Access City records such as ordinances, resolutions, and City Council meetings. You can also access historical documents and photographs.
What to know before you get here
Research Room Open Hours:
- Monday, Tuesday, & Friday 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM - No records retrieved after 12:30 PM*
- Wednesday & Thursday 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM - No records retrieved after 3:30 PM*
*The last retrieval of records will be 30 minutes before the close of Open Hours. This will allow the researcher time to view the materials.
Open Hours are subject to change, so you may want to call ahead to confirm.
The Research Room will be closed for the following holidays:
- New Year's Day
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
- Presidents' Day
- Memorial Day
- Independence Day
- Labor Day
- Veterans’ Day
- Thanksgiving Day and the day after Thanksgiving
- Christmas Day
We have open Research Room hours throughout the week, so researchers can stop by without an appointment during the designated hours. However, research requests will be met on a first come, first served basis. If the Research Room is at capacity, we will ask you to check back later when room is available.
Large groups of researchers may need to make special arrangements so please call or email ahead.
What you will find here
Any records generated by the City of Portland such as elected officials’ papers, department reports, planning maps, Ordinances and Resolutions, budget information, correspondence and photos.
We also have material that helps support research on the City, from the Polk Directories (1863 to 1986) to early souvenir books. These types of materials were not necessarily City produced, but they are helpful in digging into the history of Portland and the people who live here. We also have a number of books about Portland and Portland’s history, some even written by people using the City’s collection.
Once you get here
When you arrive, you will need to register with the front desk. You will also need to bring a government issued picture ID that will be held by PARC staff during your visit.
Only pencils, paper, and laptop computers are allowed in the Research Room. Lockers are available to hold your other belongings. No food or drink is allowed.
Other important things you will need to know
To help preserve the records, please wash your hands before you register in the Research Room. There are restrooms just down the hall from our front door. Lotions, perfumes and oils can damage the records.
The Research Room is a fragrance free workplace. Please refrain from using any scented products. Individuals may be asked to return at a later date when they are not wearing scented products. To read the City’s fragrance-free workplace policy click on the following link: BHR-4.03.
We also ask that you silence phones and refrain from using cell phones while in the Research Room as a courtesy to other researchers and staff. You will be asked to step outside to answer or make a call.
Talking is not prohibited but we ask that you be respectful of others doing research.
What to expect with your visit
After you have registered, you will meet one on one with an Archivist to talk about your research question(s). We will ask questions about your ultimate goal and the kinds of materials you are looking for such as pictures, documents and maps.
While doing research you will receive a limited number of records at a time. This helps to prevent damage and maintain original order.
- 1 – 2 boxes
- 5 files
- 1 oversized record, map or photo or at the discretion of the Archivist
When working with the records, there are certain guidelines and rules that will help preserve the materials for future generations.
- Remove the file completely from the box and only work with one file at a time
- Keep the material flat
- Be sure to keep the records in the order you find them
- Do not place or rest anything on the materials, including hands, elbows and forearms
- Do not place your note taking material on the records
- Do not lick your fingers to turn pages. This is something we do unconsciously but can result in long term damage to the records
- Use gloves when required by PARC staff
If you want a copy or a digital scan of the materials you are referencing, ask the PARC staff; scanning and/or copying are performed by the staff. Also note that all copies are reduced to fit on to 8½ x 11 sized paper and are printed double sided, unless otherwise requested. Higher resolution scans are available for $10 each and will be available via our FTP site within several weeks after your visit. View pricing details. We accept cash or checks.
Depending on how busy the Research Room is or the extent of your copying needs, we may not fulfill your request right away. We’ll let you know if there will be a delay.
Due to the fragile nature of many historical records, some requests for paper or scanned copies may be denied. In these situations, alternative methods for obtaining a copy may be available.
You are welcome to bring in your own digital camera, but you must check with PARC staff before taking any photographs. Flash photography is not allowed.
Before you leave, the Archivist will follow up with you on any remaining questions, total the number of copies or scans made during your visit, accept payment in the form of cash, check, or money order and return your ID. We are unable to accept checks drawn on foreign accounts. If your order won’t be ready when you leave, we do require you to pre-pay for the copies and/or scans.
Records and materials are re-filed daily. If you need to come back, keep a list of what you have seen so we can pick up where you left off on your last visit.
The Archives and Records Management Division operates the City of Portland Archives and Records Center, making city administrative and historical records accessible to the public and City employees for research and inspection in accordance with Oregon's public records laws.