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Oregon Genealogy

Oregon started collecting most birth and death registrations in 1903, and the state office will have material going back to roughly that date only. That means a good amount of Oregon genealogy information is available, with some restrictions.

Oregon Vital Records

The main source of Oregon genealogy data is typically the vital records, which are the birth, death and marriage registrations for the state. They have records back to 1903 (marriage records start in 1906), but there are privacy restrictions that will limit what records you can get copies of.

Birth records are the toughest. There is a privacy restriction for 100 years after the date of birth, and during that time only direct relations are permitted to acquire copies. After 100 years, they are public domain. There is a similar 50-year rule for both death and marriage records. If you are permitted to make the request, you can do so for all 3 records at the Vital Records office in Portland.

Their website has the forms, and you can print them out at home to be filled in with dates, names and locations to identify the exact record you are looking for. Along with that information, you will need to also provide your own contact details, a copy of your photo ID and the current search fee. If you are going to their service counter in person then you can just show your ID then.

At the counter, you will get your documents back while you wait, but mailed in applications will take more than 4 weeks to be returned. The fee for a vital record is $20 and non-refundable. If paying by check or money order, make it out to "DHS Vital Records".

Oregon State Archives

You can also do more in-depth genealogy studies at the Oregon State Archives, where you can access a large collection of diverse documents on Oregon genealogy. Their holdings include historical maps, county histories, census records, land records, naturalization documents, probate court records and all public vital records.

Access to any of this material is free, though you will have to pay for any photocopying that you do. Their facility is located in Salem, and they are open daily from Monday through Friday.

Oregon Genealogy Groups

If you have tried these sources for information and are still coming up empty handed, you should get in touch with one of the local genealogy groups. You may find others who have already done similar research and can help you out. Many groups also have their own collections of books and documents other than what is available at the State Archive.

State-wide groups include the Genealogy Forum of Oregon and the Oregon Historical Society. The second one does focus on more than just genealogy though.

There are plenty of county-based groups for a more focused search, and some that encompass other regions like the Rogue Valley Genealogical Society.

There may be fees associated with joining but that will usually allow you to have access to their private collections and possibly even newsletters and other regular publications that they issue.

State Resources Sites 

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