Personal tools
You are here: Home Reading Room Genealogy


Document Actions

Family history research resources at WCCLS libraries

Find more for your genealogy research at the public library!
Washington County and other regional libraries offer a lot to the genealogist, including:

    • library book collections
    • local history holdings - primary documents, locally-created indexes and materials
    • magazines, general and genealogy research databases
    • maps and geographic reference materials
    • interlibrary loan services (access to library collections across the USA)
May 2011 - Presentation Slides for CYFT Conference


How to Get Started

Internet as An Iceberg -

It’s good to know that when doing your family history research, the Internet has both great and terrible information; it is important to learn which is which. As you work through your research plan, remember that the objective is to find original, authoritative records and materials that illuminate the stories behind the cold hard numbers of vital statistics. Your public library offers many options for your genealogy research.

There are many good tutorials on the web for using the library for your research: here's one from a local library, including the basic things to do before coming to the library:

Your Family History - from Multnomah County Library.
Follow librarian Janet Irwin through her own research process using library materials.

Be prepared before you come to the library! Start out right:

  • Do your "home" work: Gather what you already know
  • Organize your facts: Use tools to make information handling easy
  • Be ready to gather information: have your tools ready, whether they are digital or analog (laptop, notes, et al.)

Or check in with the How-To Center at:

Library book collections In Print and Online

Find how-to books on family history both in print and online:

In print 

Find more in the catalog – search Subject > Genealogy + your specific interest, or
browse Reference and Local History collections at the library in call numbers 929

This and more at the library – see catalog at:

Online - Ebook collections

 Local History @ the Library

Magazines  & Newspapers @ The Library

 Magazines - Circulating


Historic Oregon Newspapers: -- hosted by the University Of Oregon Libraries

Historical Newspapers Online:
 extensive list including links and directions about how you can get access to the papers.

America's Historical Newspapers > The Oregonian 1897-1986  (Multnomah County Library card required).

Microfilm of local papers: search library catalog for "newspaper" and "microfilm" - Hillsboro and Beaverton maintain collections.

Online Resources

  • Ancestry Library Edition (Available only from within WCCLS libraries)
  • HeritageQuest - Library card required: now has more fully digitized local history books, fully searchable. (25,000 titles and growing).
  • - Free (and for fee) digitized newspapers


Maps And Other Geographic Information

Interlibrary Loan - Reaching out across the country

Things to know about interlibrary loan requests:

  • Some materials cannot be loaned in their entirety so be specific in your citations (names you are looking for, full journal title/article title, page, issue, year)
  • Some libraries lack microfilm readers or other needed media equipment - Be sure to make alternate plans for using your microfilm if your local library does not have equipment on hand.
  • Some special requests may incur additional fees - Example: at Cedar Mill, Canadian Requests are $5. Libraries generally confirm additional fees with the user before placing the order.

 For More Information

 [Presentation based on materials created by Michele McKinnon Fricke for a seminar series in 2010 offered at CMCL.]