Monday, September 9, 2013

Using Local Records and Indexes

This past week my research took me to the Multnomah County Library to use the Oregon Vital Records Divorce Index. Before going, online research was done in the Oregon Marriage Indexes 1906-1924 and 1946-2008 at It does seem odd that twenty-two years of marriages are missing in the index, but the index did cover the years of interest in the research. There are other indexes by counties that might provide the missing years information.

The library copy of the Divorce Index is by husband for the years 1961-2008 and they are on microfiche. A similar index is available at the Genealogical Forum of Oregon, on microfilm for the years 1946-1955, 1956-1960 and 1966-1970 and on microfiche for the years 1971-1989. So by using indexes from both of the resources one can cover the years from 1946-2008. By calling prior to making the trip I was able to confirm that they still had the index and exactly where in this very large library they were located.

They were on the third floor right next to a nice reader/copier with a printer right next to them. In about twenty minutes I was able to check for the information being sought and made six copies. Copies were $.20 and I had to go from the third floor to the second floor to pay for them. It is really a matter of honor in making the payment as there is no way for them to know whether or not payment was made.

It was a fun trip to a library that is a historic place in the city of Portland. It has one of the largest circulations in the country. Last year they had 850,000 patrons visit the library and 1.5 million items checked out or renewed. Even though we live in Clackamas County there is an agreement between the counties for patron usage and one only needs to request a Multnomah County Library Card to have access to their system and the great online connections available.

On September 7, 2013 they celebrated the 100 year anniversary of the building. It truly is a wonderful asset to the community. Like any public facility one should check about the hours they are open before going to visit. Just before going I checked the address and noticed in doing so they have different hours on Wednesday and did not open until noon. It just so happened, it was already noon and so the timing worked out perfectly. Parking can be a challenge, but my son provided a great service of dropping me off and then returning to pick me up after a stop at VooDoo Donuts. If you have never been to VooDoo Donuts be sure to check them out. This was the first time I had tried one and they are amazing.

Sometimes we stumble upon some amazing things in the process of genealogy research. Local records and indexes may be found in some very unexpected places and sometimes a combination of places are required to complete the work being done. Not everything can be found online, but by searching online we may find repositories that can assist in the process.

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