Section I



This “Pathfinder” has been deliberately named by the Polk Cooperative History Project (PCHP). It guides students, genealogists, historians, and other researchers to and through the large and sometimes complex local history collections of four libraries and two museums in Polk County. More specifically, it gives the researcher precise subject access to the printed, archival, and manuscript collections in these six agencies. Using this Pathfinder and an allied website ( provides access to over 250 book and serial titles, 2,000 pamphlet files, and 100 archive, manuscript, and scrapbook collections housed in the following institutions:

  • Dallas Public Library (DAL)
  • Heritage Museum (HER)
  • Independence Public Library (IND)
  • Monmouth Public Library (MON)
  • Polk County Historical Society Museum (PHS)
  • Hamersly Library, Western Oregon University (WOU)

This Pathfinder also points the way to important holdings of Polk County history materials found outside of the county. The collection survey of outside agencies is somewhat superficial, however, and researchers are encouraged to explore these institutions in more detail on their own.

Because this Pathfinder is a publication of a grant project, it is limited in scope by the purposes of the grant. The grant did not provide for the surveying and processing of graphic resources such as photographs, maps, and oversize plans and drawings, although the Pathfinder does make incidental mention of these materials. Nor did the grant provide for surveying oral histories, unless they were in a transcribed format. Finally, the grant did not make provision for surveying the archives of non-grant agencies within Polk County. The records of pioneer churches and schools, chambers of commerce, and county and municipal governments, all of which have great potential as local history resources, are not included here unless they have been donated to one of the six grant-related agencies.

Two agencies in Polk County that the researcher might well expect to find represented here, the Falls City Public Library and the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Museum, unfortunately were not part of this Project. The Falls City Library was not operational during most of the Project and officials of the Confederated Tribes decided that their museum plans were not far enough advanced to take advantage of the Project. Finally, no attempt was made to survey the local history materials of the West Salem Branch of the Salem Public Library, although the Polk County-related materials in the parent agency are summarized in Section VIII of this guide.

Project staff, agency staff, and volunteers compiled this Pathfinder from January, 2000, to March, 2001. The Project wishes to give special thanks to Nita Wilson of the Polk County Historical Society and Dennis Moung of the Heritage Museum. The hard work of these two people made the promise of this Project a reality in their respective institutions. Volunteer Cathi Rooth spent almost 200 hours compiling the materials that went into making the subject bibliography in this Pathfinder and volunteer Marjorie Horst single-handedly converted Monmouth Public Library’s large pamphlet file to the Project’s classification system. Hamersly Library Director Gary Jensen was responsible for the surveys of institutions outside of Polk County. The Pathfinder’s county newspaper bibliography was compiled by Kathleen Casey as part of a practicum for Emporia State University’s graduate program in library science.

The Project itself was funded by a federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant administered by the Oregon State Library. The grantees are committed to updating this Pathfinder as more PCHP agency collections become accessible and to expanding coverage to include the collections of other agencies as time, additional funding, and opportunity permit.

Ron Baker, Project Supervisor

Lucy Sperlin, Project Manager

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