Visit the Archives

The City Archives is open to everyone and you don't need to be a scholar to do research!
Photograph of the exterior of the Portland Archives and Records Center, located at the Portland State University campus
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Portland's Archives are open for you

In-person research at the Portland Archives & Records Center is currently available on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday by appointment only.  Contact the Archives to make an appointment by calling 503-865-4100 or emailing

We are now scheduling more than one researcher at a time for in-person research appointments. Our research room accommodates social distancing, and we continue to request that researchers wear masks. If you have concerns about sharing the research room with other customers, please let us know, and we will set up a solo appointment for you. 

You can also access our collection online at 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.

If you are a teacher or professor who would like to bring your class to the archives, please submit this form.

The Research Room will be closed on the following holidays:

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

What you will find here

In a nutshell, records generated by the City of Portland such as elected officials’ papers, department reports, planning maps, Ordinances and Resolutions, budget information, correspondence, and photographs. 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 many books about Portland and Portland’s history.

Popular research topics at the Archives include urban planning, parks and recreation, land use, environmental issues, public works and safety, economic development, and social and cultural issues including gentrification and our city's racial history. Our records cover those topics but so much more -- if you have a specific subject you would like to explore, contact us, and we'll get you started!

Other important things to know

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 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. To read the City’s fragrance-free workplace policy click on the following link: BHR-4.03.

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.

Copies, scans, and more

The easiest way to make a copy of our materials is by doing it yourself! Bring your phone and snap photos of any materials you’d like to reference later. We allow and encourage taking pictures of our collection items on your phone!

If you prefer a paper copy or need publication-quality scans, ask Archives staff in the research room, and we will happily assist.

Using City of Portland materials in your work

The City of Portland Archives strives to make our materials as accessible and easy to use as possible. One way you can help us is to cite our materials when using them in any publication, whether it be a book, film, magazine or newspaper, blog, website, presentation, school project, report, or zine.

Citations credit the original creator for their work, validate your source as authentic, and help Archives staff locate items when asked about materials in your published work.

For all educational and non-profit purposes, please freely use our materials and cite the City of Portland Archives using the instructions below. For all commercial purposes, please contact before use.

View our Citation Instructions.

Finishing up

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 or call us at 503-865-4100.

  • Currently, hi-res scans are made at no cost, though you may be asked to narrow down the number of requested scans dependent on the queue for scanning and staff availability. 
  • Turnaround time for scans is 15 business days, but we will deliver files to you as soon as we can!
  • Photocopies are reduced to fit on to 8½ x 11 sized paper and are printed double sided unless otherwise requested.
  • It is likely we can make photocopies for you on the spot, but depending on 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.