, grocery sales, and entertainment.
Our Teaching Collection includes objects that do not have a specific provenance or direct tie to people, places, or events in the Gig Harbor-Peninsula’s past, but are typical of those objects. We use this collection for teaching object investigation and for use in our Schoolhouse programming.
Search our online collection.
Model of Spiro Babich's last fishing boat, the Julia B.
Photographs, drawings, and prints of boating, fishing, farming, street scenes, and family portraits can all be found in the Harbor History Museum’s image collection. We have hundreds of photographs and negatives in the collection, many of which are available for viewing and can be purchased in our online gallery. One of our most noted collections is that of photographer Frank Shaw who actively captured the people, places, and happenings around the harbor during the 1940s and ‘50s, predominantly for the Peninsula Gateway newspaper.
While only a portion of our image collection is currently available in our online gallery, copy books are available for viewing in our Resource Room on Thursday afternoons or by appointment.
While we do accept more recent (post-1990) image collections of “born digital” images, all pre-1990 images are preferred in their original hard copy form in order to be accepted into the collection.
Ranging from scrapbooks and cartoons to club minutes, business records, maps, and posters, our archival collection is small, yet telling of our regional history. Key collections within the archives include cemetery maps, Don Snowden cartoons, navigation charts, and a set of the Wilkes Expedition Journals.
We do maintain copies of much of our archival material in research files available on Thursday afternoons or by appointment.
Our archives include numerous scrapbooks, such as this one of Frank Shaw's.
Artifacts are three-dimensional objects made or used by humans.
Specimens are objects from the natural world such as fossils, rocks, and plant material.
Ephemera refers to those printed items only meant to be used for a short period of time. Tickets, schedules, post cards, menus, catalogs, and posters are great examples of ephemera.
Provenance is the history of ownership related to an object.
Fund A Need
If you have a passion for helping preserve our museum collections, consider funding a need that will make an important difference in our ability to provide safe and effective collections care for years to come:
Rolling Safety Ladder
Museum Flat File Case
Museum Vac Vacuum
Archival Storage Supplies (boxes, mylar, acid free paper, etc.)
Sturdy metal shelving
If your item(s) are in good condition and have a direct tie to the Gig Harbor-Peninsula area’s people, places, or events, we’d love to hear from you.
Contact our Collections Specialist at email@example.com for more information.
Looking for a particular artifact or image? Use our collections catalog page to conduct a keyword search.
Note: Only a small portion of our collection is online at this time, but more objects and images will be added in the months ahead. Feel free to contact our Collections staff if you are looking for something in particular.