Published on:

Special Historical Research Collections in Oregon


An upcoming workshop on “Local Treasures – Special Collections and Archives in the Portland Area” (presented by the Portland Area Library Association for Continuing Education), alerts us to these excellent research resources. I’ve reproduced the descriptions right from the program announcement:

1) “The Oregon Historical Society Research Library has gathered one of the most comprehensive collections of local, state, and regional history in the country, with holdings that chronicle the history of the Oregon Country from early exploration to the present day. Collection strengths include: European discovery, exploration, and settlement; Native Americans; local history, family history, and genealogy; the fur trade; agriculture, timber, mining, and fisheries; performing arts; business; architecture and building history; politics and government; religion; and transportation

2) The City of Portland Archives and Records Center is the official repository for records created by or for the City of Portland and its agencies. The collections provide important historical evidence of the development of city government since 1851. Research subjects documented by the collection include public policy, urban planning, parks, land use, public works, economic development, public safety and social issues. The collection includes reports and studies, correspondence and memoranda from city agencies, and elected officials, maps and plans, and nearly 750,000 photographic images of City projects and personnel.

3) The Multnomah County Archives contains records documenting county activities from its formation in 1854 until the present. The collection of records, maps and drawings, audio recordings and microfilm provide historical evidence of the Board of County Commissioners, Community Justice, Community Services, County Human Services, Health, Library Services, defunct agencies, and much more.

4) Central Library’s John Wilson Special Collections houses the rare book and other special collections of Multnomah County Library. Six core collections include those devoted to the book arts and the history of the book; children’s literature; natural history; Pacific Northwest history; literature with particular strengths of Charles Dickens and D. H. Lawrence; and Native American literature.

5) Oregon Jewish Museum: As the only Jewish museum in the Pacific Northwest, the Oregon Jewish Museum houses the largest collection of the documented and visual history of the Jewish people of Oregon in existence. The Special Collections Archives contains personal papers, institutional records, and ephemeral material dating from 1850 to the present, representing 450 individuals, families and organizations and businesses.

6) Oregon State Library: In addition to a strong collection of materials on Oregon history and culture, the Oregon State Library has an extensive collection of Oregon documents (documents published by State and Territorial governments) which include monographs, serials, audio-visual items and maps from 1851 to the present. The State Library also has manuscripts and photographs from the WPA Writers Project and a collection of 5000-plus photographs primarily of Oregon government officials and buildings, and the Salem area

This isn’t a complete list, but it’s a good start. There are also special collections at just about every Oregon college and university library and museum, at county and tribal libraries and museums, at art museums, and beyond. Ask at your public library and at the Oregon Visitors Center.

Contact Information