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Secretary of State has the right tools for records searches

Nowadays, it is so easy to find copies of recent public records such as marriage licenses or property data, because they are digitized in some way. But what about older records from before the digital age? How can I find, for example, a marriage license from the year my parents got married, in 1965?

— Edward

The Secretary of State’s Office oversees the retention and inventory of records both new and old, and information about where to find analog records can still be found digitally, on the office’s website.

If you visit www.sos.oregon.gov, you’ll see a menu in the top banner that includes the option of “State Archives.”

Click it, and you’ll see a handy menu of options including the Oregon Blue Book, Exhibits and Events and Archival Records. By clicking the last option, you’ll find a series of databases on early Oregonians — a project attempting to “document all individuals who lived in Oregon prior to statehood,” — historical photographs, and the Oregon Historical County Records Guide, among others.

If you click the county records guide, you’ll see the option to view County Records Inventories. There, you’ll be able to find the specific record inventory for Jackson County, which lists out the historical records that are kept in analog form, in a box or container, and what records are available in which time frames.

You’ll find that a lot of these records are for information the county doesn’t track any longer — such as Animal Bounty Records. Those document the payment of county and state bounty money paid to people who presented the scalp and “other prescribed body parts” of “targeted predatory animals.” That program, for which records exist running from 1885 to 1968, was designed to “control the threat to livestock,” according to the Secretary of State’s website.

Those records are kept at the storage facility kept by Access Information Protected. That’s the company with which Jackson County contracts to store its physical records.

You’ll find a host of other interesting pieces to the county’s historical puzzle, including aerial photographs, insane commitment records and even married women’s property registers. Running from 1859 until 1902, those document “property held by women independently and separately from their husbands,” usually “in relation to a marriage or divorce settlement.”

Marriage records available in this format run from 1853 through 1970.

The Secretary of State’s website recommends starting your request with the Jackson County Clerk if you don’t know up front which department is relevant to the search.

“Please specify the accession number and box number, if provided, along with the name of the record when placing a request,” the website reads.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; or by email to youasked@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.