rior to 1946 no unified approach existed for preserving historical state records in Oregon. The Secretary of State had custody of the records of the Legislative Assembly and the Governor. All other departments and agencies cared for their own records. Some records of defunct agencies had been deposited with the Secretary of State or with the State Library, however many were presumably destroyed. The Oregon Historical Society in Portland held the Oregon provisional and territorial government records at the request of the Secretary of State because of a lack of suitable storage space in Salem. A large number of records documenting state government in the late 19th and early 20th centuries had disappeared over the years. Moreover, the fire that destroyed the state Capitol in 1935 consumed additional valuable records.
The State Library apparently first maintained state government primary documents in 1921 when it accepted 31 cubic feet into its holdings.1 Still, no active collection effort ensued until a conference of librarians and social scientists first asked the Oregon State Library in 1933 to collect primary government records related to social science research. However, deciding which records to keep permanently proved to be a continuing problem.