About the Database
In honor of 150 years of Oregon statehood, we made public a new research resource, the Early Oregonians Database. It includes information from census, death, probate and other records to document the people who lived in Oregon before statehood.
Limits on available records and documentation led us to define the project to include people living in Oregon from 1800 to 1860. Although large populations of Native Americans lived in the Oregon Country before 1840, documentation of those individuals is scant and not readily available.
With over 103,000 entries, the database continues to grow as we review more data. If you have documentation you would like to contribute, please contact the Reference Unit.
The initial information for this project comes from the 1850 and 1860 federal censuses for Oregon. Volunteers and student interns reviewed the information and combined entries that appeared on both censuses. The 1850 census for Oregon Territory included what became Washington Territory in 1853. Individuals living in or born in that part of the Oregon Territory prior to 1853 were included in this database as Early Oregonians. As later census information became available online, staff searched for individuals who meet the Early Oregonian criteria and added additional information and individuals.
Various records from the Oregon State Archives such as probate records, death certificates and marriage records were also searched to identify individuals who appeared to meet the criteria. As additional features of the database become available, researchers will be able to view a list of associated records for individuals and request copies from the Archives.
Additional information in the profiles comes from numerous sources. The source field in some profiles includes references to secondary sources and publications. Family tree data from various websites is also noted.
We cannot review all online resources on our own. We welcome your recommendations of specific websites. Please send information to the Reference Unit.