Government & Public Records Online
Locating Public Records- an introduction
In general, public records will be available from one of four different agencies:
- Federal: Information created, gathered, and maintained by the U.S. Government. A typical example of this is the statistical data made available through the U.S. Census Bureau. The online tools available to access federal information are often very sophisticated, but the information itself will often be very broad in scope.
- USA.gov -- The official web portal to the U.S. Government with links to most federal agencies and a host of government services and information.
- State: Information created, gathered, and maintained by the government bodies of each state. Educational and employment statistics are two examples of information commonly available at the state level.
- Oregon.gov -- State of Oregon's government web portal.
- County/Local: Information maintained on the local county level. May not be available online.
- Douglas County, Oregon E-Government -- Links to county departments and resources.
- Private: These are resources and libraries created by third-party companies. A typical example would be online "phone directories." Sometimes, these companies may charge for release of more detailed information (For example, on a domain registration look-up, obtaining more detail than a basic profile requires payment of a fee).
For help locating resources, or exploring additional records, come talk to a librarian! We're here to help!
Contact a librarian by: email,
or come into the library M-F
State of Oregon:
ORESTAR - Search Campaign Filings & Transactions
A resource site put together by the non-profit Center for Responsive Politics, OpenSecrets allows one to search for campaign finance reports for candidates and elected officials by region and justification. Each profile also includes a brief synopsis of past funding trends and when the official is due for their next election cycle.
Project VoteSmart is a non-profit, non-partisan effort to provide information on national "candidates and elected officials in five basic categories: biographical information, issue positions, voting records, campaign finances and interest group ratings."
Government Information & Social Media
2010 US Census Interactive Population Map
"The 2010 Census reported 308.7 million people in the United States, a 9.7 percent increase from the 2000 Census population of 281.4 million. Find out who we are, where we are and compare your community with others across America."
The Federal Register in social portal format-- track meetings, government meetings and hearings affecting your local community, and more. "By making such documents as the Federal Register searchable, more accessible and easier to digest, GovPulse seeks to encourage every citizen to become more involved in the workings of their government and make their voice heard on the things that matter to them, from the smallest to the largest issues."
"This website hosts the world's largest list of government agencies and elected officials on Twitter, tracking state/local, federal, contractors, media, academics, non-profits and government outside of the U.S."
"Data.gov enables the public to participate in government by providing downloadable Federal datasets to build applications, conduct analyses, and perform research."
A blog on recent decisions and news related to the Supreme Court of the United States.
White House Blog
A blog run by the White House-- there is a list of related blogs on current administration initiatives on the right.
A blog run by the web publication "The Hill," which covers news related to the US Congress and invites current lawmakers to post guest opinion articles related to current issues and legislation.
Records of land ownership are usually available through the county Assessor. Plotting maps are kept at the county Surveyor's Office.
- Douglas County, Ore. Assessor Department
"The County Assessor's chief responsibilities are to appraise property; to maintain ownership maps and indexes of property; to approve and monitor special farm and forest assessments and all exemption programs; and to prepare an assessment roll and tax roll. The County Assessor does not determine the amount of taxes to be levied. Local budget committees within cities, the County and special districts determine dollar amounts needed in tax levies. The required amounts are placed on the tax rolls by the County Assessor."
- Douglas County Surveyor's Office
"The Surveyor's Office is responsible for maintaining records for all land surveys done in Douglas County; restoring, preserving, and documenting major land corners that were originally surveyed by the Federal Government in the 1850's; and checking subdivisions, land partitions, and boundary surveys presented by private surveyors for filing. In addition, the Surveyor's Office is the repository for plot maps, State and County road right-of-way plans, aerial photographs, and other various survey information. Copies of all filed survey maps and photos are available to the public and are reproduced for a small fee."
- Douglas County Zoning Database
Look up zoning information online.
Birth (& Death) Records
State of Oregon:
Directory information for accessing birth and death records is available through the State of Oregon Department of Human Services:
Douglas Co. Vital Records
"Birth and death certificates can be obtained locally within 6 months of the event. After 6 months, records are transferred to the State." Certificates must be purchased; check this site for exact rates.
Note: Court records of cases dealing with juveniles are not usually available.
Douglas County/Municipal Courts
Douglas County Courthouse (Circuit Court case records available in the County Clerk's Archives).
State of Oregon
Oregon Courts: Court of Appeals, Oregon Supreme Court, Tax Courts
(These records can also be located on the main Oregon State Government Portal.) For Circuit Court records, check by county. Local court dockets are available here, but not decisions.
A good portal to start your searching in various federal courts including the District Court in Portland (use the following menu options):
- Courts -> By state (OR) -> select court (9th Circuit) -> website address; PACER link
- PACER: electronic access to court documents; user is CHARGED by the number of pages downloaded.
- LexisNexis Academic
(Choose the "Legal" search option.) Search for case summaries and opinions from many levels (federal, state, district, tax, etc.). LexisNexis is available on-campus only.
- Westlaw: Expensive but very comprehensive database with court cases and decisions from all levels. (Not at UCC)
Delinquent Tax & Lien Records
County Clerk-Recording Division -at the Douglas Co. Courthouse.
Keeps a permanent public record of real estate transactions and liens.
Assessor & Tax Dept. -at the Douglas Co. Courthouse.
Assesses and collects taxes on property, etc.
State of Oregon:
Oregon Department of Revenue
Responsible for oversight responsibility of assessment and taxation programs for all 36 counties in Oregon. (This office does not hold records.)
Voter Registration Statistics
Clerk's Office: Elections Division
Registers voters and conducts elections and ballot counts for Douglas Co.
Motor Vehicle Registrations
State of Oregon
Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles
Look under the Records Info. link for more information on what is and is not obtainable through a public records request.
Fish & Game Licenses
State of Oregon:
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
Note: Publicly available information on licenses includes cost, date range, type, etc., NOT personal data on licensees.
State of Oregon:
Oregon Department of Education: Reports, Data, and Statistics
Most data is available on a county-by-county basis.
U.S. Department of Education
Statistics & initiatives at the national level.
Local County & Municipal Documents
County and City Events, Meetings
Douglas County E-Government
Look on the right-hand side of the main page for a listing of current and upcoming meetings.
Douglas Co. Board of Commissioners Archive
View online videos of past meetings, access past agendas, and more. (Requires Microsoft Internet Explorer for videos.)
County Code (Ordinances)
Douglas Co. Code, online
Douglas Co. Legal Policies and Procedures
Includes fine rates, purchasing rules for county acquisitions, and other municipal and county procedure documents.
County Employee Salaries Douglas Co. Human Resources Dept.
Use the menu links to the left of the page to access the county's salary and benefits schedule, and more.
Fire and Police Records
Douglas Co. Sheriff's Office
Use the menu on the left to access the hours and fees associated with requesting copies of police reports.
State of Oregon
Oregon State Police
Fire Department Records are by city or district (if a rural area). For example, Roseburg Fire Department.
Utility Records-- environmental factors
Douglas Co. Environmental Health Services
"Environmental Health Services is composed of four programs: Licensed Facilities, Drinking Water, Epidemiology, and Bioterrorism. Environmental Health Services assures regulation of food services, tourist facilities, institutions, public swimming and spa pools, water supplies, solid waste, and onsite sewage disposal systems. Regulation occurs through inspection, licensure, consultation, and complaint investigation."
State of Oregon
Oregon Secretary of State Business Registration Directory
"This website is being developed as a "One Stop" center for business interactions with the State of Oregon. Currently, the only online service through this site is the registration of either a new Assumed Business Name or a new Oregon Limited Liability Company."
Business & Company Resource Center (Gale Cengage)
Dynamic, topical business information and company and industry intelligence on thousands of global companies. Gale Cengage databases are available off-campus; please come to the library for the access username and password.
LexisNexis Company Profiles
(Choose the "Business" option at the top.) Search for major corporations worldwide and view financials, organizational charts, recent patents, and more. LexisNexis is available on-campus only.
EBSCOHost Business Search Interface
Search for profiles of major public and private companies, data provided by Datamonitor. EBSCOHost is available off-campus; please come to the library for the access username and password.
Webpage Archives & Rankings, Domain Registrations, etc.
"The leading blog search engine and directory, Technorati.com indexes more than a million blogs. ... Technorati.com tracks not only the authority and influence of blogs, but also the most comprehensive and current index of who and what is most popular in the Blogosphere."
"With Google Trends, you can compare the world’s interest in your favorite topics. Enter up to five topics and see how often they’ve been searched on Google over time. Google Trends also shows how frequently your topics have appeared in Google News stories, and in which geographic regions people have searched for them most."
Public web search of peer-reviewed research articles and books. Google Scholar will provide a rough indication of how many other works have cited a result (based on citations available on the web) and links to full text when openly available.
Browse through 85 billion web pages archived from 1996 to a few months ago.
Use a web address to discover who has registered that domain.
Reverse Phone Directory
Find a business or person by phone number. Note!-- only works for publicly listed numbers.
National Personnel Records Center
"The National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records (NPRC-MPR) is the repository of millions of military personnel, health, and medical records of discharged and deceased veterans of all services during the 20th century."
National Archives-- Pre-WWII Military Records
"The National Archives Building, Washington, D.C., holds records relating to:
* Volunteer enlisted men and officers whose military service was performed during an emergency and whose service was considered to be in the federal interest, 1775 to 1902
* Regular Army enlisted personnel, serving 1789–October 31, 1912
* Regular Army officers, serving 1789–June 30, 1917
* U.S. Navy enlisted personnel, serving 1798–1885
* U.S. Navy officers, serving 1798–1902
* U.S. Marine Corps enlisted personnel, serving 1798–1904
* Some U.S. Marine Corps officers, serving 1798–1895
* Those who served in predecessor agencies to the U.S. Coast Guard (i.e., the Revenue Cutter Service [Revenue Marine], the Life-Saving Service, and the Lighthouse Service, 1791–1919)."