About the Museum's Cultural Resources
Cultural resources are tangible remains of past human activity, from places and structures to objects and records. These resources help us tell our stories.
The Washington County Historical Society collection is owned by Washington County and leased to Five Oaks Museum for permanent caretaking. It’s estimated to contain 100k individual objects between 30,400 images, 13,000 objects, 25,000 manuscripts, and 1,300 maps, plus the research library. Researchers are welcome to submit a request to access the museum’s resources.
The collection has been more than a century in the making. Originating in the 1890s, pioneer descendant groups began accumulating items to document, preserve, and celebrate the lives of European-American pioneers and their descendants, which became the basis of the is collection. Materials from non-European ethnic and cultural groups were collected with less focused intent.
Today, the sheer size of the collection impedes the caretaking and organization needed to ensure safe access, material preservation, and continued collection of cultural resources that reflect the communities we serve. The Cultural Resources Committee will oversee a thoughtful deaccessioning process to remove damaged and duplicate items.
In determining what materials to permanently collect and care for, we consider the item’s spatial requirements, duplicates in the current collection, and long-term care needs. Please contact Mariah Berlanga-Shevchuk, Cultural Resources Manager, for more information or with questions about potential donations. View the full Collections Management Policy here. Appendices B and C are available on the How We Work page.
Archives and Research Library
The extensive photograph collection spans life in Washington County in the 19th and 20th centuries. Around 8,000 of the most popular images are digitized at Washington County Heritage Online, and the collection includes many, many more.
Named for historian and mapmaker Robert L. Benson, the archives serve as a repository for certain official Washington County records. They are also home to various types of documents, manuscripts, scrapbooks, graduate theses, newspaper folios, rare books, maps, pamphlets, and audiovisual materials. The Museum’s oral history collection highlights local agricultural, logging, veterans, and Latinx community history.
The museum library contains subject and industry specific books, magazines, and other published materials. Search the online catalog here.
Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps
Sanborn maps are detailed maps of U.S. cities and towns in the 19th and 20th centuries that depict individual building’s location and materials. We have many Sanborn maps for Washington County towns, including Beaverton and Hillsboro.
Albert Tozier Papers
Albert Tozier (1860-1937) was an avid local historian and newspaper man whose collection formed the foundation of the Washington County Museum.
Patricia Whiting Papers
Patricia Whiting (1940-2010) was a Filipino-American activist and politician who represented Tigard in the Oregon House of Representatives in the 1970s, supporting environmental actions and equal rights.
Latino Oral History Collection
Recorded mainly during the early 2000’s, this collection documents the presence and stories of Mexicans and Tejanos in Washington County. Topics include moving to Oregon, migrant farmworkers, religious organizations, instances of discrimination, and founding of Centro Cultural and Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Clinic.
Objects and Belongings
The collection largely consists of European-American and settler daily life materials: clothing, quilts, farm equipment, toys, musical instruments, housewares, furniture, and trunks. Most objects were used or created by Washington County residents.
“Onto Hillsboro Ore.” Wagon
This full size wagon traveled the route of the Oregon Trail in 1959 to commemorate the centennial of Oregon Statehood. Likely the Museum’s most asked-about collection item, the wagon is currently stored in the Museum’s collection space and visited by school field trips.
Old Log Jail
Built in 1853, this one-room log jail is one of the oldest log buildings still standing in Oregon. It was used as the Washington County jail until 1870, then as a home, then an attraction at the fairgrounds, until it was restored and moved to outside of the Museum.
The Museum cares for a sizeable collection of Indigenous belongings found in Washington County throughout the 20th century: stone tools and cookware, projectiles, woven baskets, beads and beaded items. The Museum is committed to repatriation of Indigenous belongings and recognizes this will be a multi-year, relational process.
Sites and Places
The museum has a special relationship with certain sites and places across Washington County.
Five Oaks Historic Site
The Museum’s namesake, this grove of Oregon white oaks holds the story of six centuries of human interaction. In 2022, the Museum installed new interpretive signage at the historic site, which is located near Highway 26 and Helvetia Rd. and owned by a private company.
Tigard Outdoor Museum
Located in downtown Tigard, Five Oaks Museum contributed the research, writing, and images for six profiles of community members who demonstrate the neighborliness and courage to take action at the core of Tigard’s identity and illustrate major historic events and shifts that shaped the region.
This circa-1905, downtown Hillsboro residence was originally home to the Heidel family. The Washington County Historical Society (Five Oaks Museum’s predecessor) housed exhibits and collections in this historic home from 1966 to 1982. Today, the house is on Hillsboro’s Cultural Resource Inventory and is a private residence.