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A terrific resource for Oregon research

Whenever The Legal Genealogist travels to speak to local genealogical societies, one of the preparatory steps is to find resources for the laws of that local area.

It’s a sure bet that those local laws, starting as far back as the jurisdiction came into existence, are going to be critically important to genealogical research in that area.


You know why.

You’ve heard me say it or read it here 1000 times: to understand the records, we have to understand the laws, and the specific laws of the time and place where the record was created.

Sometimes finding the laws is a real pain.

And then there are times when you come across a resource and just sigh… wishing you were a local resident.

That’s what happened for my research into the laws here in Oregon, where I’m lollygagging around after speaking at the Bend Genealogical Society this past Saturday.1

Oregon has something called the State of Oregon Law Library. Its website explains:

The mission of the State of Oregon Law Library (SOLL) is to provide the comprehensive legal resources that the executive, legislative and judicial branches of state government require to serve the public effectively and to afford all Oregonians access to legal information. If you are lucky enough to live within the borders of this great state, you have access to … public, legal research databases, provided by the SOLL.2

Now there are some things on the website that are available if you are not “lucky enough to live within the borders” of Oregon. A copy of “An Act to Establish the Territorial Government of Oregon,” ch. 177, 9 Stat. 323-331 (1848). A guide to “Oregon Law Before Statehood: History and Sources.” And the Territorial Statutes of Oregon from 1854.3

But the jewel in this online collection is access to a service called Fastcase. It’s an online legal research system that provides access to court cases and statutory law and it’s really a terrific resource.

If you are “lucky enough to live within the borders” of Oregon, what you get through Fastcase is pretty amazing. The complete collection list is here, but just for starters, Oregonians get access to:

• Federal cases from the U.S. Supreme Court and U.S. Court of Appeals;

• State cases from Oregon, Alaska, California, Montana, Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, and Washington;

• Current federal statutes and session laws; and

• State statutes from Oregon in PDF format from 1861-1945 and in HTML format for 2007-2013, plus access to the laws of Alaska starting in 1900, Arizona starting in 1864, California starting in 1853, Idaho starting in 1863, Montana starting in 1864, Nevada starting in 1861 and Washington starting in 1854.4

A warning: if you’re not “lucky enough to live within the borders” of Oregon, you won’t be able to access this. They really do know where you are when you try to log in, and if you’re not in Oregon, you’ll get a multi-colored screen telling you: “This research service is made available to Oregonians by the State of Oregon Law Library. You must be located inside the State of Oregon to register or log in. It appears that you are trying to register or log in from outside the state.”


For Oregonians only… you guys are really lucky.


  1. I’m speaking in Tacoma, Washington, on Saturday, so decided to stay and sightsee. Bend and the entire Central Oregon area is gorgeous
  2. For All Oregonians,” State of Oregon Law Library ( : accessed 23 Apr 2017).
  3. Ibid., “Oregon Law, Pre-Statehood.”
  4. The website says “2854”… but I don’t believe ’em.
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