Access Historic Newspapers Online – Free!

I love researching in historic newspapers. Being able to read the news that was occurring where and when my ancestors lived is incredible. You can get a feel for what was important  to them, prices for goods they may have purchased, weather conditions, disasters, crop successes and failures, and of course, the genealogy information printed in the newspapers.

Each state has one state newspaper archive and in Oregon it is the University of Oregon. There you will find microfilm and digital images of Oregon newspapers. It is a wonderful resource for genealogists. You have to check out their website at

The Oregon Digital Newspaper Program (ODNP) is digitizing historic newspapers and making them available online for free. They are concentrating on newspapers published from 1860 to 1922 during the first phase which started in 2009. There are more than 180,000 pages available at this writing. You can read more about the ODNP at

The Oregon Newspaper Project: Oregon Newspapers on Microfilm, by County is a list of newspapers organized by county. The list is being cataloged and the online list does not include all newspapers. You can contact them by phone or email to see if a newspaper you are searching for is in their collection. Microfilm may be viewed at the UO Knight Library on the Eugene campus, or requested through interlibrary loan for viewing at your local library. Details are available at

Here is an example of the microfilm listing for the Daily Astorian.

Astoria. DAILY ASTORIAN (-1883). OCLC: 35655683. Daily (except Mon). Reels: 12 covering 4/30/1874-12/29/1883. Continued by DAILY MORNING ASTORIAN (1883-1899) Related to WEEKLY ASTORIAN (-)

You can read it as:  City. TITLE (Starting Year-Ending Year). OCLC: number. Frequency by Publisher. Reels: Quantity covering Dates. Related TITLES. (OCLC is a worldwide library cooperative and the UO is a member and uses their numbering system.)

The UO also has the Oregon Newspaper Index which is currently home to The Portland Oregonian index of 839,000+ records covering 1859 – 1987,  30,000+ records for The Register-Guard for 1963 – 2004, and the Oregon Daily Emerald, 1900 – 1979, with 102,000+ records.  Check out these indexes at

The Library of Congress has digitized newspapers from 1836 – 1922 online at There are 4,674,487 images available. I found 17 newspapers with digital images listed for Oregon. The oldest newspaper listed was The New Northwest, published in Portland from 1871 – 1887. You can also find a list of newspapers, by title, for the United States, 1690 – present, at There are currently 140,115 titles. A search for newspapers in Oregon returned 1,400 results, the earliest date I found (in a quick search) was 1846. You will not find all of these newspapers at the Library of Congress, but you will find information on how to access the them.

Even thought they have discontinued adding newspapers , Google still has the historic newspapers available at You will find an alphabetical list of newspapers and the years they have available. They have 1,379 issues of the Heppner Gazette-Times, beginning with Volume 46, Number 42 published on January 2, 1930 through the April 15, 2009 issue.

Take a few minutes to check out these websites and see what genealogy clues might be hiding just a few keystrokes away.

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Early Oregonians Database

Anyone researching in Oregon should familiarize themselves with the Early Oregonians Database at the Oregon state Archives. As part of the Oregon Public Records Database, the Early Oregonians search was a sesquicentennial project  for persons living in Oregon before statehood and through 1860. As of this writing the database lists approximately 105,500 people and they update the data quarterly. The data was compiled by volunteers and student interns and must have taken considerable time to put together for our benefit.

The Oregon State Archives used both primary and secondary sources when comprising the database. Primary sources included census records and marriage, death and probate records at the Archives.  Secondary sources were also used including family tree data from various websites.

The Early Oregonian Search allows you to search using last name, first name, gender, date range and county. The advanced search allows  you to include an alternate name, and name of mother, father or spouses. Be sure to read the FAQ for tips on how to search for tips. For example you can search using just a first or last name but you can’t include a middle name.

Oregon counties include the historic Champoeg, Tuality, and Umpqua counties in addition to the current 36 counties. You can also search by Clark, Island, King, Lewis, Pacific, Pierce, Thurston, and Vancouver counties as this area was in the Oregon Territory before 1853 when it became part of the Washington Territory.

Search results appear in alphabetical order and are limited to 200 entries with twenty appearing on each page.  I did a test and found they have 126 entries for John Smith. The results page has five columns with headings for name, date & place of birth, father, mother, and date & place of death.

Clicking on a name in the results takes you to a Person Profile page. I chose John Smith, born 1 May 1815 in Mercer Co., KY. The results page only listed his date and place of birth and death, but the Person Profile page gave additional information for occupation, place of burial, and two spouses. The source for the information was shown as “wc.”

There are tabs for Associated Records,  Associated Persons, and Census Events. This John Smith did not have any associated records, had his spouses listed as associated persons, and census events showed him living in Marion County in 1850 and 35 years of age.

Digging further into the results list I found a John Burris Smith, born 14 Feb 1816 in Madison Co., KY, who died 6 Feb 1901 in Myrtle Creek, Douglas Co., OR. His profile gives the names of his father, mother, and spouse, and date and place of marriage. Associated records show a donation land claim in Polk Co., OR. Associated persons are his parents and spouse, Emily Thorp, who has a link to her own profile page. Census events show him in Polk Co., OR in 1850 and 1860. The sources for this information are given as “pcp 141; wc; odlc; findagrave.”

I wasn’t able to find a list indicating what the reference codes stand for on the Oregon State Archives website so I emailed asking if there was something online that I could look up their sources but haven’t heard back just yet. When I do I’ll post an update for you. In the meantime, check it out and see what you can find on your Oregon ancestors.

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Oregon State Archives – Military Records

In the previous post (The Weekly Oregonian, Saturday, January 24, 1857) I included several bits of news that I will expand on and add resources which you may want to check to look for additional information.

First up is the announcement for submitting Indian War claims.

2d Notice.
Persons having Claims against the Territory of Oregon, growing out of the existing Indian War, that have not been duly vouched for by the proper officer of any of the departments of the military organization of said Territory, and certificates or other proper vouchers given, are requested to present the same before the Commissioner at the Seat of Government of Oregon Territory, who will there open an office on the 1st day of January, 1857, to audit and adjust all such claims as may be presented that belong properly to his official jurisdiction.
                                                                        Philo Callender, Commissioner of War Claims

Let’s say I have an ancestor that was living in Oregon during this time period (I don’t) and I want to know if my ancestor filed a claim, where would I look for information?

My first stop was the Oregon State Archives to see if they held any records for these claims. Selecting Archival Records, then Genealogy, I found a category for Military Records under the heading “Topical Research Aids.” This  provides a brief overview of the categories of records available and a Series Listing.  I found two items referencing Indian War claims that fit the 1856-7 time period. Since they did not have links to further information I decided to look at the Oregon Military Department Records Guide, 1847-1986. Here I found a link for Record series descriptions. Bingo! Here were links which led me to a description of what was in the records.

The Cayuse and Rogue River Indian War Claims Records are part of Accession Number 89A-012. You can read more about this record group under the Scope and Content Note link.   

Cayuse Indian War Claim Records, 1847-1858
Boxes 45-47 contain 2.5 cubic feet of records filed in chronological order by date. Claims for services, supplies, or destroyed property were submitted to the Provisional government or Territorial government. The website describes the contents as “Records include receipts, affidavits, account statements, orders, and certificates of work performed. Series also includes the final determinations of the Cayuse War Claims Commission.”

Rogue River Indian War Claim Records, 1853-1859
These records are filed alphabetically by the claimants surname. Box 53 contains .25 cubic feet of claims filed with the Territorial Government and similar to the Cayuse claims included “receipts, vouchers, account statements, claims, service certificates, affidavits, suspended claims lists, and correspondence.”

To learn more about accessing the records you would need to contact the State Archives, 800 Summer St NE, Salem, OR 97310-1349, (503) 373-0701. The archives is open 8:00 am – 5:00 pm, M-F.

Additional records in the State Archives on these Indian Wars:
Cayuse Indian War Bonds, 1847-1850
Rogue River Indian War Enlistment Rosters, 1854-1858
Rogue River Indian War Maps, 1855-1856
Rogue River Indian War Supply Records, 1853-1857

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The Weekly Oregonian, Saturday, January 24, 1857

Items of genealogical interest found in The Weekly Oregonian, Saturday, January 24, 1857, Vol. VII, No. 9.

Page 1, column 2
Proceedings of the Oregon Legislature:  House, Thursday, Jan. 8th
Mr. Cochran presented a petition from citizens of Lane and Umpqua counties asking that township 21 south, range 4 west, in Umpqua county, be attached to Lane County.

Page 2, column 7
Mr. Lyman Gillallard and Miss Sarah Willis, a young couple who were returning from a New Year’s ball at Roseburg, Douglas county, on the 2d inst, were both drowned in attempting to cross Looking Glass creek about eight miles from Roseburg, by reason of their hosses [sic] getting frightened on the ferry boat.

Rev. J . H. Wilbur with his family, has been in this city the last few days waiting the arrival of the steamer, so to proceed on a visit to the States. Mr. Wilbur is an old pioneer in Oregon, and we can not but wish him a safe and pleasant trip.

In Trinity Church Portland, on the 18th  January, by the Rev John Sellwood D. D. Mr. C H Lewis, (of the firm of Allen & Lewis of this city,) and Miss Clementine F. , second daughter of Capt. John H Couch, all of Portland.

In Polk county, Dec. 25 1856, by Isaac Staate, J.P., Mr. George W Adams and Mrs. Elizabeth Burnet.

In Linn county, on Thursday Jan 1st, 1857, by Elder John Stipp, Elder James Bassett and Miss Martha Elizabeth Turnidge both of Linn county

At the residence of Rev. W. S. Parsons on the 28th ult, by Rev. J. F. Devore, Louis D Barnard to Miss Mary A. Parsons, both of Thurston county, W. T.

At the residence of the bride’s father, near Jacksonville, Dec. 14th, by Rev John Flinn, R. F. Maury, Esq, of the firm of Maury & Davis, Jacksonville, to Miss Elizabeth Chambers.

In this city, January 22d, 1857 Justin Millard, M. D., in the 51st year of his age. [The funeral of Dr. M. will take place at 1 o’clock P.M. on to-morrow (Sabbath), at the residence of his family. The friends of the deceased are respectfully invited to attend. ] [brackets were as printed in the paper]

NOTICE – All the members of the Masonic Fraternity, in good standing, are invited to meet at Masonic Hall, in this city, at 12 o’clock on Sunday, 25th inst., to pay the last and funeral rites to our deceased Brother Dr. Justin Millard. T.J. Holmes, W. M. of Willamette Lodge No 2, A. F. & A. M.

At the residence of S. D. Rhinehart, Tom Water, Thurston county, W. T. on Sunday, Jan. 4 of inflammation of the bowels, Mr. Isaac M. Brown, formerly from Indiana, aged 29 years.

Dec 31st, in Marion county, Pierce Jackson, son of P J and Sarah A Pefly aged six months and thirteen days.

Page 3, col. 1
NOTICE.—The Judges of the Supreme Court of the Territory of Oregon, assembled at the Seat of Government on the 16th day of December, 1856, do fix and appoint the District Courts to be held in the city of Salem, in the county of Marion, on the first Mondays of April and September, and the fourth Mondays of May and October, annually, until otherwise ordered; and in the city of Portland, in the county of Multnomah, on the fifth Monday of December, 1856, and thereafter on the first Mondays of May and October, and the third Mondays of June and November, annually until otherwise ordered, and do limit the duration of said Terms to six days each.
                                                                        GEO. H. WILLIAMS, Chief Justice.
                                                                        CYRUS OLNEY, Associate Justice.

Attachment Notice.
To A. STURM: In the name of the United States of America, you are required to appear in the District Court of the County of Multnomah, in the Territory of Oregon, on the first day of the next term, and answer the complaint of C. M. Wilborg, or the plaintiff will take judgement against you for the sum of two hundred and ninety-one dollars and sixty-six cents, together with interest and costs of suit.
Witness the seal of said court, affixed on the third day of October, 1856.
                                                                        JAS. W. DAVIS, Clerk
It appearing that to the court that the defendant canot be found, it is ordered that the plaintiff publish notice of the pondeney of the suit as in case of non-resident defendants.
                                                                        P. MARQUAM, Att’y for Pltf.
The above is a true copy of the summons and transcript of the order of the court, made at the December term, 1856. Certified by me, this 22d day of January, 1857.
                                                                        JAS. W. DAVIS, Clerk

Divorce Notice.
Rhody A. McArdie, Complainant. vs. Alfred M. McArdie, Defendant.
The Defendant will take notice that complainant has filed her petition in the District Court of the Second Judicial District of the Territory of Oregon against him for a divorce; that the said case will be heard at the May term of said court, where he can contest the same.

                                                                        P. MARQUAM, Solicitor for the Compl’t.
Portland, O. T., Jan. 22d, 1857.

Page 3, col. 3
Public Auction
By order of the Hon. Probate Court of Yamhill county, notice is hereby given that the Real Estate of Vincent Snelling, deceased, will be sold at Public Auction on the 30th day of January, 1857, between the hours of 10 and 3 o’clock.
The real estate consists of three hundred acres of land, more or less—about two hundred acres of level prairie land, embracing the principal part of the cultivated farm of the deceased. It is situated in T 4, S. R. 4, W., Sections 15 and 22.
All persons wishing to purchase would do well to come and look at the land, on the 30th inst.                                                                  B. F. Snelling, Admr.

Assignees Notice.
Notice is hereby given, that the undersigned have this day been duly constituted, by deed of assignment and for the trust therein specified, assignees of all and singular the real and personal estate of Daniel H. Lownsdale, of Portland, Oregon; and that we have taken possession of all and singular the real and personal estate of said Lownsdale, for the speedy accomplishment of our trust, powers, and duties.
Creditors of said Lownsdale will present their claims to us, and all those indebted in any manner to said Lownsdale, are required to make immediate payment to the undersigned.
                                                                        Charles M. Carter,
                                                                        Joseph S. Smith,
Assignees of Daniel H. Lownsdale.
Portland, Oregon, Sept. 12, 1856.

Page 4, Col. 2
2d Notice.
Persons having Claims against the Territory of Oregon, growing out of the existing Indian War, that have not been duly vouched for by the proper officer of any of the departments of the military organization of said Territory, and certificates or other proper vouchers given, are requested to present the same before the Commissioner at the Seat of Government of Oregon Territory, who will there open an office on the 1st day of January, 1857, to audit and adjust all such claims as may be presented that belong properly to his official jurisdiction.
                                                                        Philo Callender, Commissioner of War Claims

Information Wanted
Of the whereabouts of a young man by the name of Seaman De Milt, formerly from New York city. Mr. De Milt came to Oregon some time last summer, joined bark Mary Melville, and then left Milwaukie for Jacksonville, since which time he has not been heard from.
Mr. De Milt was about 28 years of age, weighed about 130 pounds, dark hair and light complexion, and some 5feet 3 inches in hight. [sic]
Any information will be thankfully received, by letter or otherwise directed to Ralph P. Meade, Pursur steamship Columbia, Portland, O. T.

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This Week in Oregon History

We had a light dusting of snow in Eugene today with the promise (or threat) of more to come Monday night so it was interesting to read an apology in The Guard, published in Eugene City, on Saturday, January 18, 1868 for having to miss their regular issue the previous week due to extreme cold. That was 144 years ago this week. First there were floods, then it froze, and then snow. They reported 16″ of snow and  “every horse, cayuse, mule, sleigh, cutter, jumper, sled, pung, go-divil, and nondescript in town has been brought into requisition, and a right merry time the sleighing parties are having!”

What, you might be wondering, is a cayuse, or pung, or go-divil? I did some digging and found that a cayuse referred to a small horse raised by Native Americans, not a member of the Cayuse Tribe. You can read more about them at A pung is a box shaped sleigh or toboggan. A go-divil is a dray used for hauling logs.

I love to read old newspapers. The stories are full of genealogical information, particularly the local social news and legal notices. This is where you find the genealogical material. This issue reports the December 24th marriage in San Francisco of Franklin Ellsworth and Julia Read McLane, daughter of the late Hon. George Read McLane, Wilmington, Delaware. Was Mr. Ellsworth a local resident or was this a celebrity wedding?

The notice of final settlement of the estate of Alva Larkin, deceased, had been filed and the hearing was scheduled for February 3rd. A summons for W. F. Trimmer to appear in the Circuit Court of Lane county by April 1st or a judgement for $430 in gold coin would be taken against him. Martin Luper was the plaintiff in the case.

A Sheriff’s sale was scheduled for to sell land and lots of William F. Delamater  to settle a $5,000 judgement against him in favor of Anderson Barlow. The land sale was necessitate by insufficient personal property to fulfill the judgement and court costs. Part of this land was from the donation land claim No. 42 issued to John Delamater and wife. I wonder what he did that caused such a large settlement.

Tune in next Sunday for more Oregon History.

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