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How to Find Public Records in Oregon

Public Records Search: Oregon State Archives

Researchers visiting arcweb.sos.state.or.us will find the Archives Division for the state of Oregon. The Oregon state archives are open to the public as well as to internet researchers. The state’s earliest holdings dating from its provisional and territorial days can be found at this location as well as many other types of public records and information given archival status.

To search the site, a useful menu provides all the necessary links needed to direct researchers to relevant pages. These headings include: administrative rules, legislative records, records management, genealogy records, archives holdings, state agency records, local government records, web exhibits and projects, archives tour, Oregon Blue Book (published by the archives), about the archives, contact the archives and search the archives. All relevant information to most kinds of public research can be found within these pages.

The Oregon Archives Division was given official status in 1947 to house and provide access to the state’s various archival holdings. The Oregon Archives Division can be found at Oregon State Archives, 800 Summer St. NE Salem, OR 97310. Requests may also be submitted via phone and fax: phone: 503-373-0701, fax: 503-373-0953. They are open on weekdays from 8 AM to 4:45 PM (closing for lunch between 12 and 1).

The “about the archives” section is extremely important for researchers because beside a frequently asked questions page, there is also information about specific services and fees for copying materials. For instance, physically visiting the archives means a charge of 25 cents for copies. If you request the information online or via the mail, there is a 75 cents per page charge for copies. According the site, “researchers may submit simple, informational requests to the State Archives for no charge. These include requests that can be answered by staff without leaving their workstation or by consulting basic reference tools such as finding aids, tracing binders, or reference books.”

Of course, researchers that require records or copies of records and public information can expect some charge. A basic record request for an out of state researcher costs $10. ($5. for in-state researchers). For PDF files or cassettes or any other format, consult the website to see the outline of fees.

Among the types of records researchers may access through the Oregon Archives Division are: Oregon historical records, state agency records, records indexes, census records, adoption records, land records, military records, probate records, court records and vital records. Of course, most of these specific records are not reproduced online; however, researchers may search the online database to locate specific public records in order to format their requests for copies of such materials.

To perform a sample search, click on the “search archives” link from the main page. Researchers may narrow down their search choice to one of the proposed fields or simply search all the fields. Choose the search all option and when directed to the next page, enter the term “marriage” in the data entry box. A wide array of indexes for marriage records from various counties comes up. Click on the Sherman Country marriage records. A summary detailing this source as well as its format is then visible.

It is often necessary to do this type of preliminary research before contacting a staff member with your request. First of all, rough requests demand more time on the part of staff and will inevitably mean increased charges. However, if you can pinpoint a material you need copies from, you are likely to receive a less charge and speedier return on materials. Many state archival sites simply do not have staff to perform extensive research for requesters.

Oregon’s Archives Division demonstrates a navigable site with considerable holdings. Services and charges are clearly labeled and most researchers should easily be able to search the website or make direct requests for materials to the staff via email.

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