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Heritage Engagement Tools

Oregon Heritage, which includes the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), is committed to finding ways to support organizations doing heritage work across Oregon. We develop statewide plans to guide our work and partner with organizations and agencies on plan initiatiatives. We also are ocmmitted to providing tools, research, and studies for heritage organizations to use in planning, advocacy, grant writing, and more.

Oregon Heritage & SHPO Plans

The Preservation Plan and the Oregon Heritage Plan are intended to guide heritage efforts statewide and the work of Oregon Heritage.

​The 2018–2023 Oregon Historic Preservation Plan is organized into 10 key issues that emerged from the SHPO's statewide outreach. Each is discussed and associated with one or more of the five approaches to preservation planning: identify, evaluate, designate, treat, and educate. For each issue, a broad goal statement captures the desired outcome, followed by specific objectives for meeting that goal.

The plan is intended to embolden advocates in their chosen roles, to reveal any gaps int he network of services, and to reinforce ways the heritage community can work better together.

2018-2023 Oregon SHPO Preservation Plan

​Prepared by the Heritage Commission, the 2020-2025 Oregon Heritage Plan identifies opportunities to strengthen heritage in the state and lays the foundation for the Commission’s priorities. The plan identifies four goals with corresponding outcomes and measures.

The 2020 Heritage Plan is a call to action for heritage efforts to unite around common goals. The Oregon Heritage Commission invites individuals and organizations to discuss these goals, consider how they align with institutional and regional opportunities, and join the Commission in this work. Together, individual steps will add up to important outcomes for the state resulting in more stories told, more people served, and more sustainable heritage organizations. The Heritage Commission provides grants, incentives, technical assistance, and recognition programs to support this work.

This plan can also be used as a tool for recovery. Use this time of reopening and recovery to reflect on your mission and goals and see if this plan and accompanying Recovery Framework insert can inform, inspire, and integrate within your plans for the future. The Oregon Heritage Commission designed this plan as a tool to guide the work of heritage organizations throughout the state. It is intended as a framework to anchor heritage organizations as critical assets serving their entire community. We hope that it will lead to a strong network of heritage organizations contributing to the fabric of the state.

2020-2025 Oregon Heritage Plan
Oregon Heritage Plan Recovery Framework Insert

2020 Oregon Heritage Plan Tools:

Case Studies

Oregon Heritage periodically publishes case studies of projects and/or entities that leverage several different resources to accomplish their heritage goals. We also highlight projects that have success following a process that could be used as a model for others.

​Case Studies related to Community Heritage Efforts

Case Studies related to Museum Projects


We have several partners that we work with on ongoing or special initiatives. They also have resources that may be useful to heritage organizations such as grants, research resources, and other heritage preservation tools.

Sharing the Value of Heritage Toolkit

This toolkit is an ongoing effort of Oregon Heritage to compile data, resources, and guidance to help heritage groups recognize and communicate the value of their work. The more we articulate heritage values and impacts, the more we strengthen public perception of heritage efforts, expand funding opportunities, and encourage long-term support for Oregon's heritage.
We encourage you to use these resources to create compelling impact statements about your work when you communicate with the public, donors, and community leaders.
Tools will be added on an on-going basis to provide:
  • state and national data
  • resources to collect local and organizational data
  • guidance on how to use these tools
The goal of the Toolkit is to provide current, relevant, and easy-to-use resources your heritage group can adapt to fit your needs. To keep this a dynamic resource, tools, guidance on using each tool, and examples will be added semiannually. Check back often to access useful national resources and original state-level data compiled by Oregon Heritage.

​Value of Heritage Message Platform

Making the connection between your heritage work and its impact on the community is essential for building support and understanding. This guide will help you communicate both what you organization does and why it matters.

  1. Adapt It: Select messages that resonate with your work, and/or use these examples to create your own messages.
  2. Action: Use value messages the next time you need to prepare a testimony, an email, op-ed, press release, speech, or even a social media post.
Cultural Value of Heritage Flyer

Stories are powerful ways to illustrate the cultural impact of your heritage preservation and outreach efforts. The Cultural Value of Heritage flyer is an example of how your organization can pair a message, story, and image to demonstrate cultural value.
  1. Adapt It: Read through the Cultural Value of Heritage Message Platform impact messages (page 3) and think of a story in your work that exemplifies impact. Pair your story with a message and an image to create a flyer. Successful stories may include: 1) an individual's personal story, 2) a connection to your organization's project, 3) a quotation that summarizes the concept in the narrator's own words, 4) an ending that connects to a larger goal.
  2. Action: Distribute your flyer to potential board members, with your annual appeal letter, after a testimony to your city council, or share this flyer with local leaders to spark a conversation about the value and impact of heritage efforts in your community.

Cultural Value of Heritage through Volunteers Messaging

A recent report from the Oregon Heritage Commission highlights the value of heritage organizations from the volunteer perspective. The study showed that volunteers contribute time because of the historic mission of the organizations. It also demostrated that people feel more connected to their comnunities through their volunteer experience. Use this study to promote your organization's value.
  1. Access Tool: Value of Heritage through Volunteers Messaging Platform
  2. Adapt it: Review the report and summary, then review the model messaging platform. Think about how your organization reflects this value point.
  3. Action: Insert your oranization's information and value, then spread the word.

Value of Heritage in Disaster Resilience Messaging Guide

Cultural heritage plays a powerful role in a community's identity through landmarks, historic collections, and intangible heritage. By communicating this value to planners and emergency management professionals, we can ensure historic places and cultural resources are included in local emergency plans, they are protected from disaster, and their role in community disaster recovery is understood.
  1. Access Tool: Value of Heritage in Disaster Resilience Messaging Guide
  2. Adapt it: Review the report and supporting documents commissioned by the Oregon Heritage Commission. Select an opening, impact, and approach message from the examples provided to effectively tailor communications to your intended audience.
  3. Action: Use these tips to develop presentations, brochures, and social media posts that engage and influence decision makers in your community to include heritage resources in disaster planning.

Museums as Economic Engines Report (2017)

Museums play an essential role in cultural and social life across the US. Beyond this cultural impact, the museum sector is also essential to the national economy of the United States. In 2017, the American Alliance of Museums partnered with Oxford Economics to study the museum sector's significant contribution to the US economy. The study examined contribution to the GDP, jobs, and the amount of tax revenue that is generated for all level of government.

  1. Adapt It: Compare the Oregon report and the National Museums as Economic Engines Report to any data you may have about local impact. If local information is not readily available, use the AAM Economic Impact Template to quantify your organization's impact in the community.
  2. Action: Use this report and your community statistics when you speak with decision makers and the public. Consider compiling statistics in a letter you send to the Chamber of Commerce and City Council each year.

​Heritage Vitality Study (2011)
A report commissioned by the Oregon Heritage Commission to identify individual and collective challenges facing Oregon heritage. Proposes comprehensive solutions to these challenges.

Cultural Heritage Travelers in Oregon Report (2012)
A study conducted by Mandala Research LLC with support from the Oregon Heritage Commission, Oregon Cultural Trust, and Travel Oregon to identify the level of awareness of cultural heritage activities in Oregon, perceptions of the cultural heritage assets to the State, willingness to visit, and the economic impact.

National Survey of Heritage Funding and Incentive Programs for Oregon (2017)
A research report intended to identify state, county, and local incentive and funding programs for the broad heritage community in Oregon.  A research report intended to identify state, county, and local incentive and funding programs for the broad heritage community in Oregon.

Cost of Collections Care (2017)
A guide that documents the cost of collections care for museums and other cultural institutions to help organizations plan for collection care costs or use for support in applying for grants or fundraising efforts.

Digital Heritage Collections Survey Summary of Key Findings (2018)
This survey summary outlines how many of the respondents are digitizing collections, how they are made if available digitally, and any interest in collaboration on a local, regional, statewide level in digitization efforts.

The Value of Oregon Heritage Organizaitons' Volunteers: An Oregon Heritage Commission Volunteer Study (2020)
The Value of Oregon Heritage Organizations' Volunteer Study Summary (2020)
This study explores the value of heritage organizations through the volunteer experience. Volunteers support these organizations with hundreds of thousands of hours of time, in turn the experience great community connection.

Value of Heritage in Disaster Resilience Report and Messaging Guide (2021)
A report and messaging guide commissioned by the Oregon Heritage Commission to help heritage professionals and historic property stewards communicate the necessity of heritage-based disaster planning before disaster strikes, as well as the important role heritage can play in community disaster recovery.

Outreach Initiatives, Special Projects, Legislation

Explore our initiatives, projects and legislation information to see what we are working on and how you can get involved.

​Oregon Heritage has worked to document and designate places related to African American History in Oregon for several years. Our work started with a joint outreach and documentation effort with Oregon Black Pioneers. We are now going to develop a Multiple Property Nomination Submission for statewide resources. We will also submit an individual property nomination.

Please share information about properties through our online survey form.

This project is funded in part by the Underrespresented Communities Grant of the National Park Service, Department of the Interior and the Oregon Cultural Trust.

​Oregon State Historic Preservation Office is working with Restore Oregon to document and designate Depression Era historic properties, in particular those related to the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the Public Works Administraiton (PWA). The project will complete a Multiple Property Document Submission for statewide historic resources and a nomination for a Depression Era property. The project is funded in part by the Oregon Cultural Trust.
Please submit information about these property types through our online survey form.

​May is Historic Preservation Month! Oregon Heritage wants to help you celebrate preservation in your community. The following tools are available to you:

  • Send your preservation related events to and we will highlight them online and in the weekly Oregon Heritage News listserv.
  • If you are looking for ideas on what to do during social distancing times, check out this list to get inspired and help with your planning.
  • Join us on May 6 for Part 3 of Oregon Heritage's COVID-19 Commiseration Calls featuring Preservation Month activities that folks have done and lessons learned or ideas on what else to do. Please join us if you have had events and share what worked so that other folks can have a chance to do it in their community.

SB 108 - Makes changes to program for property tax special assessment of historic property.

Contact: Chrissy Curran
Special Assessment Program

​HB 2123 creates a rolling definition of "historic cemetery" as burial place containing the remains of one or more persons who died more than 75 years before the current date.

This bill has passed the legislature and been signed into law by the governor!
Press Release

Contact: Kuri Gill, 503-986-0685
Oregon Historic Cemetery Program

People doing heritage work in Oregon are targeting dentity focused topics. These include documenting, designating and sharing diverse histories and ensuring all people can access them. Here are resources to support this work.

Share places you find with the State Historic Preservation Office. Sumbit information at The information will be added to the Oregon Historic Sites Database and may be used to designate properties to the National Register of Historic Places in the future.

This is a work in progress. Please share suggestions with Kuri Gill.


Northwest Digital Heritage - online access to many archives
Oregon Digital Newspaper Project
Oregon Encyclopedia
Oregon Multicultural Archives
Portland State University Special Collections & Libraries
NPS - Underrepresented Communities Grant

Addressing Racism in Heritage Organizations

Heritage Bulletin 34: Researching Historically Marginalized Communities

Oregon Advocacy Commissions

Four Oregon commissions that advocate for specific communities. Also offers equity-related research and resources.

Black History

January, Martin Luther King, Jr Birthday

February, Black History Month
June, Juneteenth
Oregon Commission on Black Affairs

Oregon Black Pioneers

Maxville Heritage Interpretive Center
African American Civil Rights Grants

Chinese American History

May, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
Oregon Commission on Asian & Pacific Isander Affairs

Portland Chinatown Museum

Kam Wah Chung Site

Oregon Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association

Japanese American History


May, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
February, Day of Rememberance
Oregon Commission on Asian & Pacific Isander Affairs
Japanese American History Museum of Oregon

Four Rivers Cultural Center

History Museum of Hood River County


June, Pride Month
Gay and Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest
Eugene Lesbian Oral History Project
OSU Queer Archives

Hispanic/Latinx History

September, Hispanic Heritage Month
Oregon Commission on Hispanic Affairs
UO Latino Roots

Five Oaks Museum
PCUN History

Diverisity of Heritage: Exploring Oregon's Heritage Resources in Latinx Communities

Oregon's Tribes

October, Indigenous People's Day
November, Native American Heritage Month

The Oregon's federally recognized tribes are sovereign nations and have deep history in Oregon. Each tribal nation is organized differently and it is important to coordinate with them on various levels including tribal government and staff.
Legislative Commission on Indian Services - Find current tribal government and cultural resources contacts here.
Contact tribes directly to work with them regarding collections, interpretation, language, cultural practices, etc. Some have museums, online history, and collections.
Burns Paiute Tribe
Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians
Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Community
Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians
Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation
Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation of Oregon
Coquille Indian Tribe
Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians
Klamath Tribes

Tribes outside of Oregon also have historic ties to lands within the state. If you are near state boundaries, research the appropriate tribes to engage.

Women's History

Commemorations: March, Women's History Month; Suffrage anniversaries
Oregon Commission for Women
Oregon Women's History Consortium
Women's Vote Centennial Initiative

​The Oregon Heritage Commission, State Library of Oregon, and Washington State Library have partnered to launch Northwest Digital Heritage (NWDH), an online platform for Oregon and Washington based libraries, museums, and cultural heritage organizations to digitize and make accessible cultural heritage materials. Northwest Digital Heritage also operates as a service hub of the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), which helps bring these unique and local Northwest collections to a wider audience.

NWDH provides cultural institutions the following services:

  • Metadata “Harvesting.” Records are copied from their home systems, standardized, and then transferred to DPLA.
  • Digital Collection Hosting offers smaller institutions an online platform to host their digitized items including historical documents, photographs, oral-history recordings, and more.
  • Training and Support. Service hub staff, composed of teams at both state libraries and the Oregon Heritage Commission, train cultural heritage organizations to digitize collections, edit and preserve digital files, and catalog material to archival standards.

Visit Northwest Digital Heritage to learn about how to get your heritage archives online.

​Need some help to thank your heritage hero volunteers? We've got you covered!

Volunteer Appreciation Graphic


Feel free to use our "Thank You Volunteers" graphic we created that was inspired by the theme for our 2020 Oregon Heritage Conference, Harness the Power of Heritage! Access the graphic here.

Volunteer Appreciation Language Template - Direct Thank you to Volunteers:

Thanks for being a heritage hero!

Yes, you. You're a hero to us!

It's Volunteer Appreciation Week and we can't say enough how much the time and effort you give helps us succeed. It takes a dedicated team of people who care to keep the doors open, the lights on, and operations moving. Every hour a volunteer sits at the front desk, staffs an event, attends a board meeting, changes a light bulb, writes a grant, repairs whatever thing has most recently broken, calls a donor, or weeds the yard—makes a difference. 

And it's more than that. Your volunteer work supports our community's identity. Heritage organizations like ours help community members remember and learn from the past. They provide spaces for reflection and critical thinking about our future. They make vibrant communities.

Thank you for your contribution to us and the community. Thanks for being our heritage hero!

Volunteer Appreciation Language Template -Social Media Post Template:

It's Volunteer Appreciation Week! Join us in thanking our dedicated volunteers!

Volunteers provided _(total hours)__ hours of service to our organization this year.
Volunteers allowed us to welcome ___(number that pertains to your org)_ school groups/visitors this year.
We're proud of the major projects our volunteers helped us accomplish: ______________.

We couldn't do what we do without our volunteers. Help us thank our heritage heroes in the comments below!  

Volunteer Appreciation Ideas During Social Distancing

  1. Write and mail a thank you letter.
    1. Add a gift.
      1. Lifesavers – “You are a lifesaver!"
      2. Mints – "You mean a mint to us!"
      3. Chocolate Coins – "Your work is solid gold!"
      4. Gummy Bears – "We can't bear to be without you!"
      5. Coffee Packet –" You keep us going! You keep it perky!"
      6. Fortune Cookie – "You are our good fortune!"
  1. Do a drive by and hang a sign at their house.
  2. Share with the world. Tell the number of volunteers and hours of work, and where appropriate and with permission list them individually.
    1. Newsletter announcement
    2. Social media post a thanks
    3. Send a letter to the editor of your local paper
    4. Put a big thank you sign on your window
  3. Have an awards program
    1. Mail the award
    2. Feature individual stories in newsletter and social media
    3. Hold an online ceremony – in formal gear and all to make it fancy!

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