Background Sources for Oregon

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This entry was originally written by Dwight A. Radford for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
the Oregon Family History Research series.
History of Oregon
Oregon Vital Records
Census Records for Oregon
Background Sources for Oregon
Oregon Maps
Oregon Land Records
Oregon Probate Records
Oregon Court Records
Oregon Tax Records
Oregon Cemetery Records
Oregon Church Records
Oregon Military Records
Oregon Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
Oregon Archives, Libraries, and Societies
Oregon Immigration
Oregon Naturalization
Ethnic Groups of Oregon
Oregon County Resources
Map of Oregon


  • Bailey, Barbara Ruth. Main Street, Northeastern Oregon: The Founding and Development of Small Towns. Portland: Oregon Historical Society, 1982. This volume examines all the towns founded within the northeastern section of Oregon except Baker and LaGrande.
  • Brandt, Patricia. Oregon Biographical Index. Corvallis: Oregon State University, 1976. This is an important publication that indexes forty-seven historical volumes, which are either entirely devoted to biographies or have large self-contained biographical sections.
  • Carey, Charles Henry. History of Oregon. Chicago: Pioneer History Publishing Co., 1922. Three volumes detailing the discovery, settlement, and development of Oregon country.
  • Clarke, S.A. Pioneers of Oregon History. Portland: J.K. Gill, 1905. This two-volume work deals with early exploration of the Oregon region, the Native American population, arrival of Protestant and Catholic missionaries, overland emigration, and the early political history of Oregon.
  • Douthit, Nathan. Uncertain Encounters: Indians and Whites at Peace and War in Southern Oregon, 1820sā€“1860s. Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 2002. This major contribution to the study of native-emigrant relations of the Pacific Northwest focuses on the fifty-year period from the fur trade to the Rogue River War.
  • Gaston, Joseph. The Centennial History of Oregon, 1811ā€“1912; With Notice of Antecedent Explorations. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1912. This two-volume work covers the history of the northwest Pacific coast, the fur-trading industry, founding of Portland, Indian wars, government, religion, agriculture and industry in Oregon, and politics. The second volume is dedicated to biographical sketches of Oregonians.
  • Genealogical Forum of Oregon. Oregon Guide to Genealogical Sources. Revised. 1998. Portland, Ore.: the author, 1998. The guide provides information on records deposited at various repositories throughout the state.
  • Hawthorne, Julian. The Story of Oregon: A History with Portraits and Biographies. Salt Lake City: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1964. Of this two-volume set, the most valuable portion is the autobiographical section in volume two. These autobiographies were contributed by a number of living residents of the state.
  • Hines, Harvey K. An Illustrated History of the State of Oregon. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1893. This history of Oregon contains full-page portraits and biographical material on many of the prominent citizens of the period.
  • Lang, Herbert O. History of the Willamette Valley. Salt Lake City: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1985. The purpose of this volume, which was originally published in 1885, was to arrange and preserve the scattered records and recollections of the Willamette Valley. The newspapers of the valley contributed information.
  • Portrait and Biographical Record of the Willamette Valley, Oregon: Containing Original Sketches of Many Well Known Citizens of the Past and Present. Chicago: Chapman Publishing Co., 1903. Provides excellent sketches of Willamette Valley residents. A great deal of genealogical information is provided in these biographies.
  • Portrait and Biographical Record of Western Oregon: Containing Original Sketches of Many Well-Known Citizens of the Past and Present. Tucson, Ariz.: W.C. Cox, 1974. This volume originally published in 1904 records biographies of the men who contributed to the development and progress of western Oregon. Many pioneers are listed.
  • Preston, Ralph N. Historical Oregon: Overland Stage Routes, Old Military Roads, Indian Battle Grounds, Old Forts, Old Gold Mines. Portland, Ore.: Binford & Mort, 1978. A compilation of historical maps of Oregon from the Lewis and Clark expedition map to modern maps.
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