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Civil Defense in Portland 1936-1963

1954 Civil Defense Sign PostingBetween the first and second world wars, Portland responded to the potential threat of air strikes by developing a Civil Defense program. Volunteer firefighters were trained and citizens were taught a variety of survival methods from seeking shelter to sealing windows against gas attacks. In the post World War II era, the threat of nuclear warfare pushed the development of a Civil Defense infrastructure. Portland built a state of the art Civil Defense command center built underground at Kelly Butte in 1957 that was featured in a CBS documentary. Citizens were also engaged through evacuation exercises including the massive “Operation Green Light” which emptied roughly 1,000 downtown blocks and evacuated over 100,000 people in less than an hour.


1960 Civil Defense exhibitTo learn more about the Portland’s Civil Defense efforts and see some of the photos, documents and plans, check out our online exhibit or drop by to see the exhibit located in our front case. If you are interested in doing more research or curious about a certain aspect, check out Efiles or stop by during Open Research Hours to dig deeper into the history of Portland’s Civil Defense.

October 29, 2010Comments (0)Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)

First Annual Oregon Archives Crawl a Success!

Thanks to everyone who helped us get the word out about the first annual Oregon Archives Crawl and to those who “crawled” between each location.  We were thrilled with the steady stream of visitors coming through our door, many of whom had never been to our facility or to any archive. 


Here are a few pictures from the day. Enjoy!


Getting up close and personal with the historic exhibit

Exhibit at the Oregon Archives Crawl


Perusing the preservation display

Preservation display Oregon Archives Crawl


Putting history together piece by piece

Oregon Archives Crawl


Touring the closed stacks

Touring the closed stacks


And of course getting the Oregon Archives Crawl passport stamped

Oregon Archives Crawl passport stamping


Thanks to our wonderful presenters who gave real life examples of how they use archives!


Tanya March talked about the many different topics she has researched here including the work she did in preparation for the Re-Building South Portland exhibit opening this Friday, 10/8 at the Architectural Heritage Center.

Tanya March presenting


Joanne Oleksiak discussed her research regarding the Albina Mural project and provided a preview of the upcoming exhibit Walls of Heritage, Walls of Pride: African American Murals at the Oregon Historical Society opening November 16th.

Joanne Oleksiak


October 7, 2010Comments (0)Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)

How do you use Archives?

PARCThis Saturday, October 2nd, marks the first annual Oregon Archives Crawl.  The City of Portland Archives and Records Center (PARC) is one of the four archives sites you can visit between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. (Portland State University Library, Multnomah County Library Central Branch and the Oregon Historical Society are the other three).  Additionally, there will be representatives from 20 other institutions participating - see the list below to see who will be there.


Drop by PARC for tours, a chance to look at some historical records, and in general, check out what the Portland Archives has to offer!  Some additional activities:


At 12:00 noon Tanya March will discuss how she used appraisal records, scrap books, historic maps, Polk Directories and other resources found at the Archives to help pull together the exhibit materials for a new exhibit at the Architectural Heritage Centerand to expand her research on the Guilds Lake development during the 1930s and 40s. Bring your questions about doing a neighborhood history and how to incorporate archival records.


Throughout the day, Joanne Oleksiak will talk about her research on the 1977 Albina Mural project and what she learned at the Archives while preparing for the local component of a national exhibit on African American murals. The exhibit entitled Walls of Heritage, Walls of Pride will open at the Oregon Historical Society in November.


Please note that Saturday and the Archives Crawl is for celebrating and not for research! The Archives staff will be busy giving tours and showing off some of the historical collections and won't be able to accommodate research requests. If you'd like to do some research, we invite you to visit us during our normally scheduled Research Room hours.


List of participating organizations:

See you on Saturday!

September 30, 2010Comments (2)Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)

Oregon Archives Crawl - Join us on October 2nd

I know you haven't heard from us in quite awhile. We have been busy in the Research Room and planning for our Oregon Archives Month event which we hope you will attend (details below).


You’ve heard of Pub Crawls, but have you ever heard of an Archives Crawl?

Neither had we, so we created one!Oregon Archives Crawl poster

Everyone is invited to join us for the first annual Oregon Archives Crawl this October in celebration of Oregon Archives Month.  Walk, bike, run, or crawl between four different downtown locations and learn what local archives have to offer researchers, students, genealogists, scholars, homeowners, history buffs, and the curious of any age. We have something for everyone, old and young, native Oregonian and visitor passing through, professional and novice.

Travel at your leisure between the Portland Archives and Records Center, the Portland State University Library, Multnomah County Central Library and the Oregon Historical Society.  At each place you can tour the facilities and participate in activities that bring history to life. The Oregon Historical Society and the Multnomah County Central Library will also be hosting displays by other area archives including the Oregon Jewish Museum, Willamette University, Oregon State Archives, Lewis & Clark College, the Oregon State University, the Mazamas and the Washington County Museum. Each location and participating organization will have family friendly activities throughout the day.

A free Archives Crawl “passport” will be issued to help you navigate the crawl. A fully stamped passport enters you in a raffle drawing at our After Party at the Oregon Historical Society, where there will be light refreshments, live music and a whole lot of fun.

Join us for the first annual Oregon Archives Crawl and become a part of history!

First Annual Oregon Archives Crawl
Saturday, October 2
11:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Free and Open to the Public
Starting at any of the following locations: Portland Archives &
Records Center, Portland State University Millar Library, Multnomah
County Central Library or the Oregon Historical Society.

The After Party hosted by the Oregon Historical Society
Saturday, October 2

4:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Free and Open to the Public
Enjoy fun, music, and raffle prizes!

For more information, including a complete list of participating organizations: http://pdxarchivists.wordpress.com/

September 1, 2010Comments (0)Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)

Becoming Part of the City's History

At our recent Grand (Re) Opening we created a display of various materials including photos, maps, and arrest dockets from the late 1800s. We also included a few artifacts some of which were gifts to elected officials over the years. We have a favorite piece made by a student and given to Mayor Bud Clark. It is a ceramic statue of Bud Clark in the Expose Yourself to Art pose made famous in the poster. The statue captures the playfullness of the poster and exemplifies why bud Clark was on the city's favorite mayors. (Come in and learn more about the Expose Yourself to Art poster)


Expose Yourself to Art


We didn't know this object’s origins, except that a student named Kelly Hopper from Markham Middle School had made it and gave it to Mayor Bud Clark in 1985. This unique gift became a part of the archives and has been displayed on many occasions. This particular artifact is a great example of how the city’s history and its citizens intertwine.


At our Grand (Re) Opening the artifact and its origins reunited.  Kelly Hopper’s art teacher from Markham Middle School, Emily Young, recognized the piece and told us the story behind its creation. She had given her students an assignment to create a 3D ceramic object based on inspirations found in the classroom. Young had the Expose Yourself to Art poster hanging in her classroom from which Kelly took her cue, creating her own version of Bud Clark. Young talked about how excited she was when she and Kelly went to City Hall to present the figure to the Mayor.  She had fond memories of that experience and was very pleased to see that the piece was still around.


Emily Young with ceramic piece


It doesn’t happen very often but sometimes we get lucky and can fill in a missing piece of the story.  Thanks to Emily Young for her contribution to the city’s history!

June 10, 2010Comments (0)Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)

Raffle Winners

Raffle Prizes


Thanks to everyone who dropped their name in the hat (or rather an acid free box) to enter into the historic picture raffle at our Grand (Re) Opening. We had over 130 people enter the raffle.


And the winners are…

Kristin C

Donah B

Amber L

Todd D

Andrew W

Stanley C

Linda R

Emma C


Each winner has been notified


If you missed out on the raffle, you can access historical photos from the City collection via our online database Efiles (http://efiles.portlandoregon.gov). Several of the raffle prize images are available as PDFs in Efiles - download and print your own.


A2004-002.3564 : View of central Portland and east Portland


(click on the magnifying glass to view the picture)


A2005-001.865 : SW 4th Ave looking north toward Yamhill St


(click on the magnifying glass to view the picture)


A2005-001.318 : N Interstate Ave and Albina Ave


(click on the magnifying glass to view the picture)


Thanks to everyone who entered our raffle and stopped by during our Grand (Re) Opening. We hope you come back to visit during our open research hours.

June 2, 2010Comments (0)Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)

Our Grand (Re) Opening

Thanks to everyone that stopped by our Grand (Re) Opening last Tuesday. We were thrilled with the turn out – over 200 people showed up to watch the ribbon cutting, look at the displays, tour through the closed stacks and of course eat cake. As usual, I think the story is best told visually through photos from the event. 


Portland Archives & Records Center Grand Re-Opening

Commissioner Randy Leonard and Auditor Lavonne Griffin-Valade listen to City Archivist Diana Banning as she makes her opening remarks.


Portland Archives & Records Center Grand Re-Opening

PSU’s Lindsey Desrochers, Vice President of Finance, spoke about the partnership between the City of Portland and Portland State University.


Portland Archives & Records Center Grand Re-Opening

Commissioner Leonard made a donation of fire bureau related documents to the City of Portland Archives.


PARC ribbon cutting

Auditor Griffin-Valade and City Archivist Banning use “golden” scissors to cut the ribbon - officially re-opening the City of Portland Archives & Records Center.


PARC Grand Re-Opening

Displays from the historical collection included police dockets from the 1890s and 1900s, photographs and maps from the construction of Bull Run dam, industrial maps of Portland, and original city ordinances and documents from 1851.


PARC Grand Re-Opening

People reviewing the neighborhood notebooks consisting of pictures from various areas of Portland.


Touring the closed stacks

A group touring the closed stacks.


If you weren’t able to stop by for the (re) opening, we hope you can stop by during our open research hours.

May 24, 2010Comments (0)Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)

Grand (Re) Opening Celebration

You are invited to stop by for our Grand (Re) Opening on Tuesday, May 18th from 12noon to 4 PM! We are so excited to be finally finished with our move and settled into our new digs in the Academic & Student Recreation Center building on the PSU campus. Join us for cake, ribbon cutting and tours of the closed stacks. We will also be raffling off framed photos from the City’s collection every hour. Portland Archives & Records Center


Our new location is easily accessible for all kinds of researchers from students to city employees to citizens interested in Portland’s distant and recent history. Both the yellow and green MAX lines as well as numerous bus lines will drop you off right next to our building.  We are located on the 5th floor and are currently open for research during designated Open Research Hours.

(Please note that we will be closed for research on the morning of May 18th to set up for the event.)


To learn more about to see where we came from and our history, check out our exhibit “Portland’s Documentary Legacy” from our most recent Open House last fall. Help us celebrate the beginning of the next phase.


See you on Tuesday, May 18th!


May 11, 2010Comments (0)Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)

May 3rd is here!

Today we officially re-opened our doors after being closed for 5 months while we moved. We are thrilled to be in our new space and are looking forward to sharing it with everyone.


It has been a very busy 5 months.  In December we closed our doors to the public to move to our new location on the PSU campus.  In that time we have completed 2 inventories (one pre and one post – including relabeling all of the boxes), built the new shelving (dismantled in one location and re-built in the new location), moved roughly 30,000 cubic square foot of boxes, ledgers, maps, and other materials and settled the staff into the new facility.  It has been a long process but I think you’ll agree that the wait was worth it. We now have room to grow and a wonderful new Research Room to share with the public and city employees.


To visit the Research Room drop by during our open research hours (first come, first served). We are now located at 1800 SW 6th Avenue, Suite #550.


Monday, Tuesday & Friday                               Wednesday & Thursday

9:00 AM to 1:00 PM                                         12:00 AM to 4:00 PM


To learn more about what you will find when you come in take a few minutes to read through this document. And as always you search our online database at any time (www.portlandoregon.gov/efiles).

May 3, 2010Comments (0)Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)

ASRC Building Grand Opening

Last Thursday, the PSU Academic and Student Recreation Center (ASRC) had its grand opening.  The City of Portland Archives & Records Center is now located on the 5th floor of the new ASRC building. City Auditor LaVonne Griffin-Valade and Commissioner Randy Leonard were present with PSU officials to formally “open” the building.


LaVonne Griffin-Valade speaking at ARSC opening ceremonies


We had a table set up in the plaza with the other tenants in the building (and we were fortunate enough to be out there on the one sunny day of the week).  Thanks to everyone who stopped by to say hello.  We hope to see even more people at our Grand Opening set for Tuesday, May 18th.


ARSC Opening Ceremonies


Read more about the event on Commissioner Leonard’s blog:


April 6, 2010Comments (0)Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)

Move Update...

We are almost done with the move to our new location on the Portland State University (PSU) campus.  All of the records and materials have made the journey and now we are doing inventory and re-labeling each box with its new location. We are on target for our re-opening in May (if all goes as planned).  We will be keeping our website up to date so check it out if you have any questions (http://www.portlandonline.com/auditor/archives).


We can’t wait to re-open and share this amazing new space with everyone.  Until then, below are some photos of the final stages of the move.


The last cart of boxes – cart 1195…

Last box cart of the move


How different the space looks when the boxes and shelves are gone…

Empty space in the basement


The last box moved to the new location…

Last move moved and put on shelf in new space

April 5, 2010Comments (0)Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)

What Exactly is an Ordinance?

Ordinances are one of the ways the City does its business.  The official definition is as follows (to learn more about how Council works click here):


Ordinances are formal documents which carry the binding force of law and are passed by the Council in accordance with rules set forth in the City Charter.  Two kinds of Ordinances, emergency and non-emergency, appear on the Agenda.  Emergency Ordinances, designated in the Agenda by an asterisk preceding the agenda number, require a unanimous vote with at least four Council members present to vote.  Non-emergency ordinances come before Council twice and go into effect 30 days after passage by Council.  Public testimony is generally taken only at the first reading and the vote is taken at the second reading.   Only three votes are needed for approval.


Ordinances are also a great way to learn about how the City government functions (what exactly is the city’s business) and the City and its citizen’s priorities over time.  I see ordinances as some of the building blocks of our City; some are sweeping in their scope while most are small but important steps.


In terms of sweeping change check out Ordinance 7263 that changed street names after the 1892 consolidation or Ordinance 61325 which set up the current grid and numbering system and changed street names (for more information about the current grid and number system you can view or download this report – more on reports later). Regarding structural change of a different kind see Ordinance 17410 that authorized the hiring of the first female police officer.


For important smaller steps from the late 1800's check out Ordinance 310 which provided for the location of shade and ornamental trees in the streets of City of Portland and Ordinance 404 that authorized the purchase of a steam fire engine for use of Protection Engine Co. No. 4.


Many ordinances have been scanned are available to read and download from our online database like this one about accepting a land grant to increase the area of Forest Park (Ordinance 146520 - click on the magnifying glass icon to view the file).  To search for other ordinances go to Efiles.

March 19, 2010Comments (0)Post a Comment

Where East Burnside, Sandy and 12th Intersect

With the East Burnside - Couch Couplet nearing completion, I thought I would look back to see how the intersection may have changed overtime. There hasn’t been anything as far-reaching as creating the couplet, but based on this 1958 aerial photo it has been on the radar as an intersection to watch (the picture caption reads “Aerial photo of the #1 accident intersection. E. Burnside St. & Sandy Blvd. looking Southwest”)


Intersection at E Burnside, Sandy & 12th in 1958


This intersection was documented in 1939,


Intersection at E Burnside, Sandy & 12th in 1939


and in 1948


Intersection at E Burnside, Sandy & 12th in 1948


“Illuminated directional signs” were added in 1953


Intersection at E Burnside, Sandy & 12th in 1953


The signals were remodeled in 1963...


Intersection at E Burnside, Sandy & 12th in 1963


and the 1965 photo looks much like they do today.


Intersection at E Burnside, Sandy & 12th in 1965


I’ll be curious to see how this new couplet is looked back on in 50 years.


March 16, 2010Comments (0)Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)

Our History and Our Future

I think a great time to look back is when we are looking forward at the relatively unknown. As we pack up and clean out our current office and stacks, I think about the history of the building; from incinerator where they burned old records and papers to the Portland Archives and Records Center where we preserve and store old and new records. To learn more about our history, check out our exhibit “Portland’s Documentary Legacy” from our most recent Open House last fall.


Since 1981, we have been working with City bureaus, students, professional researchers and the general public to provide access to city records. In that time there have been a number of books published from the research done with these records including Jewel Lansing’s Portland: People, Politics and Power; Marie Rose Wong’s Sweet Cakes, Long Journey and Peter Boag’s Same-Sex Affairs: Constructing and Controlling Homosexuality in the Pacific Northwest.


We are proud of our history and are looking forward to the next phase in the life of the City of Portland Archives and Records Center at our new location on the PSU campus. We’ll see you in May 2010 when we reopen!

March 15, 2010Comments (0)Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)

Revamping the Archives & Records Management Division Website

In addition to our move to a new facility, we have also reworked our website to hopefully make it easier to navigate and more user-friendly for both city employees and the general public. The “I want to” section should help you find specific information; from doing online research of city records to finding out where you can get a copy of your birth certificate (vital records are held with the state). 


We have also included a slideshow of images on the homepage from the City collection ranging in years from 1883 to 1974. We chose these pictures to demonstrate the type of images and subject matter that make up most of the collection; from road construction and aerials of the city to elected officials and park scenes. There are many images available to view and/or download from Efiles and we are adding more all the time.


The addition of this blog (the NEWS section) is part of our efforts to keep everyone more informed regarding what is going on at the City of Portland Archives & Records Center from move updates, to newly accessible records to event announcements. In conjunction with our blog we have started a Twitter feed (@pdxarchives) to broaden our communication efforts.


We still have a few updates and changes to make to the site, but those will happen over the course of the next few months. We are interested in your feedback on the website and the blog and any suggestions about you have for future posts. Please post a comment or send an email to sparc@portlandoregon.gov.

March 10, 2010Comments (0)Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)

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