Vintage Washington State drivers licenses

Drivers licenses are not directly tied to license plates, but they offer an interesting look at the evolution of licensing practices and forms, and investigating the lives and homes of the names of each driver has become another hobby for me.

Licenses expired in odd-numbered years.  So far I’ve been able to obtain at least one from each year from 1923 to 1939, with later years slowly being filled in.

An informal history of licensing in Washington was recently found in the files of the Washington State Archives, which provided the following background on the issuance of drivers’ licenses:

In 1921 the Driver’s License Division was set up under the Director of Licenses.  The fee was $1.00 for two years.  To obtain a license, the driver was required to furnish the signatures of two persons who certified that the applicant was a competent driver and had no physical infirmities which would impair his ability to drive safely.  An impression of the state seal had to be placed on every license.  This was done by an electric driven sealing device.  The minimum age was continued at 15 years.  Drivers licensed in the first two year period number 301,110.

Based on this, since licenses were first issued in 1921 with a two-year expiration period, the earliest licenses would be dated 1923.  The history also states that for the first period of issue only, any drivers convicted of an offense would have their licenses exchanged for a blue one, and after a second offense, a yellow one was issued.  Apparently some officials were caught with violations and didn’t appreciate their licenses being marked, so the practice was discontinued after the first two-year cycle.  Colored 1923 licenses are now something to be on the lookout for!  All licenses through 1933 are duly approved by the Department of Efficiency.

By 1937, the Department of Efficiency apparently was no longer around, but somehow without it the state had found a more efficient delivery method for drivers licenses, essentially making them a postcard.

Until 1949, all licenses expired on July 31 of odd-numbered years.  A new law was enacted in 1949 for staggered licensing, where licenses expired every two years on the driver’s birthday.

1923

Issued to: Karl Gunther, 201 W 2nd St, Cle Elum

wa_dl1923

 

1925

Issued to: L.A. Stewart, Lebam

wa_dl1925

 

1927

Issued to: Oscar Magnuson, 2901 S 7th, Tacoma

wa_dl1927

 

1929

Issued to: Ethel Lilquist, Rochester

wa_dl1929

 

1931

Issued to: Helen D McAdam, 33rd & Vernon, Everett

wa_dl1931

 

1933

Issued to: George W Feldman, 2477 Westmont Way, Seattle

wa_dl1933

 

1935

Issued to: A M McCoubrey, 5526 16th Ave S, Seattle

wa_dl1935

 

1937

Issued to: Mary West, Box 161, Ilwaco

wa_dl1937

 

1939

Issued to: J L Hufeisen, 930 Broadway, Seattle

wa_dl1939

 

1943

Issued to: Marjorie C Prowse, Box 326 McCleary

wa_dl1943

 

1947

Issued to: Marie Alice Graves, 2203 W 27th, Vancouver (F.V. = Fruit Valley neighborhood?)

wa_dl1946

 

1957

Issued to: Hazel P Kruse, R1 Box 18 B Power Line Road, Woodinville

wa_dl1957

1960

Issued to: Eli Galarmeau, 1311 State St., Bellingham

wa_dl1960

1963

Issued to: Ralph Newton Hamer, 4 MI S, Carlton, WA

wa_dl1963

 

1968

Issued to: Elliott H. Porter, 13407 Greenwood Ave N, Seattle

wa_dl1968