Genealogy Databases

The Wilsonville Public Library presently provides access to five genealogy databases with similar sounding names, but very different scopes and means of access. Please read about them below:
The library also has an ever growing heritage collection located in a designated section of the non-fiction area. The library's rapidly growing collection is well on its way to becoming one of the strongest and most easily accessible public collections for genealogical research in Oregon, as well as a major resource for local and regional history. Besides shelving for over 2500 books, it includes a couple of large microfilm cabinets, several microfilm readers, and a computer for using CD-ROM databases, and accessing genealogical material on the internet.

The Library also has a Genealogy Club. The mission of the Wilsonville Genealogy Club is to encourage and nurture an interest in genealogy by providing instruction, information and inspiration to its members. 

For more information contact Malia Laughton at 503-682-2744 or email her at laughton@wilsonvillelibrary.org.

Genealogy Databases:

AMERICA'S GENEALOGY BANK
Quickly find your ancestors in over four centuries of rare documents and records. Search thousands of historical newspapers, books, pamphlets and genealogies. Plus, selected material from the American State Papers and U.S. Serial Set, the complete Social Security Death Index and more than 29 million obituaries. 

Due to software licensing restrictions, in order to use this database, you must have originally received your library card at the Wilsonville Public Library. If you did not receive your card from the Wilsonville Public Library, you will not be able to use this database from your home. Additionally, certain firewall software may block your access to this site.

Your options if you do not have a Wilsonville Library-issued card: 

1. From within the Wilsonville Library building, access is (hopefully) always available without restriction. Come and visit us! 

2. If you cannot come to the library, please contact reference staff. Staff may be able to search the database and provide help with specific and focused genealogy questions. Contact reference staff by email at: reference@wilsonvillelibrary.org or by telephone at 503-682-2744.

Search America's Genealogy Bank


ANCESTRY LIBRARY
Only accessible from within the Library!
Ancestry produces what is often considered the preeminent genealogical database. In addition to fully indexed census records of all US census years, Ancestry contains thousands of other databases, including ship's records, banking records, vital statistics, and many, many more.

Your options if you do not have a Wilsonville Library-issued card: 

1. From within the Wilsonville Library building, access is (hopefully) always available without restriction. Come and visit us!

2. If you cannot come to the library, please contact reference staff. Staff may be able to search the database and provide help with specific and focused genealogy questions. Contact reference staff by email at: reference@wilsonvillelibrary.org or by telephone at 503-682-2744.

Search AncestryLibrary.com


FOLD3 HISTORY & GENEALOGY ARCHIVES
Fold3 provides convenient access to US military records, including the stories, photos, and personal documents of the men and women who served. Original records at Fold3 help you discover and share stories about these everyday heroes, forgotten soldiers, and the families that supported them. On Fold3, you can combine records found on the site with what you have in your own albums and shoeboxes to create an online memorial for someone who served.

Search Fold3

HERITAGEQUEST
This database is nationwide in scope and includes family histories, genealogical serials, local histories, and primary sources in full image. Also included is the ability to search Federal Census page images, indexed by name (head of household only). With resources on towns and families from all 50 states as well as Canada and the British Isles, the database includes 7.5 million fully searchable pages in addition to the census images. Not all census years are fully indexed as yet. HeritageQuest also contains PERSI, the genealogy periodical index, Revolutionary War Pension records, and much more.

Search HeritageQuest


NORTHWEST HERITAGE INDEX

This index covers mostly Clackamas County and Oregon people and places, etc., including over 16,000 obituaries from over 100 years of Canby, Oregon newspapers, originally compiled by Canby Public Library volunteers and staff.  The subjects of the obituaries were from a wide area including much of Clackamas County and northeast Marion County.  Many otherwise unindexed sources in the Wilsonville Public Library Heritage Collection have also been indexed here by our volunteer (and former Library Director) Steve Turner.  Presently about 20,000 entries in all, the index will grow over time.

Search Northwest Heritage Index


A wealth of materials, both general and in depth for Oregon

For many years the Library has been acquiring a basic collection of standard tools and guides for American (and some foreign) genealogical research, as well as almost everything we can find relating to Oregon genealogy and local history. This includes:

  • Census: All the available federal population census listings for Oregon on microfilm from 1850 through 1930, plus numerous Oregon census indexes, earlier territorial census information and some additional Oregon state census listings, plus indexes for censuses in other states. More census data is also available via our online databases (see above). The census materials allow people to find family household groups at ten-year intervals. Since 1850 these list each individual’s name, age, birthplace (state or country) and various other items of information, giving family snapshots in time. The evolution of families from decade to decade, their moves, their fortunes, and their neighbors may be revealed, often with fascinating details.
  • Vital records: substantial coverage of Oregon birth, marriage, divorce and death records, cemetery and mortuary records and indexes, plus some helpful indexes for other states
  • Directories and indexes: biographical directories, city directories, newspaper indexes, college and high school yearbooks and many other tools to help find information about people
  • Local history: local area and Portland newspapers, county and community histories, church and organizational histories, and many other items, from local historic photographs to scrapbooks and published diaries or letters. Our coverage is strongest for the Wilsonville area, Clackamas, Washington, Marion, and Multnomah counties and the Willamette Valley generally. We also have a growing online index to many materials in the Heritage Collection which are not indexed elsewhere.

For most long-term Oregon residents from the 1850s to the present, it should be possible to glean a fair amount of information from the various sources available, and more are being added all the time. Many important tools are available for Washington, Idaho, and California and other states. Some excellent guides are also available for British, Irish and other common areas of ethnic and foreign research.

A user-friendly design

A new organizational scheme was specially devised for our Heritage Collection, intended to make it easier to find relevant materials than is typical for collections that are traditionally arranged. Reflecting the strong geographic focus of local history and genealogy research, materials of all kinds are primarily grouped geographically, with counties within a state in alphabetical order. Within each county, state or other area, materials are arranged in a sequence that is partly logical and partly mnemonic, based on the nature of the contents. Such materials are typically arranged in libraries by author names or initial title words that may have limited relevance, resulting in a more haphazard arrangement. We hope our arrangement scheme and other finding aids we have in mind will make our collection easy to use and enhance the success rate for researchers.

Getting help with the collection

Staff is an important element for any special collection, and the Library is fortunate to have two gentlemen with substantial interest supplemented by some good training and experience with genealogical research. Library staffer John Smith, President of the Wilsonville/Boones Ferry Historical Society, is our key person for local history inquiries, and Reference Librarian Greg Martin has a good background in genealogical research. The collection is growing so rapidly and contains so many new resources that John, Greg, and other staff will be learning a great deal on the job, but we expect they will be able to offer substantial help with local and family history inquiries. John and Greg have already established a good record of success in this technically challenging research.

The importance of volunteers

Volunteers are another important element for the support and success of a major genealogical collection. The Library is seeking volunteers with genealogical research experience who could provide help to beginners on a regular weekly basis. Volunteers can also help with acquisition, organization, and indexing of the collection. An important benefit for volunteers who regularly work with a collection is additional expertise and knowledge they gain in the course of helping others learn the ropes of genealogy. If you’re interested in joining our genealogy volunteers, contact Steve Turner or Greg Martin at the Library, 503-682-2744.

Donating to the collection

We’re also looking for donations of many types of material that will be useful for the Heritage Collection. For example, while we have a good representation of Oregon State University and University of Oregon yearbooks (the Beavers definitely outscore the Ducks so far on this count) we would like to fill in the missing ones. Yearbooks or alumni directories for other Oregon colleges and from area high schools (especially West Linn, Oregon City, and Canby High Schools) are also on our want list.

Here are some other types of items we’d love to get, especially if they’re in really good condition:

  • Family histories, especially those with local or Oregon branches
  • Histories of Oregon cities, towns, communities, churches and organizations
  • Portland Blue Book and Social Register for various years
  • City directories from Oregon or Washington cities and towns, and old local, Clackamas/Washington/Marion County or Portland metro area phone books
  • Other published or manuscript items that serve to document the history of the Wilsonville area and the North Willamette Valley generally, or containing information on area residents and their lives
  • Other published materials useful for genealogical research in Oregon or helpful for locating families in other areas before their arrival in Oregon

It will take some time to fully achieve our goal of making this a premier Oregon local history and genealogy collection, but with good support this should definitely be an achievable goal for the Wilsonville Public Library. Come in and survey our already substantial resources and see what you can learn about your own family heritage with this special collection and the help of knowledgeable staff and volunteers.