Genealogy Research in La Grande

Copyright 1999- 2002
Robert C. Bull

Robert C. Bull has taken the time to write and submit this excellent article on what is available in La Grande. Please send him a big thank-you for taking the time to share his knowledge. This includes EOU and the Family History Center both of which are located in La Grande.


WALTER M. PIERCE LIBRARY at Eastern Oregon University in La Grande has one room set aside for genealogy. There are hundreds of books there including some for almost every state. These books alone are enough to excite any genealogist, but there is more. The library has an extensive microflm collection including the following census films:


  Summer Hours:
June 24 - August 2
  Monday Thursday 7 30 a m 9 00 p m
  Friday 7:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
  Saturday 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
  Sunday 5:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Exception: July 4 -- Closed Independence Day
August 3-September l5
Monday - Friday
8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Exception: September 2 - Closed Labor Day
Closed Weekends

New Hours for Winter
Monday-Thursday        7:30 am to 11 pm
Friday                         7:30 am to 6 pm
Saturday                     11 am to 7 pm
Sunday                       2 pm to 11 pm


1790 CT, ME, MD, MA, NH, NY, NC, PA, RI, SC, VT, CT\NH, NY\PA, RI\VA.

1800 CT, DE, Wash. DC, ME, MD, MA, NH, NY, NC, PA, RI, SC, VT.

1850 AR, CA, IL, KY, MO, OR.

1860 CA, KS, NE, NC, OR, WA.

1870 AZ, CA, Dakota, ID, KS, NE, NV, NM, OR, UT, WA, WY.

1880 AZ, CA, CO, Dakota, ID, KS, MT, NE, NV, NM, OR, UT,WA, WY.

1890 Civil War Vets & Widows. Union Co. OR.

1900 ID, MT, OR, WA.

1910 ID, OR, WA.


1880 AZ, CA, CO, Dakota, ID, KS, MT, NE, NV, NM, OR, UT,WA, WY.

1900 ID, MT, OR, WA.

Besides the census films, there are Union County MARRIAGE RECORDS and DEATH RECORDS on microfilm. Many other genealogy oriented microfilm rolls are located there also.

Sounds almost to good to be true, but that's not all. The library has microfilm for almost TWO HUNDRED newspapers. With certain exceptions having regional pioneer significance (papers from Oregon City, Portland, Lewiston, Boise, Walla Walla) all newspapers there are from Oregon towns located east of the Cascade Range. Check the library's "Genealogy Holdings" book for a list of the newspapers. Some newspapers for La Grande are as early as 1868.

The library automated Information system phone number is: 541-962-3579. The library can be reached thru the internet Eastern Oregon University and the library card file accessed.



The other exceptional genealogy library is the LDS FAMILY HISTORY CENTER located at 2504 N Fir, La Grande. This Family History Center is probably one of the best ones in the entire state. Numerous books line the shelves covering all the various aspects of genealogy including several books covering Union, Wallowa and Baker Counties. Also, there are several books containing local obituaries. Three computers are available that have databases to search including ANCESTRAL FILE and IGI.

Like the library at the University, the La Grande Family History Center has hundreds of microfilm rolls, including all of Oregon's census films (except 1890). Also, the 1880, 1900, 1920 Oregon soundex films. There are some films also for Washington, California and Idaho including some soundex. Misc. rolls cover some of the other states. Best of all are the MARRIAGE INDEXES and DEATH INDEXES for the entire state of Oregon, also some for California and Idaho. Union County MARRIAGE RECORDS are on microfilm; Wallowa County and Baker County MARRIAGE RECORDS are located in books that were compiled by Joy Rasmussen. The Union County MARRIAGE RECORDS date from 1865. The Family History Center has death and burial records on the computer, microfilm and card file. Other records on microfilm include: CIVIL WAR RECORDS (Confederate); DEED RECORDS; LAND GRANTS and many misc. records for Union County. The La Grande OBSERVER microfilm is also available for viewing. For a small fee, microfilm and microfiche can be ordered from the FAMILY HISTORY LIBRARY located in Salt Lake City. Once the film arrives, it is available for viewing for six weeks at the local Family History Center then sent back.

Along with the microfilm there are drawers filled with microfiche covering hundreds of subjects, SURNAME LISTINGS, PERSI, MARRIAGE INDEXES and so on. There is so much information that one cannot list it here. The librarians there are very friendly and are able to help you find what you are looking for. As with any library, there is a small fee for copies from the copy machine, computer printouts and copies made from film, but there is no charge to view films or to use the other resources of the library. The Family History Center's phone number is: 541-963-5003. Open to the public five days a week, their hours are:

Monday 9a.m. - 4:30p.m.
Tuesday 9a.m. - 9p.m.
Wednesday 6p.m. - 9p.m.
Thursday 9a.m. - 5p.m.
Friday 9a.m. - 1p.m.

Their mailing address is:

Family History Center
P.O. Box 31
La Grande, OR 97850

These two unique libraries offer the researcher in Union County a vast amount of information not readily available otherwise.