Resources at OHS
One of the research library’s famous genealogical sources, this popular resource helps locate information on Oregon citizens found among the library’s collection of books, newspapers, scrapbooks, and more.
Included in the 35,000 titles are many compiled family histories and biographical volumes of Oregon citizens.
In addition to Provisional and Territorial Government Census records for the years 1842 – 1859, the research library has the United States Federal Census for the years 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930; Soundex indexes for 1880, 1900, 1910, and 1920; and Special Schedules of the 1890 Federal Census enumerating Union veterans of the Civil War and widows of Union veterans on microfilm.
The research library’s collection of city directories for Oregon cities (Portland being the most complete) is a great source for genealogists. Listing an individual’s address, occupation, and spouse, the directories often fill-in-the blanks for biography research and provide an avenue for house or building history.
This unique collection and index contains a variety of genealogical works including pioneer reminiscences, family trees, cemetery, court, probate, and vital records published and transcribed by the Oregon chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Donation Land Claim Index
Through Oregon’s Donation Land Act (1850-1855), the United States government drew hundreds of excited pioneers to the Oregon territory by selling large amounts of acreage for a cheap price. The research library contains an index to the approximately 7,000 land claims that includes information such as name, spouse, marriage, year, number of acres, land location, etc.
Indian War Pension Papers
Contained on microfilm, these papers were filed by veterans or by heirs of those who fought in the territorial Indian Wars (1847-1879). It is indexed by the Biography Card File.
The research library houses more than 12,000 linear feet of original documents, dating from the late eighteenth century to the present. Included are personal papers of individuals and families, diaries, and records of a wide range of business, professional, cultural, fraternal, and other organizations.
The map collection contains over 25,000 maps that focus on Western exploration, Oregon Territory, state, cities and counties, and special subjects such as mining, forestry, railroads, coasts and rivers, soils, farmlands, land claims, Native Americans, and explorations. The map collection also includes Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps on microfilm, which present detailed information on the city in approximately 10-year intervals from 1879 to 1965.
The research library has a large collection of newspapers on microfilm covering all of Oregon.
In addition to microfilmed newspapers, the collection also includes indexes to Portland newspapers, as well as the Oregon Spectator (1846-1854) and the Oregon Statesman (1850-1866).
Oregon Pioneer Association Transactions (OPAT)
Published yearly from 1873 – 1928, and indexed from 1876 to 1925, the Transactions are an invaluable source for biographical and genealogical information.
Oregon Trail & Wagon Train Materials
The research library maintains an extensive collection of over 2.5 million photographs and negatives. Included in the collection are portraits and family photographs of Oregon citizens.
Pioneer Card File
This unique collection details early pioneers’ biographical information including birth, marriage, death, ancestry, residence, when and how arrived in Oregon, occupation, politics, religious preference, and remarks.
Provisional and Territorial Papers Index
Housed in Drawers 109 – 147 of the research library’s card catalog, this surname and topical index covers an 80-reel microfilmed edition of the Papers of the Oregon Provisional and Territorial Governments, spanning the years 1843 to 1859. A guide to the contents of each reel is available in the Research Library.
In addition to all genealogical resources, the research library has many books and manuals on genealogy how-to’s and help.
The research library’s serials collection includes print publications of local and county historical and genealogical societies in Oregon.
This large collection contains folders of newspaper clippings, magazine articles, flyers, brochures, and pamphlets related to many topics, including certain persons or families. The library’s genealogy files will often include biographical sketches, obituaries, or family trees.
While the research library does not house certificates, it does have both published and microfilmed indexes to various vital records. To find a published index of vital records in various counties, search our online catalog.