Oregon Secretary of State

Early Oregonians Database Overview

​​​​​The Early Oregonians Database includes information from census, death, probate and other records to document the people who lived in Oregon before statehood.


The project includes people living in Oregon from 1800 to 1860. Although large populations of Native Am​ericans lived in the Oregon Country before 1840, documentation is scant and not readily available.

If you have documentation to contribute, please contact the Reference Unit.

Primary Sources

Information for this project comes from the 1850 and 1860 federal censuses for Oregon. Volunteers and interns reviewed 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 are included in the database as Early Oregonians. As later census information became available online, staff searched for individuals who meet the Early Oregonian criteria and added information and individuals.

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.

Secondary Sources

The source field in some profiles includes references to secondary sources and publications. Family tree data from websites is also noted.​

Early Oregonians FAQ


How can I search for Early Oregonians?

Name: Enter a first or last name. At least one character is required in a name field. The application can't search for middle names, so it's best to omit the middle name when searching. The database displays results as an exact match unless the wildcard character is used.

Once the search criteria are entered and you click search, the database displays the search results in a list. Clicking on the hyperlinked name takes you to the Person Profile, which represents all the information we have on this particular Early Oregonian. The Person Profile also lists additional information, such as associated records and federal census records, in their own tabs. State census records are displayed in the associated records tab. You can navigate between Person Profiles by clicking the “Next” and “Previous” links. There are page numbers at the top of the page, as the database will only display 20 results per page. Click on the numbered pages to navigate through the search results.

County: A location can be used in searching. At this time, only one county can be selected. The list includes current Oregon counties plus additional counties of Champoeg, Clark, Island, King, Lewis, Pacific, Pierce, Thurston, Tuality and Vancouver.

Date Range: A date range can be helpful when searching. The date range for Early Oregonians is 1700 – 1970. For example, if you want to find all Early Oregonians that lived in Marion County 1850 – 1880. If you are using the date range, the end date is not required. If left blank, the database will default to 1970.

Is there a wildcard? Yes. The wildcard character (*) can be used along with at least two other characters. For example, searching for Smith last name and Jo* for first name will return all the Smiths last name and contains Jo in the first name. The wildcard can be used on either last name or first name.

Are there special characters I can use in the search? Yes. There are three special characters. The apostrophe (‘), dash (-), and space ( ) can be used in searching. For example, O’Neal, A-Wi-Yw Lucy.


​​​​​How can I request records of Early Oregonians?

You can request records by contacting the Reference Desk using this form​.

How can I ask questions about the Early Oregonians?

Contact the Reference Desk at reference.archives@sos.oregon.gov

How many Early Oregonians were there?

There are approximately 103,083 ​Early Oregonians represented in the database.​

banner reads "Early Oregonian Search" with 3 black & white photos of pioneer persons in the background.​​​
Early Oregonians​
A Sesquicentennial project that attempts to document all individuals who lived in Oregon prior to statehood through 1860.

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Records Request

Contact the Reference Deck using this form >​