Research Library

The Clark County Historical Society is dedicated to the collection, preservation, and interpretation of the cultural history of Clark County and the Pacific Northwest, and to sponsoring educational programs and exhibits for the enrichment of all members of the public.

The Research Library is housed on the lower level of the museum. Access to the Research Library is free to members, and included with paid museum admission for other visitors. The Library is open during regular museum hours, but closed during First Thursday Speaker Series programs and other special events.

The Clark County Historical Museum’s (CCHM) Research Library offers access to historical books, maps, individual and corporate records, maps and ephemera (such as pamphlets and brochures); and oral history transcripts. Popular resources in the Research Library collection include the Polk City Directories for the City of Vancouver, Clark County History Annuals, cemetery records, historical home surveys, and topical research boxes arranged by subject headings.

Thanks to ongoing digitization projects, several portions of our archives are available online. These can be found through our Electronic Resources page.

Regarding genealogical research, it should be noted that CCHM’s resources are limited. More comprehensive resources may be found at the Clark County Genealogical Society (located at 717 Grand Boulevard) by calling 360-750-5688 or by email.

General Guidelines

Public Library VancouverResearch Library materials are non-circulating. Our items may not be checked out or obtained through interlibrary loan.

Most stacks are open and many materials may be browsed. For some materials, such as original photographs and archival records, retrieval must be requested of the library staff and may require an appointment to be made.

Photocopying is available at a cost and may require staff assistance.

We suggest you conduct preliminary research at your local public or academic library, where you may find a wide selection of books, serials, and newspapers to help you prepare for specialized research in our library.

Items do not appear in an online catalog.

What to bring

Pencil (no pens, please)
Paper or writing tablet
Laptop computers (but no cases) are allowed

What NOT to bring

Cameras, scanners, or other electronic recording devices
Food, drinks, chewing gum, mints, etc.
Coats, book bags, briefcases, backpacks, large purses, strollers, carts (these items may be left in a locker or checked-in at the front desk)

Please plan ahead by contacting the Clark County Historical Museum by phone at 360.993.5679 or send us an email to coordinate your visit to the Research Library and to ensure that appropriate staff assistance will be available.

Photocopying materials from the Research Library

Original documents come in numerous sizes and conditions of preservation. There are various technologies with varying costs for making copies and there may be related issues of copyright and use agreements related to making and publishing copies of photographs. It should be noted that all photocopying damages documents physically and chemically. Researchers are urged to make a good faith effort to take notes in lieu of requesting photocopies.

  • Photocopying is done at the discretion of CCHM.
  • Due to their condition, age, or legal restrictions, some material may not be reproduced.
  • Oversized materials larger than 11 by 17 inches, bound manuscripts, and rare books will not be photocopied.
  • Entire published works, manuscripts, transcripts, or photographic collections will not be photocopied or reproduced.
  • Cameras, hand-held scanners, or other duplication devices are not allowed in the Research Library.
  • Permission to examine, request, and obtain photocopies of materials in the Research Library is not an authorization to publish them.
  • Some items that cannot be photocopied or scanned may be photographed and mailed for a fee.

Office copy machine-quality copies on ordinary copy paper fees are:

  • 8.5 x 11 inches – 25¢ per page
  • 8.5 x 14 inches – 35¢ per page
  • 11 x 17 inches – 45¢ per page

Research Requests

Research RequestMany of the items in the Research Library are unique and some are quite fragile and require special handling. We take special precautions to ensure that our collections will be available to many generations of users. All materials must stay in the main Research Library area at all times. While most stacks are open and may be browsed independently, some materials, such as original photographs and maps, must be requested of the library staff.

“Distance research” requests can be made and will be evaluated given the limitations of the materials available in the Research Library as well as the expertise of staff and time available. Such requests are typically made by researchers who cannot come to the museum to do their own research. Although such research requests may be made by telephone, it is preferred that such requests be made by filling out the Research Request form below. Be as specific as you can about what you want to find. For instance, include names, dates, and locations. If you need a particular type of format such as manuscripts, maps, or photographs, be sure to note it.

Collections Access Requests

Unlike the Research Library, the museum collection is not open to the public. To determine if our collection contains materials or objects relevant to your research, please contact the Museum’s Collection Manager by phone at 360-993-5679 or by email. If you want to view specific items, please request an appointment well in advance of your visit.