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Sounds good…

November 17, 2014

If you thought the last excellent heritage project posted on this blog was great then I’m sure this one sounds just as amazing.

In 2013 the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs approached the University of Oregon Libraries for assistance in preserving and improving access to its tribal sound recordings. These recordings are important for the Tribe’s cultural history, governance, language instruction and genealogy.
The Warm Springs Tribe and the UO created a plan with two objectives:

  1. raising public awareness that significant cultural material was at high risk of being lost.
  2. supporting a centralized collection of Warm Springs recordings in a place where tribal members could feel confident that the best cultural and professional practices are being followed.

Using a grant from the Oregon Heritage Commission, the U of O purchased equipment and supplies, installed the equipment and then provided audio preservation training.
The Warm Springs and the U of O jointly created policies and procedures that allow the Warm Springs to control of both the process and the outcomes. These policies make certain that sacred or seasonal songs are listened to only in culturally appropriate situations.
This effort enabled 44 hours of the most endangered recordings of profound cultural significance for the tribe to be preserved and indexed. The recording content includes tribal council meetings conducted in three languages, legends, oral histories and songs.
Because of its exceptional attention to cultural heritage and professional practices won a 2014 Heritage Excellence Award.

Heard of another project that ingeniously protects Oregon’s history? Nominate it for a 2015 Heritage Excellence Award!

Pages from CTWSAudioPresProj_App_Page_2




October 22, 2014
ROLs Dictation Tape Digitization (1)

ROLs Dictation Tape Digitization

How often do you come across an 8-track player?  Almost never?  Ok, how about ROLS audio player?
Yeah, I thought so.

Seven years ago, the State Archives did not have a ROLS audio player either. So when a researcher working on a documentary history about the Beach Bill asked to listen to Legislative audio recordings from the 1967 and 1969 sessions made on proprietary equipment, reference room staff said “sorry, we don’t have the equipment.”
Luckily for Oregonians, the story doesn’t end there. After getting an estimate of more than a quarter million dollars to digitize the Beach Bill and other legislative audio recordings, reference staff began monitoring websites such as Ebay for this equipment. When a ROLS machine became available for sale in 2013 for just $3,000, Archives staff acted quickly to purchase it.
An ingenious fix by reference archivist Austin Schulz that connected the machine’s headphone jack to an audio input on a computer made digital recording of the Beach Bill audio tapes possible. As this digitization took place, Archives staff identified each digital recording with appropriate metadata and imported each recording into the Oregon Records Management Solution. This will enable the audio to be accessible far into the future and lets us access the audio from our home computers.

The Beach Bill is one of the most important pieces of legislation in Oregon’s history.  Due to the ingenuity and perseverance of  few archivists, a record of this important bill has been reclaimed.  This work was so important that Heritage Oregon awarded the 1967 Beach Bill recording project with a Heritage Excellence Award at last year’s Oregon Heritage Conference.

Have you seen another project that ingeniously protects Oregon’s history?  Nominate it for a 2015 Heritage Excellence Award!

The Gilchrist Timber Company Story Online

August 8, 2014
Gilchrist letter

Numerous company-owned towns have dotted the American landscape over the years, but few will have their history as well preserved as the Central Oregon community of Gilchrist.

Thanks to conscientious company employees, a generous private donation and a grant from the Oregon Heritage Program, a complete set of records from the Gilchrist Timber Co. is not only safely secured in the Klamath County Museum, but is also digitally preserved and available online.

The Gilchrist Timber Company was operating in Laurel, Miss., in the early 1900s when the supply of logs began to run out. The company scouted forest resources available in the Northwest, and sent an agent to begin acquiring lands in northern Klamath County in the 1930s. By 1938 the company had acquired about 100,000 acres of forest land, built a sawmill and opened a company-owned town that included the first enclosed shopping mall west of the Mississippi. Other amenities included a school and a movie theater.

Millions of board feet of clear lumber sawn from old-growth pine on the Gilchrist tree farm was shipped out via the company-owned Klamath Northern Railroad for more than 50 years until the family operation closed in 1991.

Letter from Gilchrist

From the Gilchrist Collection

Several boxes of detailed company records were stashed in a crawl space at the World Forestry Center in Portland, where they remained until being transferred to the Klamath County Museum in 2010. Gilchrist native John Driscoll relied heavily on the records as he researched and wrote a book on the history of Gilchrist in 2012. Driscoll also donated $4,000 to the Museum so the records could be scanned.

The museum offered Driscoll’s donation as the match for an Oregon Museum Grant, and used the combined funds to hire high school student Kristen Tyree as a part-time technician. Tyree scanned nearly 20,000 pages of records from the Gilchrist files. Many of those files are available online at:

These records reveal many aspects of the company’s dealings, from building design and acquisition of equipment to rationing of products during World War II and issues involving employees.

Among the more interesting examples of records preserved are a list of employees by seniority date, handwritten notes from job-seekers, and Christmas greetings to wholesale customers of the Gilchrist Timber Co.

Contributed by Todd Kepple, Klamath County Museums

Discoveries from…

July 28, 2014

Preserving Oregon’s African American Historic Places Project

Seeking more!

A BIG thank you to those who have already submitted information as part of the Preserving Oregon’s African American Historic Places project. We endeavor to protect and preserve African American historic sites and places from the time period of 1844 to 1984. The information received speaks volume about the richness and depth of Oregon’s African American history and demonstrates that there is substantive physical evidence of the life and tales of Oregon’s African American pioneers.

Black pioneers cemetery burial information comprises the majority of the data collected to date. Two Civil War Veterans, Louis Napoleon and John W. Jackson, of Westport and North Salem, respectively were among 180,000 African American soldiers who fought for the Union. Pioneer Louis Napoleon retired in Oregon and worked as a hired hand for the West family. He became one of the founders of Westport Cemetery where he is buried. John W. Jackson served with the 5th United States Colored Calvary (USCC) and he is buried in the historic Hayesville Pioneer Cemetery in North Salem, Oregon. Another burial submission commemorates the life of Adam Augustus Waterford, who came to Portland with his parents in 1855. Waterford, hired as Portland’s first Black Fireman, possibly in the 1890s, is buried in the historic Lone Fir Cemetery.

Burger Barn, 1974

Burger Barn, 1974

Documentation of historic buildings include George Fletcher’s, WWI veteran and 1911 Pendleton rodeo champion, cabin in Pendleton. A 114 year old commercial building located in Portland, commonly known as the Burger Barn and was the site of the infamous Possum incident in 1981. In 1906, the same building functioned as the family residence of Kathryn Gray, a Black suffrage leader. Another historic site is the airbase located in Pendleton where 555th (Triple Nickles) Parachute Infantry Battalion, the nation’s first all Black parachute infantry test platoon, company and battalion, were secretly sent to become military smokejumpers.

Please share your information! You may submit your information online at Questions? Email Kim Moreland, Project Coordinator, Oregon Black Pioneers at Or Kuri Gill, Grant and Outreach Manager, Oregon Heritage at

Submitted by Kim Moreland

Community rallied for a community treasure

June 25, 2014
Fossil school gym with asbestos siding.
Fossil school gym completed.

Fossil school gym completed.

A project to restore the exterior of the historic Fossil Grade School Gym, has been completed, with funding from the Oregon Community Foundation, the Kinsman Foundation, the Bank of Eastern Oregon, the National Park Service through the State Historic Preservation Office, and numerous private donations.  The gym was built as a WPA project in 1936, and is an outstanding example of architecture from that period.


Exposed historic siding following the removal of the asbestos.

Exposed historic siding following the removal of the asbestos.

The preservation effort was motivated in part by the need to deal with old asbestos siding and lead-based paint.  The gym is still in use daily, by grade school kids, and it was important to handle these issues.  Once an abatement firm dealt with these, much of the remaining work in painting and restoring the trim, was done by local volunteers.


by Bob Cramer

Fossil School District Education Foundation


Editor’s Note:

This project was completed last year. It is an excellent example of the community coming together for a shared community asset. Being right on the main street and part of the school, it is a significant building both historically and today. The project also included listing the school and gym on the National Register of Historic Places. Initially, the renovation plan included replacing the historic siding, but upon removal of the asbestos, they found it fairly intact. Thanks to the people of Fossil for their great work for Oregon’s history.

Invigorated by Works In Progress

June 11, 2014
Alana in Detroit

National Main Street Conference, Detroit, MI – Works in Progress, May 18-20


As I boarded the plane for the National Main Street Conference in Detroit, many of my friends and family members chuckled when I told them where I was going, which was immediately followed with, “why?” Me, I was excited. Here is a city that is reinventing itself, incorporating the city’s past, present, and future, to create a place where people will want to live, work, and play. In a nutshell, it’s the Main Street Approach for downtown revitalization.

Main Street Conference program

Main Street Conference program


The theme for this year’s conference was “Works in Progress,” which was embodied by the Opening Plenary speaker, Don Rypkema, principal of PlaceEconomics, a Washington, D.C.-based real estate and economic development consulting firm. He emphasized that downtown revitalization is a constant work in progress, and that the success and sustainability of the Main Street Program is because of the foundation of principles that directly tie to a community to its social, economic, political, and physical force of value.


Love from the topiary!

Love from the topiary!

His presentation captured the inner-geek in me when he outlined the principles of New Urbanism (1993) and Smart Growth (1996): urban planning initiatives that are widely recognized, and ones that I studied in college. What I found truly spectacular, though, was the connection he made between these two planning initiatives and the Main Street Approach: they are identical, but the Main Street Approach was first implemented in 1977. What has made the Main Street Approach sustainable over the past three-plus decades is its emphasis on incremental change and ability to adapt and evolve with a community, creating a sense of ownership by the community and a multifunctional, public gathering space for the community.


The workshops I attended echoed the themes of resilience, community involvement, innovation and hard work.


Elizabeth Walton Potter Preservation Scholarship Recipient

Alana Garner

Executive Director

Astoria Downtown Historic District Association

Heritage travelers invading Oregon: are you ready for them?

May 29, 2014

            The summer tourist season has started in most of Oregon, and many of these travelers will be participating in cultural and heritage activities. Some mighcollier museumt even be knocking on your door.

            Mandala Research LLC, one of the nation’s leading tourism research firms, studied these travelers in 2012 at the direction of the Oregon Heritage Commission. The study made some important findings:

            1. 83 percent of leisure travelers in Oregon consider themselves cultural and heritage travelers. That’s five percent higher than the rest of the country.

            2. These cultural heritage travelers will spend more than $1,600 on their trip, or about 50 percent more than the national average. That means tremendous potential for cultural heritage organizations and businesses.

            These two statistics were part of the reason that the Oregon Heritage Commission made tourism and economic development one of the four key areas in the 2014-2019 Oregon Heritage Plan. That emphasis is one impetus for the Oregon Heritage Tourism Workshop that will be offered June 9 in Springfield. Workshop participants will have a highly interactive daylong event that will help them:

            — Learn more about opportunities, market trends, issues and resources for cultural heritage tourism.

            — Understand heritage tourists, their value and needs.

            — Assess your organization’s readiness for visitors.

            — Learn about the anchor draws for heritage tourism, and the regional assets that can complement heritage tourism initiatives.

            — Explore collaborations among heritage organizations, and between heritage organizations and tourism organizations, to tap opportunities for heritage tourism in the region.

            Whether you want to take immediate steps to engage travelers or begin longer-term planning, this workshop is for you. Register now!



Preserving Oregon’s African American Historic Places

May 16, 2014
Cora Cox house

African American Sites and Places Revealed

In honor of Historic Preservation Month the Oregon Black Pioneers, in partnership with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), announces one of our latest projects entitled Preserving Oregon’s African American Historic Places.  Working with community partners we endeavor to protect and preserve African American historic sites and places from the time period of 1844 to 1984.

Amazing Discoveries

The revelation of relatively unknown and/or hidden African American historic sites and places promises to add yet another dimension to Oregon’s rich history. Did you know that an early settlement era, gothic revival style home belonged to Black pioneers Hannah Gorman and Eliza Gorman and is still standing in Corvallis, Oregon? Hannah and her six years old daughter, Eliza came across the Oregon Trail in 1844 with the John Thorp family. In La Grande there is the little-known church, Amazing Grace Fellowship, now known as Boyd Memorial Baptist Church. Constructed in 1920, Amazing Grace Fellowship represents one of the oldest African American Churches in Oregon.

Data Collecting Through Crowdsourcing

This crowdsourcing survey project, first of its in kind, allows the general public to contribute information online that pertains to existing structures with any African American association in their histories AND cemeteries with African American burials. These places can be buildings ANYWHERE in Oregon where African Americans worked, sites where important events happened, or objects created, installed, or inspired by African Americans.

Ultimate Goal: National Register Submission

Our ultimate goal is to identify, evaluate and assist in the submission of national register nominations. We need your help. If you know of any places like this, please share your information! You may submit your information online at . The information will be added to the collection of the Oregon Black Pioneers and the Oregon Historic Sites Database available at

For More Information20140516OBP_Logo
Additional community outreach will take place throughout the duration of this project. If you have any questions about the Survey Project email Kim Moreland, Project Coordinator, Oregon Black Pioneers at Kuri Gills, Grant and Outreach Manager, Oregon Heritage at more information about the Oregon Black Pioneers please visit


By Kim Moreland

Oregon Black Pioneers

Mapping Stories in Deschutes County

May 5, 2014

The Deschutes County Community Development Department (CDD) is involved in a multi-year project to reenergize and rebrand its historic preservation program. As part of that effort,  the CDD recently created an interactive map displaying historic landmarks in Sisters and rural Deschutes County. Using software produced by ESRI, Deschutes County’s Historic Landmark “Story Map” enables viewers to explore a gallery of location-specific landmarks at

Deschutes County’s Historic Landmark “Story Map”

Deschutes County’s Historic Landmarks “Story Map”

You can find historic photos like this of Mckenzie Highway on the new story map.

You can find historic photos like this of Mckenzie Highway on the new story map.

Historic landmarks can be queried based on their regional location or redeeming feature (structure, place, or site). Descriptions are provided for each landmark, including old photographs provided by the Deschutes County Historical Society and new ones taken by volunteer photographers.

CDD benefited from a Certified Local Government grant from the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office, volunteer photographers, the Deschutes County Historical Society, and an intern to customize the site’s content.

Access the Deschutes County Historic Landmark “Story Map” by going to

For more information about this specific project, contact Peter Gutowsky, Principal Planner at or (541)-385-1709.

Access Granted

March 17, 2014

By Carolyn Purcell

Museums and archives have long been challenged to find balance between public access and preservation. Long-term preservation concerns often lead to stringent and restrictive public access policies that can impede the enrichment of the people the museums and libraries serve. Finding a balance that meets the needs of both preservation and access is the ultimate goal.

Photo of the Walfz-Allaway family reunion taken in Hood River in 1955. Images like this are available from the OSU Digital Collections.

Photo of the Walfz-Allaway family reunion taken in Hood River in 1955. Images like this from Wasco County are available from the OSU Digital Collections.

Digital technology has broached the preservation vs. access divide by offering a workable solution: the best preservation actually offers the best access. Digital copies of photographs and documents provide the ability to offer safe off-site storage of virtual copies and have images that can be viewed by anyone at anytime via the internet. This access does not in any way diminish the preservation of the originals.

Two noteworthy collaborative projects in our community in the past few years have offered solutions to long-standing preservation vs. access concerns. Through the assistance of Oregon Heritage Commission and Oregon State University Libraries we now have high-resolution scans of the entire 10,000+ images of the Wasco County Pioneer Association photograph collection and the images are available to everyone on the Oregon State University Digital Collections website.

Another very important resource for not only the community, but for the state and region, is the newspaper collection owned by Eagle Newspapers that has long been stored at The Dalles Chronicle office. This collection of papers dates back to 1864, chronicling the news of eastern Oregon. Realizing how vulnerable the collection was, the publisher began restricting access to it some years ago. Through funding from Oregon Heritage Commission and with the assistance of University of Oregon Libraries, the newspapers have now been re-microfilmed for inclusion in the Oregon Digital Newspaper Library Project. The new, better quality microfilm has been digitized to allow key-word searches and is available to everyone for free!

It is a pleasure working side-by-side with those who hold a passionate interest in Oregon’s cultural heritage. By employing the tools of digital access, heritage preservation is advancing at the velocity of the high speed internet.

Carolyn Purcell is the Executive Director of the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center. Visit the Columbia Gorge Discover Center website at


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