About This Project

The Washington County Oral Histories   project is a collection of digital oral histories from libraries, historical societies, museums, and other cultural and community organizations in Washington County. Inspired by the Washington County Heritage Online project, which  seeks to document the unique heritage of Washington County through collaborative digitization and display of visual resources, the Washington County Oral History collection celebrates local history through the digitization and dissemination of oral histories that were recorded in Washington County. 

Under the leadership of Pacific University and the Washington County Museum, we completed an initial proof-of-concept digitization and exhibit project in 2014. During this preliminary stage, we identified approximately 900 unique oral histories within collections in Washington County. Many of the recordings were on older audio and video cassettes from the 1970s-1980s which were rapidly deteriorating due to age. Often, the oral histories were not accessible to the public either because of their fragililty or because of the limited resources for providing access at local institutions. In 2016, Pacific University began digitizing and preserving these oral histories with the cooperation of the community organizations who had collected and kept them safe for so many years. Audio, video and textual transcriptions have all been included. The project includes not only the transfer of media onto stable digital file formats, but also systematic description of each item, hosting of streaming versions on this web site for public access, and long-term digital preservation of the uncompressed files. A fuller description of the technical aspects of the project can be found in our LSTA grant proposal and final report

This project has been made possible by support from two Oregon Library Services & Technology Act (LSTA) grants, which are administered through the Institute of Museum and Library Services . It  was created for the benefit of all those who are interested in local history, as well as libraries, museums, and other cultural institutions. We gratefully acknowledge the Oregon LSTA's support. 

To contact us with any questions, comments or the locations of other Washington County oral histories that we have not yet found, email: archives@pacificu.edu


Institutions and groups with oral histories that were inventoried for this project include:

Future Plans & Recommendations

The  Oral History Plan for Washington County, Oregon  was a report and processing plan written by the project's archivist in 2014. It provides a comprehensive analysis of the contents of the county's oral history collections as of that date, as well as recommendations for future digitization, preservation and collection development. It addresses the objectives of the LSTA-funded planning grant, which include: 

  1. An inventory of all known existing oral histories in Washington County as of 2014. You can see the 2014 inventory in an online database , see it in  spreadsheet format  or download it in comma-delimited (.csv) format .
  2. A list, created with input from community members, that identifies the most urgently needed areas for new collections of oral histories, with particular attention to underserved communities. 
  3. A plan for sustainable collection development, preservation, and access for oral history recordings within Washington County. This includes the feasibility of preserving oral histories in their current formats (such as audio cassette) as well as developing a plan and budget for converting them to digital format with an emphasis on achievable, practical solutions. (Note: Many of these recommendations from 2014 began to be implemented in 2016.)
  4. A plan for a proof-of-concept digital exhibit of at least three local oral histories. (Note: The proof-of-concept digital exhibit has since become this site!)

Additional Documentation 

The Oral History Planning Grant's  Original Planning Grant Proposal  outlines the terms of the grant that resulted in the proof-of-concept web site and inventory developed in 2014.