NGS Research in the States Series: Oregon


“Oregon’s ‘healthful’ climate and fertile soil…appealed to desperate families from older states suffering the economic effects of the Panic of 1837. [By 1850] nearly sixty percent of teh territory’s pioneer families were from the states that lined the Ohio and Upper Mississippi rivers”


This Issue: NGS Research in the States Series: Oregon; written by Connie Miller Lenzen.


Despite political and territorial interest in the area, migrants weren’t easily convinced to leave the east and make the 2,000 mile journey to the north west coast. Not until the mid-to-late 1840s did people begin to migrate in recognizable numbers. Most of the states pioneering families came from the upper Mississippi and Ohio river areas. Many came in wagon trains following the famous Oregon trail. More early history information is available in the guide.

Each guide in this series offers a bit of history behind each type of record or resource as well as names and descriptions for specific archives.  For example, under the heading Probate Records, you will find the following:

“Oregon’s first court was established in 1841 to probate Ewing Young’s estate. Young died without a will, and his large land and property holdings required a legal process for distribution.

“Probate records were usually kept from the beginning of each county, and many records and indexes are still in the county courthouses. Over the years, jurisdiction passed from the County Court to the Circuit Court, with some exceptions. Most old records are in offsite storage and need to be requested in advance. Some records have been moved to the Oregon State Archives. The Archives’ Oregon Historical County Records Guide lists probate records for each county and where they are located.”

In the guide, each section is handled in like manner. Plenty of specific information on what records are available and where to find them.

About the Series

Beginning in 1987, the National Genealogical Society began publishing a series of state guides in the organization’s magazine, the Quarterly. These guides were later re-issued as special publications designed to support genealogical research in each state. Eventually those guides became outdated and out of print. The current set of guides represents a refresh of those publications, updated and improved for today’s traditional and digital research resources.

About the Author

Connie Miller Lenzen specializes in Oregon research as is the author of Oregon Guide to Genealogical Resources. She currently serves as Director for the National Genealogical Society, where she has volunteered since 1990. Connie is a board certified genealogist.

More About the State Guides (from the Introduction)

“Readers should be aware that every effort has been made to include current web addresses throughout the publication and all were verified immediately prior to release…”

“Two research facilities used by many genealogists are the Family History Library (FHL) and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Most genealogists are familiar with teh abbreviations used for these two facilities and they are used in these publications. Otherwise the use of abbreviations and acronyms is kept to a minimum.”

Table of Contents

History and Settlements

  • The Missionaries
  • Wagon Trains
  • Early Government

Archives, Libraries, and Societies

  • Oregon Historical Society Library
  • Oregon State Archives
  • Oregon State Library
  • Genealogical Forum of Oregon Library
  • Knight Library
  • Multnomath County Library

Major Resources

  • Aids to Research
  • Atlases, Gazetteers, and Maps
  • Biographical Guides
  • Cemetery Records
  • Census Records
    • Territorial Censuses
    • State Censuses
    • Federal Census — Auxiliary Schedules
  • City and County Directories
  • City-Level Research
  • Court Records
    • County and State-Districts Level
    • State Appeals Level
    • Federal Courts
  • Ethnic Records
    • Native American
    • Chinese
    • African Americans
  • Genealogical and Historical Periodicals
  • Land and Property Records
    • Provisional-government Records
    • Federal Level
    • County Level
  • Military Records
    • Territorial and State Level
    • Federal Level
  • Naturalization and Immigration Records
    • Immigration Records
  • Newspapers
  • Probate Records
  • Religious Records
  • Tax Records
  • Vital Records
    • Birth Records
    • Death Records
    • Marriage Records
    • Divorce Records
  • Voter Records
  • Women of Oregon
  • Conclusion

These guides are an excellent resource for state by state research. Available guides, including NGS Research in the States Series: Oregon are available from Family Roots Publishing.

Other guides in series reviewed to date (in alphabetical order):

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