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Digitization standards will aid users

December 16, 2014

2004_microfilm_reader_1117365851If you have ever done research using microfilm (I once heard it described as “God’s torture for historians”), you know the quality of each reel varies. Not until 1979 – several decades after it started being used – were the first microfilming standards adopted.

Fast forward to today. Some of the early digitized content is problematic. Some was digitized with the goal of immediate access using little space. Other has been digitized with preservation in mind, using perhaps lots of electronic space. Some now is being re-digitized because the original work was of poor quality or it is a format that has not proved sustainable.

Many studies have explored the technical side of digitization. Now, with efforts regionally and nationally to create sites that compile digitized material from archives, museums and libraries, standardized minimum digitization standards are being considered.

One set of recommendations drawing interest in Oregon is from the preservation and reformatting section of the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services. In fact, a task force has recommended to Oregon’s Library Services and Technology Act advisory council that it use these ALCTS standards when evaluating grant applications for digitization.

The recommendations cover books, manuscripts, maps, photographs, posters, audio, video and other formats. Are you meeting these standards? What will it take for your organization to meet them? How can the Heritage Commission assist you?

(Kyle Jansson is coordinator of the Oregon Heritage Commission.)

A rising tide for business and heritage in Coos Bay

December 5, 2014
One of the regulars at the historic Egyptian theater in Coos Bay.

One of the regulars at the historic Egyptian theater in Coos Bay.

Representatives of the Oregon Main Street program traveled to Coos Bay this week to undertake a program review of the Coos Bay Downtown Association’s efforts to revitalize the city’s downtown.  The term “Program Review” may sound a little intimidating; but the process is less about critique and more about helpful advice.  The team chatted with business owners, volunteers and even mayor Crystal Shoji about the association’s efforts to improve downtown Coos Bay. The CBDA has a lot to be proud of including the famous Blackberry Arts Festival and one of Oregon’s largest and best farmers’ markets.

The visit culminated in a wrap-up meeting where Oregon Main Street coordinator Sheri Stuart and downtown revitalization expert Cary Tyson offered observations and advice to the Coos Bay Downtown Association board. The team will also generate a report for the group.

Their advice came at no cost to the Coos Bay Downtown Association.  It is one of the many amenities available to communities participating in the Oregon Main Street Network.  To find out more about the Main Street Program in Oregon go to:

Coos bay is definitely on the upswing. Places like the recently rehabilitated Egyptian Theater to the new 7 Devils Brew Pub make Coos Bay an excellent place to stop and visit.  If you need any more reasons to come it happens to be the site of the 2015 Oregon Heritage conference from April 22-24th.  Come and see all great things going on in Coos Bay. For more on the Oregon Heritage Conference go to:

Do you have any favorite places in Coos Bay?


7 Devils Brewpub – one of the many great new restaurants in downtown Coos Bay.


10 Things We’re Thankful for from 2014

November 25, 2014
Publicly Passionate Heritage Fans
We like those ardent Oregon heritage fans that tell the public how important it is to support heritage efforts. There are many who carry out this work, and we can’t list them all. But notable fans in 2014 included Restore Oregon and its efforts to create a historic preservation tax credit, the more than 8,500 donors to the Oregon Cultural Trust, and the 7,389 Crook County residents (83 percent of the electors) who voted to continue using part of their county property tax payments for support of the Bowman Museum in Prineville.

Office of Emergency Management
You have to think ahead to preserve our history. We are thankful for the Oregon Office of Emergency Management for helping our museums, historic sites and archives look ahead and prepare for potential disasters. Big thanks go to all of the organizations that have sought OEM’s advice in the last year or participated in its activities. You can take the first step toward protecting your organization’s collection by creating a Pocket Response Plan (PReP). Learn more about PReP phone trees here

Oregon Traditions
Like any family, Oregon has its annual traditions. The most special of these yearly events, gatherings and parties can be designated as Oregon Heritage Traditions. The Oregon Heritage Tradition designation recognizes events throughout the state that are over 50 years old and represent what it means to be an Oregonian. This year several events joined the ranks of the Oregon Heritage Tradition. They are: The Klamath basin Potato Festival, the Scandinavian Festival, The Wasco County Fair and Rodeo, the Cannon Beach Sandcastle Contest, the Clackamas County Fair and Bend Fourth of July Pet Parade. Make an Oregon Heritage Tradition your family tradition by attending or participating in one of these events next year

New CLGs
The most important work in preservation happens at the local level. Certified Local Governments are those cities and counties in Oregon that have demonstrated a commitment to preservation by passing an ordinance and assigning a government commission on historic preservation. Best of all it makes them eligible for grants to do historic preservation projects or public outreach about heritage in their communities. In 2013 we welcomed Aurora, Pendleton and Newberg into the program; three of Oregon’s most historic towns.

Performing Main Street Communities
Our Performing Main Streets communities are working hard to strengthen, preserve and revitalize their historic downtown commercial districts. They have shown dedication and commitment to maintaining these significant places as vibrant community centers and their work will ensure that Oregon’s downtowns are active for generations to come. Kudos to our Main Oregon’s main street organizations in.

Heritage All-Stars
Oregon Heritage All-Stars are those communities that have made a special effort to build an environment where their heritage shines. These communities meet at least 15 of Oregon Heritage’s 20 criteria, which touch on all aspects of our shared heritage. We are thankful to welcome new Heritage All-Stars; Albany, Cottage Grove, Oregon City, Roseburg and Salem in 2014.

Getting Together
One of the best parts of Thanksgiving is the chance to get together with friends and family and reconnect. For those working with Oregon’s Heritage and developing its local communities this opportunity comes more than once a year. The Oregon Heritage Conference and the Oregon Main Street Conference each provide a chance for volunteers and professionals from across the state to meet, reconnect and learn from one another. Special thanks go out to the McMinnville Downtown Associations and Albany Downtown Association for hosting the 2014 conferences. This year the Heritage Conference will be held in Coos Bay from April 22-24.

We are always looking for opportunities to say “thank you” to the volunteers that make up our MentorCorps. In 2014 this group of expert mentors has assisted dozens of museums and archives across the state with the maintenance and care of their collections. If you have a publicly accessible collection and would like free guidance in its care and protection let us know! We may be able to assign you free assistance from a mentor.

Oregon Century Farms and Ranches
Take a moment this week in between bites of turkey to consider the work that went into each of the morsels on your table. It takes people to cultivate our food and in some cases, families have been perfecting that process for generations. The Oregon Century Farms and Ranches program is a way of honoring that legacy and saying thanks for more than 100 years of keeping us fed and perpetuating the state’s agricultural heritage.

Developing Deeper Partnerships
Oregon Heritage has supported and worked with Oregon Black Pioneers for years. This past year we joined together in a deeper collaboration for both organizations. We are engaging the public to help us find properties related to African Americans in Oregon. The partnership was a natural fit. Our goal is to document and make available on the Oregon Historic Sites Database information about as many properties as possible from around the state. In the long run, we hope to nominate several properties to the National Register of Historic Places. If you know of a property associated with African Americans, as recently as 1984, please submit any information you have to the data collection website.

We have a lot to be thankful for this holiday. What are you thankful for?

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!




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