Oregon Geographic Names Board

Geographic names have been documented and standardized in the United States since 1890 when President Benjamin Harrison established the United States Board on Geographic Names (USBGN.) Its authority was further extended by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 and established in its present form by an act of Congress in 1947.

With the same concerns as the federal government, Governor George Chamberlain established the Oregon Geographic Board by executive order dated October 1, 1908, and it later became known as the Oregon Geographic Names Board (OGNB.) By 1911, the USBGN recognized the OGNB as the official advisor and state geographic names authority of Oregon. In 1959, Governor Mark Hatfield transferred the administration of the OGNB from state government to the Oregon Historical Society.

Purpose of the Geographic Names Board

The purpose of the OGNB is to supervise the naming of geographic features within the state of Oregon and to make recommendations to the USBGN, which has final approval authority. The Board also serves in an advisory capacity to federal, State, and local government by reviewing administrative name proposals.

The Oregon Historical Society (OHS) is the custodian of the OGNB's correspondence and records and provides the OGNB with limited administrative support. The OGNB operates under its own bylaws, and the Executive Director of the OHS serves as permanent secretary and as one of the board members. The OGNB is comprised of 25 board members, 24 of whom serve without compensation and are appointed to three-year terms by the secretary. The president and vice-president are elected to two-year terms by its membership, and the president appoints committees as needed. The board members represent all of the state's geographic regions and are selected for their knowledge of the state's geography and history. Advisors from State and federal land management and mapping agencies and the private sector serve as consultants to the Board.

2016 OGNB Board Members and Advisors

Proposing a Name

Geographic naming in Oregon is a public process by which anyone can submit a formal proposal for consideration. The OGNB’s Interim Committee reviews and investigates all...

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Domestic Geographic Names Report Form

Proposals for new names, name changes, and name corrections should be made using this form and submitted directly to the OGNB either by email or through the US mail.

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Board Meetings

The Summer 2016 Board Meeting was held on Saturday, June 18, 2016 at Willamette University, Salem, OR. Download the meeting agenda and proposal...

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Contacting the Oregon Geographic Names Board

Current OGNB officers are Phil Cogswell, President; Bruce Fisher, Vice-President; and Kerry Tymchuk, Secretary. Past President, Sharon Nesbit.

To reach the board please contact:

Bruce Fisher (Vice-President, Interim Chair)
Bruce.J.Fisher@gmail.com
Phone: 503-319-1714

Phil Cogswell (Board President)
kpcogs@comcast.net

The postal mailing address is: 

Oregon Geographic Names Board
Oregon Historical Society
1200 S.W. Park Avenue
Portland, OR 97205

For more information on place names in Oregon, see Lewis L. McArthur's Oregon Geographic Names, 7th Edition, published by the Oregon Historical Society Press.