Archives Collection Development Policies


The Oregon Health & Science University was founded in 1887 as the University of Oregon Department of Medicine. Instruction began in a two-room structure that was purchased and moved to property owned by Good Samaritan Hospital. A new facility was erected in 1893 and served the school until 1919. The medical school was renamed the University of Oregon Medical School in 1915.

The school library, known as the R. B. Wilson Library, originated in 1893 as a donation of the personal book collections from two prominent Portland physicians, Rodney Glisan and R. B. Wilson.

Second dean of the school K.A.J. Mackenzie, also serving as chief surgeon of the Oregon Railway and Navigation Company envisioned a new and modern medical facility. In 1914 he was able to acquire 20-acres of land on Marquam Hill in Southwest Portland from the railroad company.

Construction began in 1918 on the Medical Science Building, the first of many buildings at the new campus location. Bertha Hallam, first librarian, moved the library from the old location to the Medical Science Building on the Marquam Hill Campus in 1919. A fire that destroyed the old facility had threatened the entire collection. A new UOMS Library building was erected in 1939, funded by gifts from Dr. John Weeks, the Rockefeller Foundation and the U.S. Public Works Administration. In the late 1930s, Miss Hallam began to isolate materials for the History of Medicine Collection. After WWII, Oregon physicians who served in the military were asked to donate artifacts to the Medical Museum Collection.

The University received a CETA grant in 1977 to inventory and catalogue the collection. The 20th century was a time of continued growth for the University. In 1974 the University of Oregon Health Sciences Center was formed as an independent institution under the direction of the Oregon State System of Higher Education merging the Schools of Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing. The institution was renamed the Oregon Health Sciences University in 1981. OHSU became a public corporation in 1995 separate from the Oregon State System of Higher Education. And in 2001 the University changed its name once again to Oregon Health & Science University.

The University now consists of the university hospitals and clinics, research facilities, the School of Medicine, School of Dentistry, and School of Nursing, OGI School of Science and Engineering School of Science and Engineering and the Oregon National Primate Research Center and includes interdisciplinary centers and joint programs. The University is committed to the highest levels of medical education, patient health care and medical research.

In 1997, the Oregon Health Sciences University Library established the History of Medicine Archives. The Archives was founded to identify, collect, describe, preserve and make accessible, permanent records of historical value, created or received in the transactions of University affairs. The Oregon Health & Science Archives is located, in a secure and controlled environment, in the Old Library on the University Campus in the heart of Portland, Oregon.


Mission Statement

As a repository of knowledge, the mission of the Archives, is to appraise, acquire, house, preserve, maintain and facilitate access to the evidential and historical records of the University in traditional and emerging formats. The Archives assumes responsibility for the institutions cumulative collection of materials pertaining to medical education and practice in the Pacific Northwest, the history of the institution and the contributions of individuals. As cultural custodian, the Archives provides access to the collection to faculty, staff, alumni and students of the institution and to the broader research community. The Archives supports research and instruction and will collaborate with the instructional and learning community. The archival staff will communicate the holdings of the archives through educational program

The Archives promotes access to the materials by providing guides, finding aids and inventories.


Scope of Collection

The Archives is a repository of primary and secondary source materials that contain: evidential value (evidence of the origins, structure, functions, policies and operations of this institution and the persons who created the records),secondary value (reference and research beyond what was intended by the creators of the records) and/or historical value (deriving from age or connection with an historical event or person) and consists of:
  • Biography files
  • Historical Image Collection
  • History of Medicine Collection
  • Library records and materials
  • Medical Museum Collection
  • OHSU Oral History Collection
  • Pacific Northwest Archives Collection
  • Vertical Files
  • Subject files
  • Archives Collection
    • Administrative and fiscal records
    • Architectural drawings
    • Board and committee minutes and reports
    • Books
    • Diaries
    • Illustrations
    • Journals
    • Manuscripts
    • Memorabilia: paraphernalia and ephemera
    • Personal and official correspondence
    • Photographs
    • Scrapbooks


Acquisition, Preservation and Retention

The Archives is staffed with professional personnel, trained to identify, preserve, describe and provide access to historically significant materials.

The archival staff will consider a range of factors when assessing records for inclusion in the collection based on professional appraisal standards. These include but are not limited to: cost, format, language, material relevance (subject, chronology and geography), quality and condition, staff availability and storage space. Staff will also consider input from the Archives user community.

The archival staff recognizes the need to preserve evidential and historical materials for future use. Reasonable measures will be taken to house, repair, replace, reformat and restrict access or reproduction to ensure the availability and preservation of the items contained in the repository collection. The Archives recognizes the responsibility to maintain access to the collections, though some items may be withdrawn to ensure and maintain the integrity of the materials. When possible, fragile materials will be copied to alternative formats to allow continuing access to the content of the withdrawn items.

The archival staff reserves the right to reassess the repository collection of the Archives. Materials may be de-accessioned as a result of: deterioration, disposition requirements, donor agreement, duplicate or surplus resources, reappraisal for a change of values, relevancy, supersession by other materials or transfer to another repository.



The Archives will receive, by transfer or mandate from the Office of Records Management office, materials from University departments, offices, committees and organizations. These materials include, but are not limited to, correspondence, administrative and fiscal reports, policy statements, manuals, minutes, architectural drawings and plans, biennial and annual reports, curricula, and event materials.

The Archives will acquire by donation or transfer, manuscript collections that include, but are not limited to, the personal papers of faculty, staff, students, alumni, honor societies and other affiliates and extensions, publications, and unpublished materials of the University. Special collections include, but are not limited to, photographs, diaries, journals, research files, biographical and subject files, University publications, memorabilia and oral histories.

The Archives may accept donations that meet the following requirements of appraisal. The records must:

  • Contain information of historical value
  • Contain evidential value (contains evidence of the origins, structure, functions, policies and operations of a person and operations of the person or agency who created them)
  • Contain secondary value (records and archives often contain information that has reference and research uses not envisaged by its creators)
  • Be transferable by authorized donor
  • Undergo archival appraisal and be recommended for retention Be free of legal encumbrances or access restrictions (literary and copyright restrictions excluded)
  • Have documented authenticity and integrity
  • Be able to be cared for by the Archives
  • Become the property of the Archives to be administered as it sees fit (i.e., exhibition, educational programs, research, de-accession, disposal)