Genealogy Research in Portland Oregon: Every Family Historian’s Dream

Oregon is a fantastic place to do genealogy research! In fact, Google’s Trends spotting service reported that “Portland, Oregon consistently show up in the top 10 places to do genealogy, family history, and ancestry research.” Family Tree Magazine identified Oregon as one of the best states with online genealogical and historical resources. With so much interest in genealogy by Oregonians, there are many free genealogical resources that can be accessed on-site or online, even by researchers outside of Oregon.

There are many outstanding genealogical and historical societies in Oregon and they charge reasonable membership fees. These societies also have affordable day-use fees for non-members. With so many societies and resources in Oregon it was difficult to make a shortlist of sites. Nevertheless, below is a list of family history sites, both on and offline, to aid the family historian in their search. Record Click has a professional genealogist based in the heart of Oregon, so if you need assistance with your Oregon search gives us a “shout-out.”

Genealogical Forum of Oregon

The Genealogical Forum of Oregon (GFO) has the largest genealogy library between Seattle and San Francisco with over 32,000 volumes as well as special collections. The GFO holdings include a rare book section with many hard to find resources. Indexes have been created for the key Oregon records in their collection and can be searched online or on-site. The GFO maintains a large collection of Oregon records and materials, but also records for all 50 states and many countries. The GFO library offers a wireless internet connection and access to Ancestry Library World Edition. If the researcher is unable to come to Portland, GFO can provide documents through the mail for a fee. Free to non-members are monthly programs and special interest group meetings. The research library is free on the first Monday of the month otherwise there is a day-use fee for non-members. Annual membership fees are available.

Oregon Genealogical Society

The Oregon Genealogical Society (OGS) maintains a large collection of genealogical and historical related materials that can be accessed by members and the general public. Though the focus is on Oregon genealogy, the OGS library in Eugene maintains a national collection of genealogical materials as well. The Society holds classes and seminars with eminent genealogists for a nominal fee per class. Monthly membership meetings are open to the public.

Oregon State Archives

The Oregon State Archives contains a wealth of family history information. There are guides, indexes, maps, images, and research aids. Perhaps the most important resource online at the archives is the searchable surname index that uncovers vitals, naturalization, probate and other record details. If you want a copy of an original record, most records can be obtained for a nominal fee. The archives also hosts a genealogy and family history listserv (OR-ROOTS ).

Oregon Historical Society

The Oregon Historical Society offers many resources and services for family historians. Some of their offerings include an obituary collection, photographs, biography index, publications, census records, sound indexes, city directories, and a DAR index. Monthly workshops, a staff genealogist, and free e-newsletters are some of the many resources that are available to the public. Members pay an annual fee and non-members pay a daily entrance fee. Some categories of non-members have reduced admission cost or free entrance. Additionally, there are family days once a month with special admission rates.

LDS Family History Centers

The LDS has family history centers across Oregon. The LDS maintains a catalogue of all the documents in their collection from which you can order any of them on film or fiche from their headquarters in Salt Lake City. Many LDS sites also have access to premium family history software and websites that generally charge for subscriptions. Contact your local center to see what is available on-site. The LDS is open to the public and does not charge any entrance or membership fees. Typical fees for photocopying and mailing film and fiche are charged.

Oregon Genealogy Web

The Oregon GenWeb Project provides links to genealogy related websites with a focus on Oregon, has specialized message boards, and a listserv related to genealogical research in Oregon. Oregon GenWeb also hosts the Oregon Tombstone Transcription Project. The US GenWeb Project provides free access for everyone and is available for every state in the country, not just Oregon.

Oregon Genealogy

Oregon Genealogy is a mega site of genealogical and historical links for Oregon. In addition, there are some useful nationwide links. The site contains a few databases as well, such as the Oregon Obituary Database. The site is ever expanding, regularly adding new links, data, and sources.

I Dream of Genealogy

I Dream of Genealogy is a free online genealogy database. Of interest is that it contains a list or Oregon cemeteries and the individuals interned in them.

University Libraries

Oregon State University

The Oregon State University Valley Library maintains a large collection of published biographies for Oregon residents, maps, newspapers, magazines, journals and books to assist the researcher.

The university archives includes yearbooks, alumni directors, student and staff lists and photographs.

The library also has a number of publications on the topic of genealogy and on specific family genealogies. Search the library using the online card catalogue and if you don’t live in the Corvallis area request an interlibrary loan from OSU through your local library.

University of Oregon

The University of Oregon Knight Library contains many genealogy resources such as the Oregon mortality census for the years 1850 through 1880. The focus of the collection is on the history of and genealogy of Oregon and the Western United States, but it also includes important documents for the rest of the country as well. Access a selected list of genealogy resources through the following link:

The library can be accessed through:

To speak with a professional genealogist about your Oregon genealogy and family tree research contact us.