Visit the Library

The Oregon Historical Society Research Library is open to everyone, whether working on a specific project or just browsing the collections. Our mission is to make the rare documents, books, maps, recordings, and images in our care available to researchers like you.  Because we are a special collections library containing many rare or unique materials, we do have a number of guidelines we ask researchers to follow.  Please help us be good stewards of these rare materials by preparing for your visit and by reading and following the use guidelines.

Please plan ahead for your visit by using the online catalog and looking at our Research Help pages. Note that some materials are stored off-site and may require a week's notice prior to use. Please contact the Reference Desk at or 503.306.5240 (voicemail) to request collections retrieval from storage, or if you have any questions regarding using our library.

Hours Get Directions

Beginning Your Visit

All visitors to the OHS enter through the main lobby at 1200 SW Park Avenue, Portland. After checking in at the visitor services desk, you will be directed to the library, which is a short elevator ride away on the fourth floor.

All library visitors are required to register in the library on their first visit each calendar year by filling out a brief registration form and presenting current photo identification. With each subsequent visit during the year, please let the library greeter know you're making a return visit to the library.

Once you have registered we ask that you leave all bags, purses, backpacks and other containers in one of the secure lockers in the cloak room. If you are using a laptop or tablet computer, please remove it from the carrying case and stow the carrying case in your locker. If you do not need to wear your coat or sweater, we ask that you hang it in the coat room or stow it in your locker. Now you’re ready to begin your research! Our experienced reference staff will be happy to help you get started. 


  • Research Library materials are non-circulating. You may not check out books or other items or obtain them through interlibrary loan.
  • Except for reference books, stacks are closed. Materials must be requested by researchers and paged by library staff.
  • Photocopying is limited, so please allow ample time to take notes.
  • We suggest you conduct preliminary research at your local public or academic library, where you may find a good selection of books, serials, and newspapers to help you prepare for specialized research in our library.
  • Many items do not appear in our online catalog but are indexed on-site.
  • Children under 15 must be accompanied by an adult.
  • Note that some materials are stored off-site and may require a week's notice prior to use. Please contact the reference desk for retrieval from storage, or if you have any questions regarding using our library.

What to bring:

  • Pencil (no pens, please)
  • Paper or writing tablet
  • Laptop computers are allowed, and outlets are provided in the reading room. Cases, however, must be placed into a locker.
  • Taking pictures with cameras or cell phones is permissible (except for photographs) following our Camera Use Guidelines

What Not to Bring:

  • Scanners, tape recorders, or other electronic recording devices are not allowed in the reading room. The Research Library offers photo reproduction services for most items.
  • Strollers, carts, or other bulky items are also restricted.
  • Cell phones must be silenced.
  • Food and drink are not allowed in the Research Library.
  • All coats, book bags, briefcases, closed or zippered portfolios, backpacks, fanny packs, purses, hats, and other personal items must be placed in a locker or hung in the coatroom before entering the reading room.

Tips for Visiting the Oregon Historical Society

We ask that when you visit the Oregon Historical Society that you help us to ensure our collections remain safe.  Please consider leaving any items that need to be checked by our front desk/security at home or at the hotel to speed entry.

  1. Do not bring large bags, backpacks, or luggage into the museum, as you will be asked to leave them in our lockers.  If possible, leave such items on the tour or school bus or in a hotel room.
  2. A reminder: no accommodations are available for eating bag lunches within the museum except in the Plaza courtyard.
  3. Do not bring any weapons, including firearms, knives including pocket or Swiss Army style knives, pepper spray, mace, etc. into the museum.

The safety of the Oregon Historical Society visitors, volunteers, staff and collections is of the highest importance.  Thank you for adhering to our policy.


Copyright Information

The Oregon Historical Society is the owner of the materials in the Research Library and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from the Research Library prior to any use of reproductions. The Society does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners.

  • Permission is granted for one-time use only as described on the Permission Form.
  • Permission is non-exclusive and not transferable.
  • Use fees are assessed according to type of use.
  • All reproductions must be credited to the Oregon Historical Society Research Library with proper citation to the image number, collection name and number, or original publication.
  • Accompanying captions must indicate all changes made to the original copy, such as significant cropping, tinting, superimposing, digital alteration.
  • Maximum resolution for Web site usage is 72 dots per inch (640x480 pixels).
  • Web site usage requires a credit line (see above) on the same page as the image.
  • User assumes all responsibility for possible copyright infringement and invasion of privacy arising from the use of reproductions.

Copyright Restrictions

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specific conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research. If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of “fair use,” that user may be liable for copyright infringement. This institution reserves the right to refuse a copying order if, in its judgment, fulfillment of the order would involve violation of copyright law.

For further information, consult the U.S. Copyright Office at

Other Repositories

Although we hold the largest collection of Oregon-related materials, there are many other repositories that also hold significant Oregon collections. The major repositories are:

Many Oregon institutions share their collection guides on Archives West, a regional consortium of institutions with archival holdings.

OHS Affiliates around the state also collect and share historical materials.