Please note, in accordance with OHSU's COVID-19 guidance, we are currently unable to host in-person research or class visits. We will update our in-person research availability when we are able to do so.
Our historical resources and services remain available to you, remotely: HC&A staff are available for answering questions about OHSU and health sciences history, live online historical research consultations, and scanning collection items on behalf of researchers for digital delivery. See options below.
Search our collections
- Archival collections:
Search collection guides by keyword in Archives West
- Rare books and publications:
- Digitized images and materials; born-digital items:
- Guides to history of health sciences and OHSU history sources:
History resource guides
We support broad access to our collections through online collection guides, the library catalog, digitization, and reference assistance.
HC&A staff cannot conduct extensive research on behalf of patrons, but can provide references for independent contractors upon request.
We consult with the OHSU community on using university history and historical collections for outreach and community engagement. Our role is identifying relevant materials for research and presentation, and overseeing preservation and display of materials. We can provide references for independent contractors with expertise in historical research, visual design, content development, and project management.
OHSU Library provides high-quality scans of materials from Historical Collections & Archives for individual study and research.
Please consult our copyright and publication guidelines for guidance on the use and publication of our materials.
Service fees may apply; see our list of service fees for details.
Our Public Services Coordinator is available for virtual consultations to assist you with questions related to historical research and OHSU's permanent collections of unique and rare materials.
Some specific things we can help you with:
- Formulating a historical research strategy
- Searching for and requesting historical items in our archival database, Library catalog, and digital collections
- Requesting reproductions of items in our collections
- Answering questions about the history of OHSU and the history of health sciences
If you are interested in discussing the possibility of donating historical materials, please contact Steve Duckworth, University Archivist to schedule a consultation.
Helpful tips for a successful historical research visit:
- Think well ahead of hard deadlines, and schedule in advance.
Archival research is slow research, and often involves sifting through many records. Your research may take several visits, depending on how many materials you’re using.
- Do some broad, preliminary research on your topic.
Archival materials aren’t an efficient introduction to a large well-understood topic (such as “the history of psychiatry”). Before consulting archival records, check published sources such as historical review articles or books to get a big picture idea of your topic.
- Be prepared to expend some time and effort.
While archival records document specific circumstances, we may not have individual records that address your specific question. You may need to piece together evidence from several different sources to advance your knowledge.
- Understand that archives standard practices are designed to protect the materials, but we can always consider alternative options.
Archival materials are rare and often one-of-a-kind records of the circumstances they document, and must be safeguarded against loss or damage. Additionally, as a HIPAA-covered entity, OHSU upholds strong standards to protect patient privacy. Some records are restricted from access due to the inclusion of protected health information (PHI) or to other privacy concerns. Please ask us if you have questions about our practices.
- Ask questions during your visit, and ask for help if you become frustrated.
While we are generally not able to estimate how long your research will take, or answer questions of historical trivia on the spot, we have extensive experience in assisting researchers in using our collections. Do not hesitate to ask questions if a document strikes your interest in another source, if you are confused by something, or if something is just not adding up and you need some clarification.
Adapted from “How can you help archivists to help you? Reference service from our side of the desk,” by Samantha Thompson, Archivist, Region of Peel Archives, January 23, 2019.
Our staff and facilities are available for classes, meetings, and tours. We will work with you to plan a customized experience for your group.
We encourage instructors to incorporate our resources in the history of the health sciences into their classes. We will work with you to select materials and schedule our research room for a specific class session or series.
Please contact us to arrange a class or visit.
Spanning the late 19th century to the present day, the University Archives constitute the documentary record of OHSU and its predecessor institutions. Administrative records, photographs and artwork, campus publications, research data, personal papers, and more are collected in both analog and digital formats.
To learn about the retention periods for OHSU records, peruse the Records Retention Schedule and then consult with the University Archivist and Legal Department to determine which records should be held permanently. The details of the records transfer will be worked out to best suit all involved parties.
For records not bound by the official retention schedule, such as records of student organizations, faculty research, and more, please contact the University Archivist to discuss the options.
Regarding the donation of materials that are not University records, please visit the "Donate Materials" section of the Support Historical Collections & Archives tab to learn more.
In collaboration with the Library Technology Department, we provide a digital preservation environment and deliver digital assets management consultation services for OHSU units. This service safeguards OHSU's digital assets, and provides education and support for the OHSU community with centralized internal digital media management and sharing. We work with OHSU community members on how to use the Library's digital assets management system in order to enhance the description, tracking, security, access, and sharing of creative works like digital photography, video, and sound.