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Local History in the Special Collections and Archives Research Center

Additional Resources

A number of agencies, organizations, and resources external to the Special Collections and Archives Research Center (SCARC) are available to assist you in your local history research. Just a few of these resources have been listed below, arranged at the city, county, state, and national level. Contact information, where available or applicable, has also been provided for each of the agencies or organizations.

City

Some of the cities in Benton County, including those listed below have their own historical societies. Additional local institutions that may serve as useful resources include:

City libraries can also be useful resources for genealogical and/or local history research. For example, both the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library (CBCPL) and the Valley Library at OSU have a complete run of the Corvallis Gazette-Times on microfilm. The Valley Library and CBCPL also have physical copies of Polk City Directories, a useful tool in any local historian's arsenal, as they include additional personal details about the residents listed, often including marital status, occupation, and the names of family members. The CBCPL holds Polk City directories for Benton County and the city of Corvallis. The Valley Library and SCARC hold a variety of Polk City directories for Linn and Benton County, and the cities of Corvallis, Salem, and Portland (check specific catalog listings for years).

County

Many counties across Oregon have their own historical societies, and all counties have both a Clerk's and Surveyor's Office. The Oregon Blue Book County Government page includes an interactive map which links out to contact pages for each county's governmental departments.

  • Benton County Historical Society: The collections of the Benton County Historical Society are comprised of over 120,000 artifacts including photographs, historical documents, textiles, clothing, domestic arts, farm implements, scientific instruments and personal possessions. You can access their online collections database here: Benton County Historical Society Collections Database.
  • Benton County Clerk's Office: A great resource for vital records such as birth, marriage, and death.
  • Benton County Surveyor's Office: Can provide information on property line surveys, property line adjustment surveys, partition and subdivision plats, and oversees the county road list. Surveyor's offices often have access to additional resources as well, such as aerial photographs and Metsker atlases.

State and Regional

By no means an exhaustive list, the statewide or regional organizations, agencies, and databases below will provide a solid jumping off point for your research.

  • State Archives: The State Archives of Oregon collects, maintains, and makes accessible a wide variety of historical materials, including but not limited to: Oregon Military Department records; probate recordshistoric birth, death, marriage and divorce records; provisional and territorial records; and Oregon Legislative Records. The State Archives Reference Unit can be reached by phone at 503-373-0701 (option 1), and by email at Reference.Archives@oregon.gov.
  • State Library: The State Library of Oregon cultivates, preserves, and delivers library and information services to foster lifelong learning and community engagement. Their holdings include state government publications, rare books and periodicals on Oregon history and culture, maps of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest region, photographs, manuscript and archival materials collection, and archival and historic materials on the history of the State Library. The library's catalog can be accessed online here: State Library catalog. The Library's digital collections - which include current and historical publications of Oregon state government; maps from the State Library’s digital collection; publications of Oregon cities, counties, and tribal governments; and Federal publications that focus on Oregon and the Pacific Northwest - can be accessed online using the search box on this page: State Library Digital Collections.
  • Oregon Historical Society: Search their collections catalog from their Research Library's main page; materials digitized from their collections are accessible from their Digital Collections page. Still can't find what you're looking for? Their research unit can be reached directly by phone at 503-306-5240, and by email at libreference@ohs.org.
  • Archives West: Similar in some ways to a library catalog, Archives West is where repositories in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Utah host guides, or finding aids, to their collections. Search results can be sorted by repository, name, subject, and material type (e.g. photographs, scrapbooks, diaries).
  • Oregon Historic Newspapers: This site allows you to search and access historic Oregon newspapers that have been digitized as part of the Oregon Digital Newspaper Program (ODNP), administered by the University of Oregon. This full-text searchable database contains almost 1,400,000 pages from Oregon newspapers dated between 1846 and 2020, and new titles are being added continually.

National

Just a handful of the national archival repositories that exist are listed below - if you can imagine it, there's likely an archives for it!