elcome to the 50th anniversary exhibit of the Oregon State Archives. The State Archives preserves and provides access to the permanently valuable records of all three branches of state government- legislative, executive, and judicial. The oldest record in the Archives is the agreement establishing the Willamette Cattle Company, which dates back to 1837. Frequently used records at the Archives include minutes and exhibits of legislative committee hearings and nineteenth century county records such as probate case files, marriage certificates, and naturalization petitions.
Although an archives for Oregon government can be traced to Lafayette Grover, who as Commissioner of the Public Archives published Oregon Archives in 1853, the Secretary of State has traditionally been designated custodian of public records. However, the investigations of the Committee on the Conservation of Cultural Resources in 1943 brought out the fact that no one had identified the essential records of government in Oregon and that storage conditions for the bulk of public records were poor. Recommendations this Committee made to the Governor resulted in the establishment of the Oregon State Archives. It was first funded in 1945 and the statutory responsibilities of the State Archivist were defined by the Legislature in 1947.
The Archives was originally established as part of the State Library. In 1971, the Legislative Assembly placed the Archives with the Secretary of State. Part of the reason for this was the growing records management responsibility of the State Archivist. The Archives Division now has three main responsibilities. It manages the State Archives, serves as records manager for Oregon government, and publishes the state's Administrative Rules.
When records are selected for permanent retention in the State Archives, archivists consider whether the records have legal value, whether they document key functions of government, and whether the information they contain is useful for research.
We hope you enjoy this 50th anniversary exhibit featuring highlights of the records of the State Archives. We encourage you to visit again.