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The City of Portland, Oregon

Archives & Records Management

Office of the City Auditor

phone: 503-865-4100


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

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Making art out of history

View of two men standing over a miniature street intersection showing how two cars collidedThe Portland Archives & Records Center invites you to celebrate Archives Month with us by making art!  Archives Month happens every October and is a time to celebrate the work that archivists do and the historical collections they manage. 

What it is:

We’ve got the photos; you have the imagination. We want you to create something new out of something old, and we encourage you to have some fun with it.  There are 10 historical photos to work with and you can use as many of the images as you want into your art.

View of 4 men and 3 women in hard hats in a sewer tunnel smiling at the cameraHow it works:

Anyone can participate, including students. To start your artwork, you choose from 10 preselected photos from our historical collections (available in Efiles)  The work can be almost* anything - redaction poetry, GIFs, collages, coloring pages, creative writing, memes, or other creative interventions. Its art, so get creative! Each person can submit up to 3 works based on those pre-selected images.

A panel of local judges will select winners based on creativity and originality of the entry. Prizes will be awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd places for both adults and youth categories. There is also a People’s Choice award.

Go to the submission page for more details and a link to the pre-selected images.

View of piles of buidlign materials and workers with shovels.Timing

Contest Opens – Monday, September 16th (8 AM)

Contest Closes – Tuesday, October 15th (5PM)

Judging – Wednesday, October 16th to October, Wednesday October 30th

Results Announced – Thursday, October 31st


Special Thanks!

Thank you to the Virginia Caucus of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference for coming up with this idea and allowing us to take it and run our own contest!!


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90th Anniversary of Bull Run Storage Dam 1

This year marks the 90th anniversary of the completion of the Bull Run Storage Dam 1. The construction of the storage dam was just one phase of a project to expand capacity in the Bull Run Reserve. The project was set in motion to address the growing population in the Portland metro area. To this day, the City still relies heavily on the water supply stored behind Dam 1. The Portland Archives & Records Center’s new exhibit highlights the three-year construction project that ended in 1929, and includes photographs, drawings, maps and correspondence.

Drop by our office at 1800 SW 6th Ave, Suite 550 to view the exhibit. If you are at City Hall, you can find a supplemental display in our exhibit case located on the 1st floor. Exhibit materials are also available through our online database Efiles. See

Black & white photo showing construction of Dam 1

2018 Artists-in-Residence – Cleo Davis & Kayin Talton-Davis

Artists installing artworkIn early 2018, the Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC) selected the artist team of Cleo Davis and Kayin Talton-Davis for the 2018 City of Portland Archives year-long Artist-in-Residence. The artists have partnered with archivists to dive deep into the City’s archival records and have created the first of their work based on their research. The exhibit is up now through the Spring of 2019. Check back later for updates on the final work produced for this residency.

About the Archives Artist-in-Residence

This residency asks the artist to add a new dimension to the archives by applying their artistic lens to the historical records. It allows for a deep investigation into the role archives play within society and creates space for expression of an intellectual and emotional understanding of archives. artists hanging workThis is the third in a series of public art residencies funded by the City of Portland Percent for Art Program administered by RACC.

The Oregon Archives Crawl is Back!

Oregon Archives Crawl poster with time and dateJoin us Saturday, October 20th to explore Changing Attitudes. Archives document how communities, beliefs, practices, and preferences have changed over the years.  Historical records and photos can shed new light on common beliefs or explain how things have come to pass.  With more than 30 organizations participating, you are guaranteed to discover something new!

Start the Crawl at any of these locations: City of Portland Archives & Records Center, the Oregon Historical Society or the Multnomah County Library. At each site you’ll find representatives from archives, special collections, and heritage organizations. “Passports” are available at each site to help guide you and provide a list of organizations. From young, old, and in-between to vintage photo lover to history buff to scholar to student to genealogist to building researcher to those who are just curious to learn something new: everyone is welcome.

Saturday, October 20th

11:00 AM to 3:00 PM

Start at any of the following locations:

City of Portland Archives & Records Center,

the Oregon Historical Society or the Multnomah County Library

Free and open to the public

To find out which organizations will be participating this year, go to the event website:

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.