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Josephine County History Books and Publications

The following are books and studies written during the past 50 years that deal primarily with Josephine County history or communities in Josephine County. If you have additional books to suggest please complete this form.  You may also use this [ PDF ] version.
This listing is merely to inform people of some of the available history books and studies. It is not an endorsement of any or all of the publications.
Atwood, Kay, Ward Tonsfeldt and Dennis Gray. Mining Resources of the Upper Illinois Valley, Oregon: Multiple Property Submission to the National Register of Historic Places. Medford: Bureau of Land Management Medford District Office, 2000. 503 pages.
A historic context of mining in the Upper Illinois Valley of Oregon, with a special emphasis on Gold Placer Mining and Development in the Waldo Vicinity between 1851 and 1942. A special section is included that identifies what resources related to this historic event are eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. This document was never submitted to the Keeper of the National Register and currently no properties as listed under it. 
Beckham, Stephen Dow. An Inventory and Evaluation of the Historical Significance of the Civilian Conservation Corps Buildings on the Siskiyou National Forest. Grants Pass: US Department of Agriculture, Siskiyou National Forest, 1979. Maps, illustrations, bibliography. 208 pages. 
An inventory of buildings constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the Siskiyou National Forest during the 1930s. Each building and structure constructed by the CCC is fully documented using maps, illustrations, photographs, and narrative description. A brief history of the CCC’s activity in the forest is included. PDF [13 MB] 


Brandt, Roger. “Auto Courts of Illinois Valley: A Baseline Inventory.” 2013. Maps, Photographs, Illustrations, Bibliography. Pp. 44.
An inventory and history of auto courts of the Illinois Valley in Southwest Oregon, along Highway 199 and Highway 46.  This report discusses the emergence of auto camping in the early 1900s and details the development of auto camps in the Illinois Valley, including camps near the Oregon cities of Selma, Kerby, Cave Junction, and O’Brien, as well as the border between Oregon and northern California. The report features photographs and newspaper clippings advertising the camps. PDF [10.2 MB]

Decker, Edith, Dennis Roler, and Michele Thomas. The Pictorial History of Josephine County. Portland: Pediment Publishing, 1998. Photographs. 128 pages.
A thematic history of Josephine County from early white settlement through the mid-20th century that in turn addresses settlements, the town of Grants Pass and its environs, rivers, railroads, industry, education, recreation, and local celebrations. Each chapter begins with a short history of the topic and is followed by period photographs with discursive captions. Although the book focuses on presenting photographs and does not attribute its resources, it offers a reliable overview of the subjects it addresses.
Douthit, Nathan. Uncertain Encounters: Indians and Whites at Peace and War in Southern Oregon, 1820s-1860s. Corvallis: OSU Press, 2002. Maps, photographs, bibliography, index, notes. 248 pages.
Investigates the Hudson’s Bay Company’s fur-trade relations with southern Oregon Indians, white exploration, early Indian-white encounters, their war, and the ultimate removal of Indians to reservations. Highlights development of middle-ground relationships between Indian women and white men during and after removal.
Hill, Edna May. Josephine County Highlights. Vol 1 Medford: Klocker Printery, 1979. Photos, maps. 128 pages.
Hill, Edna May. Josephine County Highlights. Vol 2 Medford: Klocker Printery, 1980. Photos, maps. 111 pages.
A two volume set that briefly touches on almost every facet of history of Josephine County from settlement through the mid-20th century, including geography and natural history, education, settlement, development, law, religion, health care, community and world events and many other topics. Although the author does not attribute her sources, the books offer a relatively authoritative treatment of the selected topics.
Josephine County. Statewide Inventory of Historic Sites and Buildings. Grants Pass: Josephine County, 1976. Photographs, illustrations.  123 pages. 
Collection of survey documents for individual properties in Josephine County. Entries include address, physical description, and narrative history for each resource. Scan made from poor-quality photocopies. PDF [5.9 MB]
Josephine County Historical Society. A History of Josephine County, Oregon. Grants Pass: Grants Pass Bulletin, 1988. Photos, maps. 304 pages.
A history of Josephine County from early white settlement through the mid 1980s. Topics are addressed in brief paragraphs and include individual family, building, event, community, and business histories in addition to larger sections that more broadly address broader themes such as education, transportation, and religion. The volume does not attribute its sources, but appears to authoritatively address its subject.
Kramer, George. Mining in Southwestern Oregon: A Historic Context Statement.  Report No. 234. Medford: Heritage Research Associates, 1999. Maps, photographs, illustrations, endnotes, bibliography, index. 127 pages.
This report is a history of the importance of the gold mining industry in Jackson, Josephine, Douglas, and Coos Counties, with a specific focus on the Rouge River Valley in Jackson and Josephine Counties. The narrative addresses gold mining in the west and provides a general timeline. The majority of the text is dedicated to a description of mining practices. Other topics include the economic impacts of the gold industry, mining during the Depression, WWII, and since the 1960s, and the mining of other metals and minerals. A brief section identifies types of historic buildings and structures associated with mining and how to evaluate their eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places. PDF  [8.7 MB] 
Kramer, George, and Jill A. Chappel. Historic Resources Survey and Inventory of the Central Business District. Grants Pass: City of Grants Pass, 1992. Notes, bibliography, appendixes, maps. 65 pages.
This study is a history of Grants Pass from settlement in 1851-1942 and identification of historic resources dating to this period. The narrative history is divided into four periods, including settlement, 1851-1882; railroads and industrial growth, 1883 -1895; Progressive Era, 1890-1913; and the “motor age,” 1914-1942. Within these periods, five types of resources, based on use, are identified. Brief discussions on the distribution of historic properties and recommendations on evaluating and preserving the city’s resources are included. PDF [3.5 MB] 

McLane, Larry L., First There Was Twogood: A Pictorial History of Northern Josephine County. Sunny Valley: Sexton Enterprises, 1995. Maps, photos, bibliography. 432 pages.
A history of the miners and pioneer families of northern Josephine County from the mid 1850s through the early twentieth century based primarily on oral interviews, newspaper articles, primary source documents. Each section discusses a different town or place, and sections are arranged thematically and discuss notable persons, mines, or farmsteads among other topics. A good resource for primary documentation.
Pfefferle, Ruth. Golden Days and Pioneer Ways. 2nd ed. Grants Pass: Bulletin Publishing Co., 1995. Photographs. 135 pages.
A history of the Illinois Valley form settlement until the mid-twentieth century based on the recollections of early settlers and their descendants. The book includes local lore and stories as well. Because of the lack of notes or a bibliography it is unclear how reliable the book may be.
Slayter, Mary, Jeanette Dickson, Roy Childers. Patch Work: Memories of the Rogue Valley. Self published, 1977. Illustrations, photos. 62 pages.
A collection of oral histories from residents of the Rouge Valley.  Most chapters center around a story that relates a specific instance or event, and thus may not be useful for broader research efforts.
Taylor, John, Joy Taylor. Old Timer’s Tales of Oregon: An Oral History. Bloomington, Ill.: John Taylor, 2004. Index. 228 pages.
A history of the Grants Pass area through the personal recollections of six residents from childhood through World War II. Topics range from the family and daily life to community events and local history.