Albany City Digital Directories Now Online | New


In 1957, the Albany Chamber of Commerce promoted the city as “Oregon’s Brightest Place in the Future” in its annual directory.

After all, it was the “northwest center of the country’s strategic metallurgical industry,” and the chamber boasted that Albany was built on a diverse industrial base that included meat packing, paper production and the manufacture of machinery.

These are the kinds of facts one can find buried in dozens of city directories published since 1878. Together they look a lot like an encyclopedia of history, facts and advertisements offering a glimpse into life. of Hub City.

For years, if anyone wanted information about these directories, they had to go through them one by one at the Albany Regional Museum or the Carnegie Library. But recently, thanks to a $ 2,500 grant from the Oregon Heritage All Star community, dozens of volumes dating back to 1878 have been digitized for easy reading and searching.

Albany is one of seven cities in Oregon to have received recognition from Oregon Heritage for its dedication to enriching heritage programs.

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“Our volunteers use digital directories a lot, especially when it comes to searching for properties,” said Keith Lohse, executive director of the museum. “It’s really great for finding property and determining if someone has relatives living in the area at any given time.”

Lohse said the information in directories is also useful in determining what types of businesses have occupied commercial buildings over the years.

“Directories don’t include all addresses, but they’ve expanded the offerings over the years,” he said. “Also, the street names changed as the city grew and business addresses changed with it. “

Lohse said that in addition to museum volunteers, townspeople visit daily for information. Now they are directed to a computer in the research room, where they can work with the new scanned files.

Entrance to the museum and use of the computer are both free, he added.

Completed by inmates under the Oklahoma Corrections Industries Program, the scanning process makes it easy to find the data found in the thousands of pages, as it has been scanned and scanned using optical character recognition software. . This means that users can enter individual words, phrases or business names and the program will recognize them, reducing search time.

Information gleaned from city directories ranges from facts and figures – such as the former mayors of Albany (Jason Wheeler in 1878, Russell Tripp in 1969) to the fact that George Rowlett received the House Key Man Award in 1969.

An advertisement in the 1878 directory stated that an annual subscription to the State Rights Democrat newspaper was only $ 3 per year up front. Mart Brown was its publisher and owner. It billed itself as “the largest and best Democratic newspaper in the state and the official newspaper of Oregon and the city of Albany.”

In 1941, Albany had three theaters, a golf course, a bowling alley and a municipal swimming pool. There were “almost every denomination” and “three strong bank” churches in town. The population was 7,000.

Some of the directory’s key advertisers were Cummings Transfer & Fuel, which supplied “storage, wood, charcoal, briquettes, sawdust and oil”; First Federal Savings & Loan Association, where savings accounts could earn 3½ percent interest; and Albany Magnolia Laundry, which was proud to employ 28 people.

In 1957, the community had a population of 12,300 and 3,700 children were enrolled in local schools. There was over $ 26 million on deposit at local banks and 8,500 electrical hook-ups. The total value of the property within the city limits was approximately $ 8.6 million, and three hotels had 161 rooms available. Some 120,000 people flocked to the annual world-famous lumber carnival, which takes place each year during the July 4th holiday.

Albany continued to tout its industrial base in 1969, when the yearbook featured photos of the new 100-by-261-foot building under construction for Oregon Metallurgical and of a new Zirconium Technology plant on South Pacific Boulevard that was to employ until to 60 people.

Golden West Mobile Homes planned to begin production in October, as part of some $ 23 million in building expansions and new factories in the community in 1969 alone.

Individually, these directories provide curious glimpses into particular eras. Together, they tell the story of a developing and thriving community.

But not all directories are available. The volumes from 1912 to 1936 and 1942 to 1946 are still missing. The city is asking anyone with copies to consider donating them to the effort.

The scanned files are available at the museum, 136 rue Lyon, or the Carnegie library, 302 rue Ferry, as well as on the city’s website at cityofalbany.net/citydirectories.

Contact Linn County reporter Alex Paul at 541-812-6114.


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