University Library, Washington County Museum bring area's heritage online

The Pacific University Library and Washington County Museum have partnered to create a digital repository of photographs chronicling the county's rich history. Supported in part by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Picture this: The click of a mouse gives you instant access to thousands of photos chronicling Washington County's rich history.

Looking for a picture of the Old Scotch Church? Click. How about a picture of a steamboat at Emerick’s Landing in Forest Grove? Click. Or a photo of a Latino children's celebration in Hillsboro? Click.

Thanks to a collaborative project between the Pacific University Library and Washington County Museum, such a place now exists in cyberspace.

Washington County Heritage Online, located at, features more than 2,000 photographs past and present from collections housed at the Pacific University Library, Washington County Museum and Centro Cultural. And it is growing daily.

Initial galleries include Pacific University's class of 1878, historic looks at Forest Grove and Hillsboro, images of the area's Native American heritage, and the growing Latino community.

The project enables the Pacific University Library and Washington County Museum to help other local educational and cultural organizations share and preserve their own unique and special collections. It is supported in part by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Oregon State Library.

Project Manager Lindsay Zaborowski said the site is designed to house many more collections from the county's vast network of public libraries, cultural and historical organizations. Ultimately, she said, the project will allow for wider access to the unique materials found in Washington County.

"Interested contributors from these organizations will be trained to catalog their submissions under a uniform standard," Zaborowski added. "This creates consistency so that the project can contribute to other regional and national projects."

Centro Cultural has contributed more than 800 images thus far. "The Latino community has been a growing presence in Washington County for more than four decades, as evidenced by our collections in WCHO," executive director Jose Rivera said. "We are proud to take part in this important project."

The digital archive is indeed a boon for everyone, including researchers, students, teachers and historians.

Eva Guggemos, Pacific University archives and special collections librarian, said one of the primary goals of the project is to increase collaboration between libraries, museums, historical societies, educational entities and cultural organizations.

"WCHO is a digital resource that will allow people from various organizations with different collections to share and benefit from one another," she said.

Sam Shogren, Washington County Museum executive director, noted another advantage of enhanced online access to the area’s many collections physically housed in different locations.  

“Washington County Heritage Online is a resource available to all through a common gateway. Ultimately, how you look for heritage materials at the Museum, at the Pacific University Library, at a public library or your local historical society will be consistent. Think of it as a Library of Congress catalog for local history,” he said.

For more information, please contact Zaborowski at

Posted by Joe Lang ( on Mar 6, 2012 at 6:02 PM

Edited by Stephanie Haugen ( on May 1, 2012 at 3:56 PM

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