Блоги: Local interest

a group of kids help pick up trash at a park
Winter is a wonderful time to give back to the community.  Did you know that you can volunteer with your kids?  It's true!  Many local organizations allow young people to volunteer alongside the adults in their lives.  Read on for community service opportunities where your whole family can make an impact.  

Start with a Short-Term Project.  Hands On Greater Portland, a volunteer program of United Way of the Columbia-Willamette, connects thousands of volunteers to projects every year.  There are short-term (2 hours maximum) and long-term opportunities with a variety of organizations.  Start with the Volunteer with Your Kids page for their calendar of upcoming family-friendly projects.  

Help Fight Hunger.  Check with Oregon Food Bank or Sunshine Division, which rely on volunteers in getting food and other necessities to families and individuals who need them the most.  

Gather Supplies for Shelters. Spend a few hours collecting and distributing items needed for shelters that serve people experiencing houselessness.   Organizations in need of supplies include: Portland Family Homeless Solutions, Blanchet House, JOIN, CityTeamPortland Rescue Mission, and Transition Projects.  Check their websites for their most urgent needs.

Deliver Meals and Groceries. Bring your kids along to drop off meals or food baskets to people who cannot easily leave their homes.  Volunteer with Meals on Wheels People and Store to Door of Oregon

Get Outdoors.  Plant trees, get rid of invasive weeds, and help maintain school, community and public gardens!  Check out Zenger Farm, Portland Fruit Tree Project, Friends of Trees, City of Gresham, and Portland Parks and Recreation for outdoor, nature-based opportunities.  

Give Books! Collect used children's books in your community or neighborhood to donate to kids in the area who may not have access to books at home or at a library.  Children's Book Bank is a local organization that distributes books to local Head Start programs and other community organizations in need of books.  

Do you know of additional family-friendly service opportunities that we should include here?  Please let us know and we'll add it to the list.  

This article was written for our Family Newsletter, available in English and Spanish. Please sign up here and you can email us at learning@multcolib.org with any questions.

1. What do you think of Jacob’s style of art? Would the story have been less or more effective with a different style?

2. Have you ever read a graphic novel or illustrated memoir? How do the illustrations help the reader to understand the relationships between characters?

3. How do the big historical events described in the book tie in with the storyline of Jacob’s life -- do they advance the story? Setting aside that this is a memoir, could a plot without reference to national events have been as effective?

4. How does the relationship between Mira and her son serve to underline the themes of the book? How are Z’s questions different from those an adult might ask, and how do they change our understanding of the author’s narrative?

5. Jacob includes many conversations around skin color and how that shapes her marriage opportunities. How did she first learn that “dark meant ugly” within her Indian culture? How does she connect and contrast that colorism to the choices she makes and her relationships with family?

6. As a first generation American, Jacob’s personal and romantic life contrast with those of her family, who expect her to marry an Indian man. How does she navigate the cultural divide? How does she explore issues of sexuality?

7. The title Jacob chose is sometimes said at the end of a difficult conversation. How is that common usage played upon in the memoir?

8. Think about your own life and the conversations that you might include in your own memoir. Why were these conversations significant? Were there any important conversations about world events? Is there a common theme among them?

9. Here are some more topics for further discussion: Relationships between generations and cultures; immigrants parenting first generation Americans; unconscious bias and microagressions; the role of religion in politics.

Learn about Everybody Reads and upcoming events.

Everybody Reads 2022, a community reading project of Multnomah County Library, is made possible in part by gifts to The Library Foundation with author appearance made possible by Literary Arts.

heading from an early page of the Ledger Index to City of Portland Deaths

Have you ever had trouble finding an obituary for a Portland ancestor who died around the turn of the last century?  You’re not alone!

In the 19th century and even in the early 20th, newspapers often put obituaries in with the regular news, making them hard to find.  This was also before it was common for Portland newspapers to include a "Daily city statistics" section listing the names of people who had died in the city recently.  So it’s no wonder that it can be a big challenge to find Portland obituaries from before about 1910.  

But I have good news for you: if your ancestor was a Portlander, and if they died within city limits 1881-1917, their death was probably recorded in the Ledger Index to City of Portland Deaths.

What is the Ledger Index?

The Ledger Index to City of Portland Deaths is a long list of people who died in the city of Portland 1881-1917.  It’s quite a bit more robust than most modern death indexes -- in addition to the name and death date of each person included, it includes details like the address or name of the place where the person died, their cause of death, and (in some years) the name of the cemetery where they were buried.  This additional information makes the Ledger Index a pretty decent substitute for obituaries.  

Here’s what the Ledger Index actually looks like.  The library has a microfilmed copy, which is why it’s white text on a black background.

Finding your ancestor

The Ledger Index is arranged by date of death -- because of this, it’s sometimes referred to as the “Chronologic Index.”  If you know the date your ancestor died, simply go to that date and hopefully you’ll find them!

If you don’t know your ancestor’s date of death, try looking for their name in the Oregon State Archives’ Oregon Historical Records Index.  This index includes most records from the Ledger Index to City of Portland Deaths.  If your ancestor is listed, their date of death should lead you to the correct page of the Ledger Index.

Racial classification in the Ledger Index

There are some challenges to using the Ledger Index.  The information in the Index is a primary source, created a full century ago, and it is a government record reflecting the mainstream standards and ideas of its time.  There is no context or commentary to interpret the index for you -- you will have to provide your own analysis.  

One thing these records show us is the unexamined racism of the past.  The Ledger Index states the race of each person listed, often using terms that are decidedly not used in polite speech today: “Chinese,” “Colored,” “Half-Breed,” “Mulatto,” “White,” and possibly others.  Some of these terms appear on the zoomed-in image from January 1882 at left.  In later years, single-letter abbreviations are used.  There is no key showing what the abbreviations meant, but I’ve guessed that “C” stands for “colored” (meaning Black or African-American); “W” for “white;” and “Y” for “yellow” (meaning Asian or Asian-American).   

Causes of death in the Ledger Index

This detail from a January 1882 Ledger Index page shows some familiar-sounding causes of death: “still born,” "consumption," “scarlet fever.”  But read if you read through a few pages worth of deaths, you'll also find unexpected causes like “softening of spinal marrow.”  If you find your ancestor’s death has officially been recorded due to something that doesn’t sound like it would kill a person, be prepared to draw gentle, careful conclusions.  And remember, you may need to do some research to discover what a cause-of-death term meant in the past. 

Portland deaths only

Another thing to beware of when using the Ledger Index to City of Portland Deaths is that it mostly only includes people who died within the city limits of Portland.  And the city was quite a bit smaller 100 years ago than it is now!  (A few people whose bodies were cared for by a Portalnd undertaker or whose bodies travelled through Portland are also included.)

Fortunately, the Portland Bureau of Planning & Sustainability has a very helpful map showing historical annexations to the city of Portland (pdf), which you can look at to get a sense for where city limits were during your ancestor’s lifetime.  

Of course, people are mobile.  The Ledger Index lists people who died in Portland, not people who lived there.  Your ancestor who lived in Linnton or East Portland or St. Johns could well have died within Portland city limits, particularly if they died in an accident or in a hospital.

Using the Ledger Index, and getting help with it

You can consult the Ledger Index to City of Portland Deaths at Central Library.  Ask at any reference desk, and the librarian on duty will help you get the volumes you need.  To read it, you’ll need to use one of Central Library’s microfilm machines -- read more about that in my colleague Ross B.’s post Microfilm at the library.

But you don’t have to visit the library to tap the riches of this great resource --  librarians are always happy to help.  Just get in touch with us by phone or email, and we’ll do our best to answer your questions or help you plan your research. 

In the meantime, happy researching!

 

A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf
What do writers need? Virginia Woolf famously said that “a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction” (in the essay A Room of One’s Own). Writers need time, and space to pursue their craft. Writers need support, which can take the form of opportunities to read aloud, or to hear other writers talking about writing, or a community of supportive critical readers.

There are lots of organizations in the Portland area that offer resources for writers! Some are free, others are cheap (though not all). They involve various commitments of time. Here are some local organizations, roughly grouped  - but you’ll see that they are hard to categorize… 

Writing groups, workshops, and classes

The Attic Institute presents workshops, classes, and individual consultation about writing projects.

Lewis and Clark Northwest Writing Institute offers classes for community members.

The Mountain Writers Series presents monthly readings and writing workshops. The links section of their webpage connects to a huge number of other local organizations!

The Multnomah Arts Center offers some wonderful literary arts classes.

Portland State University has a few different academic programs in creative writing.

VoiceCatcher is a nonprofit connecting and empowering women writers in Portland.

Write Around Portland offers free creative writing workshops in social service settings, and creates publication and reading opportunities for workshop participants.

Cultivate Writing and Meditation Retreats for women. Twice annually, Hood River.

Membership organizations

The Independent Publishing Resource Center (IPRC) offers resources and workshops related to printing and book-making. They also have certificate programs in creative nonfiction/fiction, poetry, and comics/graphic novels.

Oregon Poetry Association, Oregon’s oldest and largest literary organization, offers community, contests, and conferences.

Oregon Writers Colony offers community, conferences and workshops, and the use of a beach house writing retreat!

Rose City Romance Writers, the Portland, Oregon chapter of Romance Writers of America, educates, supports, and mentors published and unpublished romance writers.

Willamette Writers hosts regular meetings for the exchange of ideas related to writing and craft.

Reading series

Literary Arts’ programs include Portland Arts and Lectures, Writers in the Schools, the Oregon Book Awards and Fellowships, and Delve Readers Seminars.

There are many different reading series in Portland! You could head out to hear writers read their work at the Free Range Poetry series at the Northwest Library,  Mountain Writers series, the Spare Room series,  the submission reading series, Burnt Tongue, Unchaste Readers, or The Switch... you could catch a reading when the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (FWWA) Pacific Northwest Reading Series has a Portland event...  or you could see one of the many readings at Powell's Books! The Notable Portland column on The Rumpus lists select awesome events, mostly literary oriented.

Local Publishers

The Northwest is home to a vibrant publishing world. Here are just a few:

  • Ooligan Press -  is a student-run trade press dedicated to cultivating the next generation of publishing professionals. Ooligan works with the library to publish selections from The Library Writers Project.
  • Microcosm Publishing - Microcosm specializes in nonfiction DIY (Do-It-Yourself) books, zines, and decks that focus on the reader and teach self-empowerment.
  • Forest Avenue Press - publishes literary fiction on a joyride and the occasional memoir. Our titles are infused with a fresh, complex, sometimes nutty, and often-wondrous approach to storytelling.
  • Sasquatch Books - publishes books by the most gifted writers, artists, chefs, naturalists, and thought leaders in the Pacific Northwest and on the West Coast.

To connect to more publishers and keep up with Northwest book news, especially indy stores and authors, check out the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association.

Other stuff

Although temporarily closed due to pandemic restrictions, Multnomah County’s Central Library offers the Sterling Room for Writers, where writers can find a quiet work space in close proximity to all the resources the library has to offer. Interested writers must submit an application and be approved to gain access to the room.

a blank Oregon marraige certificate
So by now it’s old news: same-sex couples in Oregon have the right to marry on equal footing with opposite-sex couples.  

Deciding whether or not to marry can be a very personal and emotional matter.  And planning a wedding, goodness knows, has myriad practical, interpersonal and emotional aspects. But deciding whether to marry and/or planning a wedding may also have legal implications.  For same-sex couples, the legal implications can be complex, unfamiliar or just plain unclear.  Never fear, though -- librarians are here to help!  Let’s pick apart some of the questions same-sex couples might face as they consider marriage:

Deciding if you want to marry

The opening up of marriage laws is an unequivocal joy for some couples who want to marry.  For other individuals and couples, the ability to marry legally raises both questions and concerns.

One great way to navigate this challenge is to learn more about your options.  And one option is: not getting married.  Unmarried Equality is a California-based civil rights organization which advocates for “equality and fairness for unmarried people, including people who are single, choose not to marry, cannot marry, or live together before marriage.”  Their website provides information about and support for a variety of ways to be unmarried, as well as some resources for and about people who consciously choose not to marry.

Actually getting married

Have you decided to marry?  In Oregon, the first technical step in getting married is to get a license, from the county in which you will wed.  The Multnomah County Division of Assessment, Recording & Taxation issues marriage licenses in Multnomah County, and their website lists all the requirements and fees for getting a marriage license -- and explains the steps you’ll follow once you have your license. The ACLU of Oregon also has a helpful FAQ about getting married in Oregon, which includes a directory of the marriage license offices for all 36 Oregon counties.

Once you have your license, you’ll need to find an officiant -- usually this is a religious leader or judge.  Your county clerk or registrar’s office may have a list of judges and other officials who can perform a marriage.

Next, have your ceremony!  

Miscellaneous practical matters -- including d-i-v-o-r-c-e

Marriage can change your tax status or have an effect on your estate planning, property ownership, child custody arrangements, and a whole host of other business-like issues.  And dare I say it, you may also want to think about what will happen if your relationship doesn’t last until death do you part. 

There are a number of practical books about LGBTQ couples and the law including: 

If none of these look perfect for your situation, check out one of these other books about LGBTQ couples and the law.

Getting expert legal help

Do you have other specific questions about marriage and its implications for your taxes, child custody, inheritance and the like?  If so, you may want to get personal legal advice.  Or perhaps you and your spouse have already married or entered into a formal domestic or civil partnership, and you have questions about your status.  I’m a librarian and not an attorney, so I can’t give legal advice.  But librarians are always happy to help you locate resources!  

Here are a couple of great places to start with your specific same-sex marriage legal questions:

The civil rights organization Lambda Legal has a legal help desk (call 1-866-542-8336) which “provides information and assistance regarding discrimination related to sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and HIV status.”  Lambda Legal's website also includes a section about the changing legal issues around marriage and family law for LGBTQ individuals, couples and families.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights provides legal assistance to people with LGBTQ-related legal questions as well as a small library of resources on specific legal issues

And, the Oregon State Bar has a lawyer referral service that you can use to help get in touch with a local attorney who works in the right area of law for your specific needs.

Do you have other questions?

Please, ask a librarian anytime for more resources to help with your queer legal research (or really, with your anything research!).  Or visit your local county law library for a wider range of legal materials. 


Although we are always happy to help you locate resources and give you search tips, it is against state law for library staff members to engage in any conduct that might constitute the unauthorized practice of law; we may not interpret statutes, cases or regulations, perform legal research, recommend or assist in the preparation of forms, or advise patrons regarding their legal rights.


 

Drawing of Lady Justice in front of an American flag.
Life is full of law questions. Whether you are researching laws or looking for legal help, we can suggest some excellent resources to help you out.

First, a caveat: It is against state law for library staff members to engage in any conduct that might constitute the unauthorized practice of law; we may not interpret statutes, cases or regulations, perform legal research, recommend or assist in the preparation of forms, or advise patrons regarding their legal rights.

The following is not a comprehensive list, but it will help you get started. (Check out COVID-19 laws and legal help for resources specific to the pandemic.) If you have questions or need research suggestions, contact us anytime!


Free & reduced-cost legal help:

The Community Legal & Educational Access & Referral Clinic provides free assistance with criminal record and eviction expungements, DACA applications and renewals, housing and immigration court navigation, legal name and gender-marker changes, and more.
 
Legal Aid Services of Oregon
A statewide non-profit organization that provides access to legal help for people to protect their livelihoods, their health, and their families.
 
The OSB Lawyer Referral Service can refer you to a lawyer who may be able to assist you with your legal matter.
 
Oregon State Bar Modest Means program
An OSB program to help moderate-income Oregonians find affordable legal assistance.
 
A nonprofit law firm that offers sliding-scale legal services.

Legal advocacy and assistance for:

Artists
Consumers
Crime victims
Families
Immigrants and refugees
Inmates
LGBTQ+ community
Military service members and their dependents
Native American community
People with disabilities
Renters
Russian community
Seniors
Teens
Veterans
Workers

Legal research and forms:

General legal information on a variety of topics, provided as a public service by Oregon's lawyers. 
 
The codified laws of the state of Oregon, including the Vehicle Code. Use this site to see the exact text of a law, like the one(s) cited on your traffic ticket.
 
Free legal information for low-income Oregonians.
 
Links to resources for users who want to learn more about the law and courts or want to represent themselves in a legal matter.
 
One-on-one help, legal research tools, classes and instructions for litigants so that they can meaningfully participate in the court process. Free to all self-represented parties, regardless of income. This is the County "law library" available to non-lawyers; the Multnomah Law Library is now only open to members of the Oregon State Bar.  The Washington County Law Library is open to the public and has many great resources online and in person.
 
Promoting justice by providing all Oregonians with access to legal information and legal research assistance.
 
Forms, court records, and information about going to court.
 
Free online access to court calendars and basic case information for the Oregon circuit courts and the Oregon Tax Court.
 
A legal research tool that lets you search sources of law from Oregon, the U.S. Government and many other western states. 
 
Provides online access to briefs and opinions of the Oregon Supreme and Appellate Courts, legal research guides, and in-person and virtual legal reference services.
 
Information and forms from the federal Judiciary.
 
Includes legislative information and a Guide to Law Online.
 
Learn about your rights as a person living in the United States of America.
 
Find out how to file a complaint or appeal a decision related to health information privacy, civil rights, Medicare, and more.
 
 
This guide originally researched and authored by Joanna Milner. Links checked and updated by Lara P. on 9/29/2021

The COVID-19 pandemic presents many unique legal challenges. Here are some ways to get the information and support you need during this difficult time. (Check out Law help: legal research assistance and legal aid for more resources.)

Note: It is against state law for library staff members to engage in any conduct that might constitute the unauthorized practice of law; we may not interpret statutes, cases or regulations, perform legal research, recommend or assist in the preparation of forms, or advise patrons regarding their legal rights.
 
If you have questions or need research suggestions, contact us anytime!

Renters

Oregon’s statewide eviction moratorium expired on June 30, 2021 and is no longer active. But help is available -- even if you receive an eviction notice. Two new laws, Senate Bill 282 and Senate Bill 278, provide important protections to help tenants. Renters are protected from nonpayment evictions if they apply for rent assistance and provide documentation of their application to their landlords. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s temporary protection from eviction may also offer protection to renters. You have the right to all of these protections regardless of your citizenship status.
 
Apply for rental assistance online from the Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program (Allita) if you need help paying your rent (or back rent that you’ve accrued between April 2020 and June 2021). If you need assistance with your application, you can call 211info at 2.1.1 or 866.698.6155, or the administrators of Multnomah County Emergency Rental Assistance at 503.988.0466.
 
If you or your household receive an eviction notice for nonpayment of rent, contact 211info immediately to learn about rapid-payment rent assistance that may help you avoid eviction. Call 2.1.1 or 866.698.6155, text your zip code to 898211, or email help@211info.org. You might also be able to get free legal help from the following:
 
If you are unsure of your legal rights, you can also contact the Community Alliance of Tenants Renters Rights Hotline at 503.288.0130. They are available Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays 1-5 pm, and Tuesdays 6-8 pm.
 
The most up-to-date information for renters can be found on 211info’s Multnomah County Rent Relief page.
 

Homeowners and landlords

 
Applications for the last round of the Landlord Compensation Fund were due June 23. Landlords are encouraged to work with tenants to keep them in place so they can apply for help with back rent. Here is more information for landlords and property managers about the Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
 

Workers and business owners

Statewide mask requirements are in place again due to the Delta variant, though some older regulations on distancing have been relaxed. Oregon OSHA continues to handle complaints on those requirements that remain (such as for public transportation and correctional facilities). If you need to report hazards at a worksite, or believe you have been discriminated against on the basis of safety and health issues, you can file a complaint online or call 503.229.5910.
 
The Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries has information on the rights and responsibilities of workers and employers regarding sick leave, quarantine, vaccinations and more. For more information, call 971-673-0761, email help@boli.state.or.us, or file a complaint online.
 
If you lost income during the pandemic, you may qualify for unemployment benefits. Contact the Oregon Employment Department for assistance by calling 833-410-1004 or filling out their contact form online.  
 
If you are an agricultural worker recovering from COVID-19, seeking healthcare, and/or practicing quarantine and isolation, the Quarantine Fund can help. Call 1-888-274-7292 to apply.
 
If you are a restaurant worker whose life has been affected by the pandemic, check out this list of resources for restaurant workers compiled by the Restaurant Workers' Community Foundation.
 
If you own a business  that has struggled during the pandemic, Lewis & Clark Law School's Small Business Legal Clinic has a list of pandemic-related legal resources for small businesses. Greater Portland also has a list of resources for everything from finding grants for small business loans to  using space in the public right-of-way.
 

Immigrants and Refugees

The Oregon Attorney General has compiled a list of COVID-19 resources for immigrants and refugees. Protecting Immigrant Families has an overview of some of the federal public programs available to support immigrants and their families during the COVID-19 crisis. Call the Oregon Public Benefits Hotline at 800.520.5292 for legal advice and representation in regard to problems with government benefits.

If you have lost your job but are ineligible for Unemployment Insurance and federal stimulus relief due to your immigration status, the Oregon Worker Relief Fund may be able to help. Call 888.274.7292 to apply for a one-time temporary disaster relief.
 
Here is a list of low cost legal resources for immigrants in the Portland Metro area.
 

Consumers

Beware of scams related to COVID-19! Both the Oregon Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission have lists of common scams and frauds and how to avoid them. If you have a complaint about an Oregon-based business or charity, file a complaint online or call the Oregon Attorney General’s Consumer Hotline at 1.877.877.9392. If you want to report fraud or scam from a business or charity based outside of Oregon (or if you aren’t sure of the location), notify the Federal Trade Commission.
 
This guide originally researched and authored by Joanna Milner. Links checked and updated by Lara P. on 9/29/2021

Genealogists will often go pretty far out of their way to track down obituaries and funeral notices.  And with good reason!  An average, non-fancy funeral notice often reveals the names of family members, the place of burial or interment, the deceased’s home address, and other details crucial to family history research.  But they can be a challenge to find.

Despite their names, Portland's two long-running daily newspapers the Oregon Journal (published 1902-1982) and the Oregonian (published 1861-present) were/are local papers focusing on readers in the Portland area.  So for the most part, these newspapers did not publish obituaries for people who lived in other parts of our very large state.

Whose obituaries can you expect to find in the Oregon Journal and the Oregonian?

The vast majority of the funeral notices, death notices, and obituaries in the Oregon Journal and the Oregonian are for people who lived in the Portland area or had some deep Portland connections.  They are usually very, very short!  Sam Nudelman’s funeral notice (at right), from the August 17, 1944 Oregonian, is a good example.  It is brief and to-the-point, listing only Mr. Nudelman's date of death, his address, a short list of his surviving relatives, and information about his funeral services and place of burial.

Sometimes the deaths of prominent figures in Oregon politics, business, or social life were written up in the Journal or the Oregonian, even if they were from Burns or Salem or Joseph.  A person’s statewide fame might make their obituary of local interest despite the fact that they lived and died far away from the Rose City.  

However, these notices often have the feel of straight news, rather than obituary.  For example, the day after former Oregon senator and long-time Eugenian Wayne Morse died in 1974,  the Oregonian ran a full-page-width headline at the very tippy-top of page one (at left).  

In the early years of the 20th century and before, obituaries for Oregon “pioneers” (that is, European-American settlers who travelled west to the Oregon country in the mid-19th century or thereabouts) were a regular feature in the Oregonian.  And the editors regularly featured obituaries for pioneers who lived and died in other parts of Oregon.  An example (at right) is the brief obituary for Mrs. Mary Goodman, of Eugene, from the January 2, 1909 Oregonian.

Are you ready to start searching for an obituary or death notice in the Oregon Journal or the Oregonian?

If you think your ancestor's obituary or death/funeral notice is likely to be in the Oregonian, you can get started by searching for their name in the library's Historical Oregonian (1861-1987).  To look for obituaries in the Journal, search for your ancestro's name in Oregon Journal (1902-1982). (To use these resources from outside the library, you'll need to log in with your library card number and password.)

If these newspaper archive resources are new to you, we can help. Get in touch with a librarian for personalized help with your research! And remember, if you don't find an obituary, death notice, or funeral notice that you think really ought to have been in the Oregonian or the Oregon Journal, librarians can always help you think of other ways to search.

When should you look somewhere other than the Oregon Journal and the Oregonian?

Are you looking for an obituary for a Portland resident, but can’t find it in the Oregon Journal or the Oregonian? Portland has had many other daily and weekly newspapers that ran obituaries over the years. Central Library has long archives of many of these papers for your researching pleasure! If you want to begin your research on your own, take a look at Research with historical Portland newspapers, beyond the Oregonian. If you’d like a hand getting started, ask the librarian on duty in Central Library’s Periodicals room (on the second floor), or contact us to get personalized help from a librarian by phone or email.

If you've done all that great newspaper research but you're not finding an obituary for a Portland ancestor, you might want to try another tack. Take a look at my post Can't find that Portland obituary? Try the Ledger Index instead -- it talks about using an early and surprisingly detailed death index to learn details about a deceased person when there isn't an obituary available.

Did the person you’re researching reside in St. Johns or Gresham? Try looking for a funeral notice or obituary in their local paper. The St. Johns Review had really lovely, robust obituaries in its early years, and most issues of the Review from 1904-1922 and 2015-2016 are fully searchable in the University of Oregon Libraries’ wonderful Historic Oregon Newspapers database. Multnomah County's own Gresham Library has an archive of the Gresham Outlook going back to 1911; librarians there can help you search, or you can get help from a librarian by phone, chat or email.

If the deceased person you’re looking for lived outside the Portland area (even if they died in Portland or in Multnomah County), look for an obituary or death notice in their hometown paper

If you’re not sure what the name of that newspaper was, or even if there was a newspaper in print at the time, the next step is to ask the public library in the town where the deceased person resided. Oregon public libraries of all sizes are listed in the Oregon Library Directory. If you need to find a public library in a town outside Oregon, ask us for help the next time you’re at the library, or ask a librarian by phone, chat or email!

 


Do you want to learn more about family history research with obituaries? My colleague Kate S. walks you through some of the basics in her post on Obituaries 101.

Or, call or email a librarian to get personalized help with your obituaries-related questions. If you’d rather have face-to-face help, ask the librarian on duty the next time you visit the library.  We're always happy to help!


 

Portland City Archives: A2001-004.94 : 219 N Cherry St

Nearly every house history researcher wants to see old photographs or drawings of their house.  Who wouldn't, right?  Unfortunately for Portland-area house history buffs, this can be one of the hardest bits of house history ephemera to track down!  But don't despair; there are surviving photographs of some houses and it is possible (sometimes) to find them. 

The challenge is that there has never been a comprehensive house-portrait project in Portland -- or any other city or town in our area -- so there is no treasure trove of photos of local homes that you can dig through.  You might wonder, if there's no big archive of house pictures, where should you start?  There are a few possibilities:

First, ask your neighbors or the people in your neighborhood association.  People who live on your street may have their own old photographs of family events, parties, or other occasions which include your house in the background.  And a bonus -- when you find that long-time resident and photo-saver, they may share stories about past residents of your house or other interesting neighborhood lore!

Houses sometimes appear in the background of photographs taken to record activity on the street.  The city of Portland has a lot of photographs of infrastructure and maintenance work they've done over the years. 

Many of these images are carefully preserved in the Portland City Archives collection. These images usually show city workers doing something in the neighborhood (such as repairing the sewer like in the photo at left) or were taken in connection with city planning work, like a street scene before the installation of a new traffic light.  You can search for records (including photographs) using the Archives' catalog, Efiles, and some have been published on the archives's Vintage Portland blog -- see below for more about that! But, most photographs in the collection aren't available online.  To look at original photographs in person, you'll need to visit the Archives reading room downtown (1800 SW 6th Ave., Suite 550; 503.865.4100).  

The Oregon Historical Society library is another treasure trove for house history researchers.  Their collection includes more than 2.5 million photographs and negatives of people, communities, commerce, and life in the Pacific Northwest -- the photograph collection doesn't have a section devoted to house portraits, but you may find photographs of your street, or photographs indexed under the name of a former owner of the house.  Some of the library's photographs have been digitized and can be viewed in the library's catalog, but most are available only by visiting in person (1200 SW Park Ave.; 503.222.1741).  

NOTE: As of March 2021, the Oregon Historical Society and the Portland City Archives are both closed to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic.  Contact them to see what services they can offer remotely.

Another potential source for house portraits and street scenes is the Vintage Portland blog, run by the Portland City Archives.  Every weekday the site features a different historical photograph (or sometimes a map or drawing) of Portland.  The posts are sorted into categories for neighborhoods, street names, time periods, and topics.  For example, if you are curious about the development of your neighborhood as well as the history of your house, you might want to look at the blog's many aerial photographs; or you might try looking at a neighborhood street like Foster Rd., Powell Blvd., or 82nd Ave.

If the house you're researching happens to be in the Albina district, you may find a photograph of it in The History of Albina, by Roy E. Roos.  The book begins with a brief a history of the district (and former city), but it also includes brief architectural history for a selection of houses and other buildings that are representative of different eras in Albina's development.  Many of the brief house histories are illustrated with contemporary photographs or have no pictures, but some have historic photographs or drawings.

Have fun hunting for a historic photo of your house!

 

  Questions? Ask the Librarian.

Two women and a young girl blow bubbles outside in a field

“I routinely prescribe nature to children and families.  Nature has the power to heal."  

-Dr. Nooshin Razani, pediatrician, presenter of the TED Talk "Presribing Nature for Health"

Research suggests that taking a walk, visiting a park, or getting out in nature can relieve stress, encourage social bonds, and support physical activity.  Less stress means less depression, anxiety, and isolation...not just for kids, but for adults, too!  

Portland Parks and Recreation offers plenty of opportunities for adventure!  Search for your next destination through the Find a Park feature, and be sure to check out their list of Inclusive Playgrounds, which is growing!  Gresham also offers an array of parks and trails to explore. Troutdale, with its proximity to the Sandy and Columbia rivers, offers plenty of fun options as well, and Fairview is home to many others, including our favorite, Salish Pond Wetlands Park.

Wait, there’s more! Metro Parks and Natural Areas offer 17,000 acres of outdoor exploration!  Try out the Interactive Park Finder, and while you’re there, check out their Parks and Nature News section for the latest on the ways our community enjoys nature.  

We love keeping up with Metro’s Our Big Backyard magazine and exploring back issues for beautiful photographs. The latest (Fall 2020) issue features two articles written by members of our community.  

While you're outside, you can take advantage of the learning opportunities it offers.  Portland Parks has created an at-home nature activities page, with links to videos and other activities that tap into kids’ sense of curiosity.  You can find a Flower Scavenger Hunt, a Birds of Portland guide, and a map of Tree Museums that are open for viewing right in your neighborhood.  

There’s so much to see and do out there, so take Dr. Razani’s prescription and get outside!   Even just a little bit can do wonders for your health - mental, physical, emotional, and overall!


This article was written for our Family Newsletter, brought to you by Home Learning Support and available in English and Spanish. Please sign up here and you can email us at learning@multcolib.org with any questions.

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