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Oregon Historical Society's digital collection is a work in progress with many archives already online.

COURTESY OF THE OREGON HISTORICAL SOCIETY - A band marches down a street in 1920s downtown Portland. This photo is part of the Oregon Journal nitrate negative collection.In 2015, the Oregon Historical Society embarked on an ambitious two-year project to build an infrastructure to create, collect, preserve and provide access to digital materials in its vast historic collections.

This month, OHS announced a major milestone in this project, with the official launch of OHS Digital Collections.

This new website allows online public access to a rich variety of materials from the OHS Research Library, including items from the manuscript, photograph, film and oral history collections. Behind the scenes, these files are safeguarded using a series of digital preservation workflows, systems and storage processes called the OHS Digital Vault.

"We're proud to announce the availability of this platform, which we view as a cornerstone of our organizational mission to make Oregon's history open and accessible to all," said OHS digital archivist Mathieu Deschaine. "We look forward to continued additions that will illustrate the breadth and diversity of our holdings and encourage their use for teaching, learning and research."

While collections will continue to be added to the site on an ongoing basis, many notable collections already are live on the site, including the following:

• Photographs from Oregon conservation pioneers William L. Finley, Irene Finley, and Herman Bohlman, part of the "Reuniting Finley and Bohlman" project, a current year-long collaboration with Oregon State University Special Collections and Archives Research Center.

• Newspaper photographs from the Oregon Journal nitrate negative collection, consisting of images from the Portland paper taken during the 1920s and 1930s.

• Papers of Joel Palmer, 1848-80, Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Oregon Territory and an Oregon state legislator. Digitization was done in collaboration with the University of Oregon Special Collections.

• Landscape photographs by the renowned San Francisco photographer Carleton E. Watkins taken during his visits to Oregon and the Columbia River in the 1860s and 1880s.

  • Early twentieth century photographs from Portland's Kiser Photo Co., one of the most successful and widely known commercial studios in the American West.

  • Selected oral histories, including interviews from the Gay and Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest.

  • More than 1,100 portraits from the OHS Cartes de Visite Collection, 1861-1893.

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