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The City of Portland, Oregon

Archives & Records Management

Office of the City Auditor

phone: 503-865-4100

email: parc@portlandoregon.gov

1800 SW 6th Ave, Suite 550, Portland, OR 97201

More Contact Info

Building Vanport and the Flood

ThisView of the exhibit case at the Archives year marks the 70th anniversary of the 1948 flood that destroyed the City of Vanport. The Portland Archives & Records Center’s new exhibit highlights Vanport’s construction, community, and destruction, using photos and documents from the City Archives. The exhibit showcases many records from the Housing Authority of Portland collection at the City Archives, including floor plans, and photos of the people living in Vanport.

Drop by our office at 1800 SW 6th Ave, Suite 550 to learn more about Vanport and its history.  If you can’t make it to our office, check out the photos of Vanport that are available through our online database Efiles.

If you are at City Hall you can find images of the flood in our exhibit case located on the 3rd floor outside of the Mayor’s office.

Archives Roadshow

The City Archives are going on the road! Well sort of.

Two of the City of Portland’s archivists visited the North Portland Branch of the Multnomah County LiPhoto of Lents Pharmacy at SE Foster and 92nd from 1932brary in January and will be heading out again to four different library branches through the end of 2018. We can’t bring the whole archives with us, but we are bringing copies of neighborhood photos, guides on how to do research in the archives including how to search our online database Efiles and our expertise on searching City records.

Bring your questions about archives, City records, or Portland history and we will show you how to do your own research. We’ll talk about the types of historical records in the City Archives and how to get access to them. Even if you don’t have a specific question, bring your curiosity!

Archives Roadshow schedule and locations:

Holgate Branch – Saturday, May 12th 3-4 PM

Midland Branch – Sunday, July 15th 2-3 PM

Gregory Heights Branch – Sunday, September 16th 3-4 PM

Kenton Branch – Saturday, November 3rd 4-5 PM

Learn more about the library locations here: https://multcolib.org/events/city-portland-archives-roadshow

We hope you’ll join us!

Our Story: Portland Through an African American Lens

Group of teenagers posing at Unthank ParkThe City of Portland Archives has partnered with the Multnomah County Library and other institutions in the Portland area to help create Our Story: Portland Through an African American Lens. Our Story is a celebration of Black life in Oregon. It is an online collection of images, documents, and interviews featuring people who make this community special.

The City of Portland has contributed 175 digital images and documents from its archival collections, including photos of community events, celebrations, neighborhood clean-ups, protest rallies, and elected officials, as well as newsletters, Council minutes, and other Izeal Campbell outside his home on N Russelldocuments that highlight African Americans in city governmental records. Other archives, special collections and heritage organizations in the Portland area have also donated materials to the digital collection, providing a diverse group of materials for researchers to explore.  The first phase of the collection will be available in May and focuses on Community Building.

Leading up to the release of this collection, the Library is hosting programs in libraries across Multnomah County to celebrate Black communities in Portland. Please follow this link for a summary of the project and a list of upcoming programs: Our Story: Portland Through an African American Lens.

The Our Story Kickoff Celebration will be Saturday, May 19th 2-4PM at the North Portland Library. Click the following link for more information: https://multcolib.org/events/our-story-kickoff-celebration/88003 

To learn more about historical City records related to African Americans check out our guide and the materials we have available online.

Dorothea Lensch- An Exhibit

Dorothea Lensch, Director of Recreation 1937 to 1973Lensch hiking in snow on mountain side

The Portland Archives & Records Center is pleased to announce a new exhibit focusing on Dorothea Lensch’s career as Director of Recreation for the City of Portland Parks Bureau.

Dorothea Lensch served at the Director of Recreation from 1937 to 1973.  As the first Director of Recreation, she revitalized the Parks Department by expanding existing programming and developing new programs that included the arts, dance, and other forms of play. During a time of economic, political, and social upheaval, as well substantial growth within the City of Portland, Lensch was a leader within the community by promoting her belief that recreation was central to a strong and healthy community.

Exhibiting at: PSU Academic & Student Recreation Center, 5th floor, outside Suite 550  (Portland Archives & Records Center)

On display November 28, 2017 - March 31, 2018

Neverbuilt: Portland

Model of potential Pioneer Courthouse Square

Exhibiting at:

Portland City Hall, first floor, September 1 – 30, 2017
PSU Academic & Student Recreation Center, first floor, October 1-December 3, 2017

The Neverbuilt: Portland exhibit is the result of a year-long collaborative effort between four archival repositories in the Portland area. The City of Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon Health and Science University, and Portland State University each contributed records from their collections that highlight projects, plans, and designs that never came to be part of Portland’s cityscape. The City of Portland Archives focused on the design competition for Pioneer Square, including the 4 unsuccessful designs; Multnomah County Archives presented records related to the Delta Dome; PSU’s Architecture, Engineering and Construction Archives offered up incomplete development plans and never-built structures; OHSU Historical Collections & Archives provided access to records related to various campus projects, grand visions, and alterations to designs.

The exhibit panels feature architectural drawings, historical photographs, designs, and development plans for projects that were once planned or envisioned, but never came to fruition. The rotating exhibit will visit several archival and public facilities in Portland, Oregon this summer. If you can’t make it in person, you can check out the City of Portland panels here.

Come and see what could have been.

Rendering of potential design.