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These pages are © Copyright 2001-2007, by Julie Kidd, all rights reserved. 


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Liisa Fagerlund, Archivist

under the direction of STANLEY T. PARR

Records Management Officer

Office of General Services

Records Management


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We are grateful to the following individuals and institutions for their assistance in this project. Mayors Neil Goldschmidt and Francis J. Ivancie, and City Commissioners Charles Jordan, Mike Lindberg, Mildred Schwab, and current Commissioner in Charge Margaret Strachan have provided funding support over the years. State Archivist James D. Porter and Oregon Historical Society Director Thomas Vaughan were both instrumental in obtaining federal funding through the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. The staffs of the NHPRC and the National Archives and Records Service, Seattle branch, were sources of sound advice and counsel. Finally, our thanks to Modena Bryan for her skillful photographic assistance.

This guide was funded in part by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

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When making citations to records listed in this guide, the following information should be provided: record group name, record series title and number, and name of repository.


City Auditor, Annual Reports of Officers (2002–12), Portland Archives and Records Center.

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The purpose of the City of Portland Archives Guide is to increase access to the records of city government so that greater use may be made of this important resource.


The Guide includes listings and descriptions of all records series of archival value, created by current and former city agencies, which are held by the Portland Archives and Records Center (PARC) or one of the operating offices of city government.

The majority of archival records listed are located at PARC, but some are required in the creating agency for operational use. In determining which records would appear in this guide, it was decided to include those maintained in active offices rather than to exclude them on the basis of location. Access to these records is obtained through the Portland Archives and Records Center.


The Guide is divided into 35 record groups. Each group consists of a bureau or office of city government. These are arranged alphabetically (by current name or name at the time of dissolution), with the exception of mayors* and commissioners* offices, which appear first, and volunteer agencies, which appear last. See the Table of Contents for a complete list.

The entry for each record group consists of record group number, title, and administrative history of the bureau or office. Record series within each group are arranged by functional division, and include record series number, title, inclusive dates, volume in cubic feet, and a description of series contents and arrangement.

To locate series descriptions for a particular record group, consult the Table of Contents for the location of that record group. For records on a specific subject, issue, function of city government, or name of a person or company having business with the city, consult the Index, which leads back to the description of the series containing reference to that item.

Index terms were compiled from finding aids for each series. Therefore, the series description may not include reference to a term under which the series is located in the index. For further details as to the content of the series, consult additional finding aids located at PARC. These finding aids include, for nearly every series, a folder listing or inventory of the contents of the series.


The Guide and series level finding aids are the product of SPINDEX, a set of computer programs designed to generate finding aids for archival and records holdings. SPINDEX was developed by the National Archives and Records Service and obtained by the City of Portland for use in its Records Management Program.

All descriptive information on record groups, subgroups, series, and folder headings or photograph titles are entered into a data base management system. From that master file, selected elements of the descriptive material may be extracted to produce, as in this case, a guide to archival materials through the series level. Other report capabilities include guides to individual series, including folder headings, chronological listings of all series in the data base, and various indexes.

All text for the descriptive system is entered into the city/county computer using a word processor as a remote job entry computer terminal. The assembled texts of the Guide and index were routed back to our word processor by the computer and the finished texts further edited before printing.


The City of Portland was incorporated in 1851 by the Territory of Oregon. In 1913 a new city charter was adopted which eliminated the ward system and established the commission form of government, which continues to the present.

Under the commission form of government, the mayor and four commissioners are elected to the City Council. The Council is the legislative branch of city government and its members, along with an elected auditor, manage city departments. All six are elected on a non-partisan basis and serve four-year terms.

The mayor is empowered to designate a commissioner or him/herself to be the commissioner in charge of each of the five departments of the city. The mayor then assigns bureaus to the departments. These designations may be changed or a transfer of commissioners made fran one department to another.

The five departments are Public Utilities, Public Safety, Finance and Administration, Public Works, and Public Affairs. The Council Calendar (2001–02), printed weekly by the auditor, shows the current assignment of duties to each commissioner.

The decisions of the City Council are recorded in several series including Council Proceedings (2001–03), Council Documents (2001–11 through 2001–14), Ordinances (2001–07), and Resolutions (2001–06). These records are found in unbroken runs from 1851, and constitute the major source of information on most subjects prior to 1913 when the commission form of government was inaugurated and city bureaus established.


The City of Portland Records Management program began in 1976 when management analysts recommended that a records management study be conducted. The city hired a records manager and contracted with the National Archives and Records Service to provide consultation and help in establishing a comprehensive records management program.

The study was initiated with a city–wide records inventory. Within a few months an archivist, a records analyst, four archives technicians, and ten records inventory clerks were added to the program using federal special project and anti-recessional funds. This enabled acceleration of the city–wide records inventory and provided an archival staff to inventory and appraise inactive records stored in various neglected locations.

The records inventory of active and inactive records revealed total records holdings of over 30,000 cubic feet, of which two-thirds were directly related to the function or programs of individual city bureaus. The remaining third were administrative records or files of mixed administrative and program records. The dates of the materials ranged from the chartering of the city in 1851, eight years before statehood, to the present, with a majority of records in the last two decades. The inventory reported a conservative annual growth estimate of ten percent or 3,000 cubic feet per year, and a permanent records collection of 3,500 cubic feet.

Following the inventory, the resulting information was compiled and analyzed and retention schedules developed for all city bureaus. Each schedule was reviewed by records management staff, bureau management, internal auditors, city legal staff, and the state archivist. When a majority of schedules were approved by the state archivist, a records manual was adopted by the City Council, The manual contains a section outlining records management policies and procedures, and includes all approved retention and disposition schedules for the city.

Even before the inventory was complete, it was apparent that city records were a valuable archival resource, but they were decentralized and the information contained in them was largely unknown or inaccessible. A grant proposal was prepared, the support of City Council for a fifty percent share of project costs obtained, and funds awarded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission The three-year grant project began in 1978.

At the close of the grant period in 1981, the records management program moved into the newly remodeled city incinerator building, which became the Portland Archives and Records Center (PARC).


The Portland Archives and Records Center (PARC) is located at 9360 North Columbia Boulevard, Portland, Oregon, 97203. Hours of service are 8 to 5, Monday through Friday. Telephone number: (503) 248–4631. Research space and assistance is provided to city employees and members of the public. Photo-copying and photographic reproduction services are available at cost.