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Visit the Archives

Service
The Portland Archives & Records Center is closed at this time. Staff are telecommuting and can respond to some reference questions via email. You can search our online database anytime at www.portlandoregon.gov/efiles. If you have questions, please email parc@portlandoregon.gov.
  1. When you can come in...

    Research Room Hours 

    Monday, Tuesday, & Friday 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM

    No records retrieved after 12:30*

    Wednesday & Thursday 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM

    No records retrieved after 3:30*

    *Since the City’s collection is stored in closed stacks (only accessible by PARC staff); the last retrieval of records will be 30 minutes before the close of Open Hours. This allows the researcher time to view the materials.

  2. The Research Room will be closed...

    New Year's Day
    Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
    Presidents' Day
    Memorial Day
    Independence Day
    Labor Day
    Veterans’ Day
    Thanksgiving Day
    Day After Thanksgiving
    Christmas Day

  3. Open Hours are subject to change

    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.

    If you are doing a group project or you have additional people with you, please call (503-865-4100) or send us an email (parc@portlandoregon.gov) so we can make the necessary accommodations. Large groups may need to make special arrangements, so please call well in advance.

    You can also access our collection online at portland.gov/efiles. This is a catalog of everything we have in the collection. Some of the entries include images, maps and documents that you can view or download from any computer.

  4. What you will find here…

    In a nutshell, records generated by the City of Portland municipality such as elected officials’ papers, department reports, planning maps, Ordinances and Resolutions, budget information, correspondence and photos. If the City contributed in some way, there is a good chance we have some record of it.

    We also have material that helps support research on the City, from City Directories (1863 to 1986) to early souvenir books. These types of materials are 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.

  5. How to find us...

    Enter the main entrance which faces the Urban Center Plaza near the PSU bookstore
    From the main elevators, go to the 5th floor
    Exit elevators and turn right
    You will see the City of Portland Archives and Records Center straight ahead

  6. Other important things to know…

    Before you can have access to the materials in the collection you will need to sign in at the front desk and fill out a Research Registration Form. You will need to bring a government issued picture ID with you that will be held with the PARC staff while you are in the Research Room. 

    Since we only allow pencil, paper and laptops in the Research Room, lockers are available to hold your other belongings. No food or drinks are allowed, so please don’t bring them or finish them up before you come in. 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.

    This is a fragrance free workplace. If you are wearing a scented product that impacts the health of an employee or other researcher you may be asked to leave.

    People who are sensitive to perfumes and chemicals may suffer potentially serious health consequences, triggered by exposure to scented products. In order to protect employees and other researchers, we ask that everyone  refrain from using 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 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. There will be some discussion as researchers work with Archivists, but we try to keep lengthier discussions to a minimum.

  7. Getting started…

    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

    Copies, scans and more…

    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. 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 please check with PARC staff before taking any photographs. Flash photography is not allowed.

    Finishing up…

    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.

    If you have any questions you can email us at parc@portlandoregon.gov or call us at 503.865.4100.

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