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A Brief History of the GFO

The Genealogical Forum of Oregon was founded in 1946 by three women members of the Daughters of the American Revolution for the purpose of promoting genealogical research through education and providing tools, assistance, and offering expertise to its members. The name was chosen because it reflected the spirit of a roundtable discussion of family history.  For the next 20 years, the GFO held meetings at the Meier and Frank building, the Portland Public Library, and other public meeting places. For many years it held its growing library collection at a member’s home. By 1955, the GFO was offering genealogical classes and working with others, such as the Oregon State Archives, to identify and catalog genealogical resources in Oregon. In 1968, the GFO moved into its first devoted library space, a room in the Governor building downtown on Southwest Second Avenue.  Since then, the GFO has moved three more times, jumping the river to the Central Eastside in 1999. In 1991, the GFO successfully hosted the National Genealogical Conference in the States, the first national conference of its kind held in the Pacific Northwest.  Oregon Governor Roberts proclaimed Family History Week in honor of the GFO and the conference. The GFO hosted the NGS again in 2001, and at the time was the only organization to host the Conference twice.

In 2011, the GFO moved to its present location in the historic Ford Building at Southeast Eleventh Avenue and Division Street. With 5,000 square feet of space, the Library offers computers for on-line research using a suite of powerful subscription databases; a film scanner for reading, saving, and printing microfilm and microfiche records; and over 42,000 holdings. And, the Library’s resources stretch far beyond America. The GFO’s book collection easily searched through the online catalog at www.gfo.org , includes rare and irreplaceable books and research aids to help find online records. Its unique records collections, including copies of Oregon Donation Land Claims – land grants given to Oregon Territory settlers prior to 1853 – original Multnomah County marriage records from 1855 to November 1924, and Pacific Northwest school yearbooks, make the GFO Oregon’s largest genealogical library.

The GFO continues to offer classes that foster learning, research, and skill-building, and hosts semi-annual seminars and monthly or weekly Special Interest Groups, including one on the new field of DNA testing.  Visitors are always welcome and a one-day pass is $7.00. For a look at current educational offerings, click here. For GFO Library location and hours, click here.

For a more complete history, click here.

 

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