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Oregon Genealogical Collections

Oregon Genealogical Collections

By Connie Lenzen, CG - Updated 11 February 2012


Genealogical Forum of Oregon Library
2505 SE 11th Avenue, Suite B-18, Portland, OR 97202-1061
Visitor Fee: $7.00. Members admitted 
with annual membership of $43.00.
Phone: 503-963-1932.
Hours and Location.
Photocopying facilities: books and 
Internet computers with World Library edition.
Free WiFi.

Established in 1946, the GFO library has over 43,000 volumes that include a large genealogical collection for U.S. states and several foreign countries. For many years members have generously donated books to the library, and books are purchased to supplement the donations. This results in an eclectic collection with something for everyone. The collection of family history books is larger than any other collection in the region.

The GFO volunteers have indexed numerous Oregon resources and placed the indexes on the website. Click here for the list of indexed items. See the search box on the main GFO page.

Significant Oregon Genealogical Sources

  • Census: all federal Oregon censuses and indexes. 
  • City directories: Portland directories and some directories for other Oregon cities. Old Oregon phonebooks supplement the directory collection.
  • Land records: Oregon Donation Land Claim case files on microfilm, Bureau of Land Management plat and tract on microfilm. The Forum abstracted and indexed the Oregon Donation Land Claims.
  • Large book collection of Oregon county histories, cemetery books, vital record books.
  • Multnomah County, Oregon Foreign Born Voter Registrations, on microfilm.
  • Multnomah County, Oregon marriage certificates (the originals), 1855 to 1924. The Forum prepared an index to the 1855 to 1906 records. An online index to a number of these volumes is on the society’s website, and the Research Committee will make copies of entries for a modest fee.
  • Multnomah County, Oregon marriage indexes (the original books), 1855 to 1975:
  • Newspaper indexes: “Library Association of Portland Newspaper Index,” 1920s to 1984, on microfilm.
  • Oregon Early Settlers card file: pre-1900 settlers in Oregon. Contains vital information.
  • Oregon Marriage Index, 1925 to 1945, on CD.
  • Oregon vital records indexes on film and fiche: deaths from 1903 to 1998, marriages from 1971 to 1998, divorces from 1946 to 1998.
  • Spencer Leonard Civil War Card File of Civil War Veterans Who Lived in Oregon. Contains vital information. An online index to this collection is on the society’s website, and the Research Committee will make copies of entries for a modest fee.
  • World War I Oregon Draft Registration microfilm. The Forum created an index to the films.

Unusual resources:

  • Almanach de Gotha
  • Domesday books and indexes.
  • French Canadian collection: vital record books and periodicals, as well as a copy of Jette’s Dictionnaire généalogique des familles du Québec.
  • Passenger arrival indexes. The book collection is one of the finest in the area.
  • Periodicals: largest collection of genealogical periodicals in the region.


Multnomah County Library
801 SW 10th Ave., Portland, OR 97205-2597.
Phone: 503-248-5234.
Hours: Mon, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.; Tue. & Wed., 10 a.m.–8 p.m.; Thur.–Sat., 10 a.m.–6 p.m.; Sun., noon–5 p.m. 
Library catalog on-line:
Photocopying facilities: books and 
Internet computers with Ancestry Library edition.
Free WiFi for library card holders (one-hour per day).

The Library has a large genealogical collection on the third floor. All books are listed in the on-line catalog. Newspapers and censuses on microfilm are located on the second floor.  The library’s online databases include HeritageQuest™ and the Sanborn Fire Insurance maps.

Significant Oregon Genealogical Sources

  • City directories: Portland, 1863 to 1990s and other miscellaneous cities.
  • Newspaper Index card file: “The Library Association of Portland Newspaper Index” includes citations for several Portland newspapers and miscellaneous Oregon biographies from the 1920s to 1987.
  • Newspaper: The Oregonian and the Oregon Journal on microfilm. The Oregonian from the late 1980s to the present is online on the computer database.
  • Oregon Biography Clippings (Eight notebooks, indexed).
  • Oregon vital records indexes: deaths from 1903 to the present, marriages from 1971 to the present, divorces from 1971 to the present.

Other Genealogical Sources

  • American Genealogical Biographical Index. Many books that are cited in this index are in the library’s collection.
  • Hinshaw’s Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy.
  • Our French, Canadian Ancestors.
  • Passenger indexes: the standard Filby and Germans to American and Italians to America, etc. Also Rassmussen’s San Francisco Ship Passenger Lists and Overland Train Passenger Lists.
  • Pennsylvania Archives.
  • Roster of Confederate Soldiers, 1861-1865.
  • Roster of Union Soldiers, 1861-1865.
  • Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps on microfilm, various Oregon cities.
  • War of the Rebellion.


Oregon Historical Society Library
1200 SW Park Ave., Portland, OR 97205-2483. Library on the third floor. 
Visitor fee: Oregon Historical Society Members and Multnomah County residents admitted free. Other adults, $11.00.
Phone: 503-306-5240.
Research library hours: 1 p.m. – 5 p.m., Tues: 10 a.m. –5 p.m., Wed. – Sat.
Library catalog on-line:
Photocopying: books and documents photocopied by staff.
No Internet computers or WiFi.

Significant Oregon Genealogical Sources

  • Biography Card File. Created in the 1930s by the Work Progress Administration (WPA), this finding aid indexes pioneers and provides brief biographical information. Among the materials covered are the Indian Wars Pension Papers, a scrapbook collection of newspaper clippings, and vital statistics cards for many events prior to 1900 that were mentioned in Oregon newspapers.
  • DAR Collection. The Oregon Society, Daughters of the American Revolution, collected genealogical materials include records of pioneers, cemeteries, and churches as well as Bibles, genealogies, probate extracts, mortuary lists, and vital statistics.
  • Map Collection. Over fifteen thousand maps in the library focus on Western exploration; many treat Oregon exclusively. Other useful map series include the Metsker Atlases that show land ownership since 1928 and the Sanborn Insurance company maps that depict buildings in various Oregon cities since 1884.
  • Microfilm Collection. Over ten thousand rolls of this collection constitute the second-largest newspaper file in the state. Census holdings include all available federal population schedules for the state and all provisional and territorial censuses. A card index to pre-statehood census enumerations is interfiled in the Provisional and Territorial Records index. Various churches also have submitted records and histories for filming.
  • Pioneer Card File. Information on these cards comes from transcribed questionnaires issued to pioneer descendants at annual Oregon Pioneer Association meetings; notes taken by Judge Charles H. Carey, one-time president of the Society and author of several histories of the state; and materials donated to the Society by the Lane County Pioneer Association.
  • Provisional and Territorial Papers Index. 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.


Oregon State Library
State Library Building, 250 Winter St. NE, Salem, OR 97310-0640.
Phone: 503-378-4243.
Library catalog on-line: .
Photocopying facilities: books and 
Hours: M-F, 10-5.

A large collection of U.S. genealogical materials is located on the second floor. Members of the Willamette Valley Genealogical Society staff the genealogical area. 

Significant Oregon Genealogical Sources

  • Oregon Index. Three-quarter million cards cover primarily newspapers and periodicals—arranged in a Biography Index (180 drawers), a Subject Index (over 400 drawers), and a WPA Index (12 drawers). Name and subject entries cover Portland and Salem newspapers held by the library. Most of the index entries are for the 1900s.


Oregon State Archives
800 Summer St. NE, Salem, OR 97310.
Phone: 503-373-0701.
One Internet computer.
Photocopying facilities: books and documents.
Hours: M-F, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Closed from noon to 1:00 for lunch.

The Oregon State Archives is custodian of the permanently valuable records of Oregon government. They also provide online access to the Oregon Blue Book and the state’s administrative rules. The twenty-five thousand cubic feet of records that it holds includes provisional- and territorial- government records; military rosters and files; naturalization, probate, and trial-court proceedings; vital registrations; prison files; institutional records; and tax rolls. A number of the genealogically significant holdings have been microfilmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah and can be found in the Family History Library catalog. An online Oregon Historical Records Index provides index access to selected records that can be ordered online from the Archive.

Significant Oregon Genealogical Sources

  • Biographical Card File. Among the more useful record groups indexed in this finding aid are provisional and territorial censuses, some marriage indexes, state supreme-court cases, donation land claims, and miscellaneous provisional records.
  • Censuses. This collection includes the original provisional, territorial, and state-government enumerations of Oregon, some of which have been microfilmed. It also includes filmed copies of all extant population schedules of the Oregon decennial federal censuses, as well as those conducted under the auspices of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
  • Military Records. The wealth of Oregon-related military records date to 1847. Significant among them are indexes and papers of the Indian Wars and World War I. The “Oregon Military Department Records Guide, 1847–1986“ is online.
  • Provisional and Territorial Government Records. Dating prior to 1859, these include a variety of materials of genealogical value—principally military, probate, land, and marriage records. They cover both county-level and provisional- and territorial-level resources, including those of counties cut away to create Washington Territory in 1853. The archives staff has compiled and published a print and online Guide to Oregon Provisional and Territorial Government Records and has microfilmed most of the documents in eighty reels.
  • Vital Records. The archive holds a copy of the microfilmed Oregon Vital Records Indexes, covering marriages for the periods 1906–24, 1946–60 and 1966 to the present; death registrations from 1903 to the present; and divorce registrations for 1956–60 and 1966 to the present.