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People Seek Authentic Community

November 4, 2019

By: Dayton Community Development Association

Our historic courthouse square is the center of downtown Dayton. Six years ago, to capitalize on this asset, Dayton Community Development Association started Friday Nights, a free, family-friendly celebration every Friday night from June through August that includes live musical performances, activities for kids, and a market in the park. The idea was to build community, create a sense of place, and strengthen the local economy by drawing visitors and resident to downtown Dayton.

This is where we met Mary. Mary is a retired banker and life-long resident of Dayton. At age 86 she doesn’t get out of the house as much as she used to, but she loves the Friday Night concert series. When we were getting the program off the ground, she was our guaranteed regular, sitting in a bench in the front row with a smile on her face. She has become a favorite of the kids who like to dance by the band, and the vendors know her by name.

One June we had an incredibly rainy evening and weren’t sure it was worth starting the concert. But, sure enough, there was Mary, in the front row, holding an umbrella, with a smile on her face. Our team quickly upgraded her to a golf umbrella to keep her a bit dryer. Soon one of the food vendors came over and assembled a pop-up tent over Mary’s bench. It didn’t take long before a few other community members emerged from restaurants surrounding the park and joined Mary under the tent. As the rain cleared-up, Mary was at the center of a group of other smiling community members enjoying the music.

Bringing community members together in our historic downtown helps create our vibrant community.

Attendance of Friday Nights has increased steadily over the years. We see local residents who come every week as well as folks who drive in from surrounding communities. When we speak with locals and visitors alike we hear the same thing: people come to Friday Nights because they love the atmosphere and community feel. They like eating ice cream at the shop on the corner and popping into the mercantile to pick up a birthday gift. While they may not know we have 41 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places, they know they like the feeling of where they are. It’s both the people and the place that make Downtown Dayton’s vibrant community. Dayton Community Development Association connects people to downtown, creating a sense of place and community. 

This post is an example of value messaging from the Sharing the Value of Heritage Toolkit. The Value of Heritage Message Platform can help you communicate not only what you do, but why it matters, which helps build support and understanding for Oregon’s heritage.

Northwest’s First Women-Owned and Operated Landscape Architecture Firm

October 28, 2019

By: Bobbie Dolp, Lord and Schryver Conservancy

Elizabeth Lord and Edith Schryver

Amidst the events of 1929 was the opening of the first Northwest all women landscape architecture firm Elizabeth Lord-Edith Schryver in Salem, Oregon.  In their forty years of practice, Lord & Schryver developed plans for over 200 sites, including residential, civic and institutional settings, and ranging from Seattle to Klamath Falls and the Oregon Coast to Walla Walla WA.  Their legacy is very broad; in addition to the landscape architecture component, they were educators, writers, world travelers, civic activists, leaders within their profession, women operating in a man’s world and successful entrepreneurs having started their enterprise in the year of the Crash.

Elizabeth Lord (1887-1976) was a native Salemite whose father served as governor and Supreme Court judge. Her mother, Juliet, was an ardent gardener.  In 1926 Elizabeth enrolled at the Lowthorpe School in Groton MA, a rigorous 3-year curriculum in landscape architecture for women only.

Edith Schryver (1901-1984) grew up in Kingston NY.  She studied at Lowthorpe from 1920-1923 after which she became a prized intern in Ellen Shipman’s New York office.  In 1927 they met on a 3-month tour of European gardens sponsored by Lowthorpe. It was this journey that led Edith to move west in December 1928.  As Edith said, “We were free-swinging career girls, and nobody questioned us.”

While residential design work led to the most numerous commissions, it was their civic and public work (streetscapes and city parks) that remains today as a significant influence on the environment in Salem and the Northwest.  As writers and educators, they traveled the state giving lectures, doing radio shows (early days of KOAC), and teaching at what is now Oregon State University.  They were leaders among their peers; setting high standards,  establishing professional organizations and mentoring young women. 

Gaiety Hollow, the site of their former home, personal garden and studio in Salem is now owned by the Lord &Schryver Conservancy, a non-profit whose mission is to “preserve, interpret and steward the legacy …. for public enrichment.”  Gaiety Hollow is listed in the National Register of Historic Places for it’s significance related to women’s history. Restoration of the gardens, development of educational programs and workshops, and opening the gardens to the public are on-going activities.  Please check our website; www.lordschryver.org to learn more. 

The year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the Women’s Vote. Do you know of other important Oregon places associated with women’s history? These may be residences, business places, social gathering spaces, sites for suffrage and women’s rights efforts, burial sites, campuses, etc… Please provide all information and documentation you can to inform our Historic Sites Database.

Access + Outreach: A Multi-Level Approach

October 14, 2019

By Maria Cunningham, Head of Special Collections and Archives at Reed College

Access and Outreach are fundamental principles of the library profession. At Reed Special Collections and Archives (RSCA), access and outreach are at the foundation of our service model. We want patrons to feel like they belong in the space and that they have some sense of ownership over the materials. To achieve this goal, we engage in what we call “multi-level outreach.” Multi-level outreach consists of the programs and services that promote the collection as well as the internal work that ensures the collection is accessible, easily searchable, and usable. There are several ways we have approached this over the last couple years but our main focus has been to increase access and to do more outreach to highlight the collections.

RSCA is located on Lower level 2 in the library. There were no signs telling patrons how to get to us, and the door was always closed. One of the first things we did was to purchase a sandwich board sign that showed our hours and pointed the way downstairs. Next we opened the door to make it more welcoming and reconfigured the reading room to give patrons more space.

The internal work done to make the collection more accessible took a lot more work. First we started with much needed webpage redesign. To make our collections searchable to patrons, we migrated our PDF finding aids into ArchivesSpace. As a result, patrons can now search all of our archival holdings through our (much clearer!) website.  

Thanks to our new sign, we received a lot of walk-in visitors who were curious about what is in the collection. We selected some of our most well-known items and created a “Fun Shelf” that we can quickly pull from to show as examples. To reach a wider audience outside of Reed, we created an Instagram account (@reedspecialcollections) to showcase the collection and advertise our events. To reach out to student donors, we set up an information table in the dining hall where we handed out treats and talked to students about how they can donate their materials to archives. 

All of these activities involved a lot of planning, meetings, and setbacks but the results have been great. We are getting more classes, students, and community members using RSCA. We have a lot more planned and are excited to reach out to new audiences!

Get Involved with Oregon Archaeology

October 3, 2019

By: John Pouley, Assistant State Archaeologist, Oregon SHPO

October is Archaeology Month, which is a great time for everyone to get involved with archaeology! Each year, Oregon celebrates with a themed poster and a calendar of archaeology events. This year’s theme, fittingly, is Public Archaeology. If you have ever wanted to learn more about archaeology, attend talks by professional archaeologists, visit a museum with archaeological collections, or even volunteer for an archaeological project, there may be an opportunity closer than you think!

The 2019 Oregon Archaeology Month poster includes images of public participants who have had the opportunity to work with professional archaeologists across the state. Some were able to learn about important events and activities of the past by participating in archaeological studies at the very places where the events and activities occurred. Others interacted with professional archaeologists at public events. From a military fort on the coast to Chinese mining in eastern Oregon, to the annual Portland State University sponsored Archaeology Roadshow, the opportunities allowed anyone with an interest in archaeology to learn more.

Learning to use the atlatl

Archaeology is the study of the past, based on relationships between places and associated artifacts that help tell a story. Archaeologists collect information using a variety of archival references, field methods, lab analyses, ethnographic and historic sources, contemporary interviews, contextual relationships – pretty much any available information source, to help learn as much as possible about these past activities, events, and associated places.

The current body of archaeological research supports a rich vibrant picture of the people that have lived within Oregon’s state boundaries from the end of the last Ice Age, over 14,000 years ago, up to the more recent past. Many current Oregonians are direct descendants of these people, from those here since time immemorial, to Chinese emigrants of the latter 1800s, Oregon Trail trekkers, early military fort soldiers and officers, settlers, etc. Archaeological sites and information on their location are protected under state law. Due to these necessary protections, archaeologists try to find creative ways to involve the public so they can learn about the incredible and ancient history of what we now call Oregon. If you are interested in learning more, please check out our Calendar of Archaeology Events or visit Oregon State Historic Preservation Office’s Archaeological Services web page.

How will you commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Women’s Vote?

September 26, 2019

The year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, which placed women’s voting rights in the United States Constitution. Our colleagues at the Oregon Women’s History Consortium put together a list of ways individuals and groups from around the country are planning to commemorate the centenary. We’ve added a few thoughts and encourage you to share your plans.

Image from Library of Congress
Note the women suffrage colors in the logo!
  • Share a photo or fact about a local woman leader in each of your 2020 newsletters.
  • Create a mini-exhibit in your local library, city hall, shopping center, or local school.
  • Recreate a historical event.
  • Hold a history talk at your local library.
  • Gather all the current and former elected women officials from your town, city, or county at an important site in your area for a commemorative photo.
  • Have local groups, schools, and organizations write a proclamation about the anniversary as a way to educate about this important history, and help commemorate this once in a century anniversary. You can find excellent resources to use in writing a proclamation at the Oregon Women’s History Consortium and at the Century of Action websites. 
  • Plant purple, yellow, and white flowers–American women suffrage colors–to remind anyone who views them of this significant anniversary.
  • Put an Oregon suffragist, anti-suffragist, or organization on the National Votes for Women Trail Map!
  • Submit information on places associated with women in Oregon History to the Oregon Historic Sites Database.
  • Skydive to spread the word! (Okay, maybe just watch the Women’s Skydiving Network recite the 19th amendment while jumping out of a plane. But remember, the sky’s the limit!)

As you plan for 2020, keep these important dates in mind:

  • January 14, 2020 is the date Oregon ratified the 19th Amendment
  • March is Women’s History Month
  • August 26, 2020 is Women’s Equality Day

A special thanks to the Oregon Women’s History Consortium who published original content in this article on August 21, 2019, and allowed us to add ideas. Please help us generate more ideas in the comments below. For additional ideas on how to research women’s history in your community, visit Oregonheritage.org and refer to our Centennial Vote Planning Guide.

Building Institutional Awareness of Why Telling Diverse Stories Matters

September 16, 2019

Written by: Michelle SeilerGodfrey, Program Development Manager at the High Desert Museum

From using a crosscut saw to building a wagon, the High Desert Museum’s popular annual social studies field trip brings Oregon’s history to life for fourth-grade students. For years, the Museum has hosted students from all over the state during a one-week period to explore history through living history characters, hands-on activities and other unique experiences. Known until recently as Frontier Days, this program had mostly told this history from the singular perspective of Anglo-Europeans.

In 2017, we received a grant from the Oregon Heritage Commission to transform this experience into an opportunity to increase student awareness of the diverse perspectives and cultures that make up Oregon’s history. However, we quickly discovered that this program redesign was not a simple process. It involved challenging questions and internal changes to our approach to education programs.

At the same time as the Oregon Heritage Commission grant, the Museum was invited to participate in the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services-funded Cultural Competency Learning Institute. This institute brings together museums from across the nation to advance diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion (DEAI) within their institutions. Through this institute, we learned the value of working internally to build board, staff and volunteer awareness of and investment in DEAI in conjunction with telling diverse stories through our programs. During this process, our Oregon Heritage Commission-funded redesign project served as a concrete example for increasing internal understanding of why telling diverse stories matters.

Video shoot of the Leticia Carson story now incorporated in the Oregon Encounters program

In April 2019, our redesigned program, now called Oregon Encounters, included the stories of American Indians, African Americans, Native Hawaiians and Latinx populations. The response from teachers and students was overwhelmingly positive. One student commented: “In movies, it is always white settlers, but at Oregon Encounters, I learned that so much diversity is embedded in Oregon’s history.”

In addition, we are continuing to build on these experiences to re-examine other programs. For example, we recently received a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to support Creating Together—a project that is bringing together Native experts to reinterpret our permanent exhibition on Plateau Indians. Alongside this project, we are launching a yearlong training series that will include speakers and group readings to expand staff awareness of Native perspectives. With a more culturally competent staff, we will be able to more meaningfully incorporate Native perspectives throughout our exhibitions and programs and not limit them to a single exhibition.

As museums and heritage centers diversify the stories we tell, it is equally important to build awareness and understanding within our institutions. Although this internal work is challenging and there are no road maps, it is essential to ensuring we move beyond one-time programs and meaningfully commit to DEAI.

New Walking Tour Aligns with Mission

September 6, 2019

By: Judy Margles, Oregon Jewish Museum & Center for Holocaust Education

Thanks to support from the Oregon Heritage Commission, the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education (OJMCHE) recently evaluated our walking tour of the Jewish neighborhood in South Portland, the area that had been settled at the turn of the twentieth century by Russian and Eastern European immigrants. Our plan was to develop a new tour to align it with a part of our mission – to foster intercultural conversation – adopted in 2014 when the Oregon Jewish Museum merged with the Oregon Holocaust Resource Center. After an extensive interpretive planning process with staff and volunteers, we created a revised walking tour that includes stories and sites exploring the area’s historic, cultural, ethnic and racial dynamics, making links between Jews and other communities affected by urban development over the past century.

Our participants still tour South Portland by walking through streets and listening to stories about the century old neighborhood. But we now include stories of Portland’s broader social justice movements such as women’s rights, civil rights and LGBT rights. We still discuss the social and physical effects of Portland’s first urban renewal project and we also now consider it within the city’s racial context. One of our favorite discoveries was the Psychedelic Supermarket, which opened in 1967. It not only served the hippies of the neighborhood but also functioned as one of the first couch surfing networks in the community

This project is a good example of the fallacy of the adage, “If it ain’t broken, why fix it?” All of us should take time to revisit our successful programs as there is always room to learn and grow. OJMCHE has undergone transformative change in the past three years with the move to our permanent home in Portland’s NW Park Blocks. We now focus on teaching the universal lessons of the Holocaust, challenging our visitors to resist indifference and discrimination and to envision a just and inclusive world. OJMCHE has increasingly evolved into a hub for access to powerful educational resources about social justice. The enhanced walking tour now aligns with our mission and will remain part of the museum’s core programs . . . until such a time where we will once again reassess and revamp to make certain that we remain current with the times and with our mission.

Hattie Redmond and the Oregon State University Hattie Redmond Women and Gender Center

August 13, 2019

Written by: Natalia Fernández, Curator of the Oregon Multicultural Archives and OSU Queer Archives, and Whitney Archer, Associate Director of OSU’s Diversity & Cultural Engagement and Center Director of the Hattie Redmond Women and Gender Center

Co-Authors’ Note: This post uses the word ‘colored’ as it was used in the names of organizations of the time period, however, the authors acknowledge it is a dated term.

Hattie Redmond, Courtesy Oregon Historical Society Research Library, bb09628

Harriet “Hattie” Redmond was an Oregon suffragist who lived in Portland and the Oregon State University Hattie Redmond Women and Gender Center is named in her honor. Born in Missouri in 1862 as the daughter of emancipated slaves, she and her family moved to Oregon and settled in Portland by 1880. During the 1912 women’s suffrage campaign in Oregon, Redmond became a leader within the suffragist community. As a black woman living in a state with black exclusion laws in its constitution, the right to vote was especially important to Redmond. She worked with the Oregon Colored Women’s Council (later named the Oregon Colored Women’s Club) and the Portland YWCA; and she served as the Colored Women’s Equal Suffrage Association’s first secretary and later, as its president. As a community organizer, Redmond organized meetings and held educational conferences on women’s suffrage at Mt. Olivet Baptist Church, the first established Black Baptist church in the state, and she served on the State Central Campaign Committee. After the success of the women’s suffrage campaign, Redmond registered to vote in April 1913. Due to limited job opportunities for Black women in Portland, during her life, Redmond worked as a hairdresser, department store cleaner, and a domestic servant. She worked as a janitor for Oregon’s U.S. District Court for twenty-nine years until her retirement in 1939. Redmond passed away at the age of ninety in 1952. Her headstone at Lone Fir Pioneer Cemetery honors Redmond’s life and work with the inscription “Black American Suffragist.”

Hattie Redmond Women & Gender Center Staff

In the summer of 2018, the OSU Women’s Center, in a building officially named Benton Annex, was renamed the Hattie Redmond Women and Gender Center. The name change was the result of student activism that called attention to building namesakes with racist or otherwise exclusionary views. In the tradition of Hattie Redmond, the student activists were community organizers using their voices for social change.  

Hattie Redmond Women and Gender Center

As we think about the ways black women and other women of color were excluded and pushed to the margins of the suffrage movement, we think about the ways feminism centers whiteness and continues to fail Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color. University women’s centers are often coded as white because ‘woman’ is coded as white, and research indicates that many women of color students do not feel adequately supported by the feminisms promoted within campus-based women’s centers. As such, it is important for us to acknowledge that having a Black woman’s name on our building does not erase those realities. We strive to actively center women of color feminisms and to apply an intersectional lens to the work we do but we must continue to do better. To us, Hattie Redmond is much more than a building name. The staff feel proud to be connected with such a powerful example of resistance and resilience. Her life and work embody the spirit of AYA, which is the Adinkra symbol for ‘fern’ and the name of the Womxn of Color initiative housed at center. The fern is a hardy plant that can grow in difficult places. It represents endurance, resourcefulness, courage, and will to persist even when adverse circumstances make it difficult. Hattie Redmond cultivated community and found ways to thrive as she battled against racism and sexism in her fight for suffrage.

As we commemorate the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, we encourage others to learn the history of Oregon’s women’s suffrage – there are so many incredible stories of resistance and collaboration. While not perfect nor completely inclusive, there is a rich history of various communities and women of different backgrounds coming together for a common cause to campaign for the right to vote. For example, in addition to the Colored Women’s Equal Suffrage Association, Chinese American women in Portland created the Chinese American Equal Suffrage Society. These women gave speeches, networked, and rallied their communities together in order to ensure equality not only for themselves, but also for future generations – for us. The more that we can recognize, honor, and celebrate the accomplishments of these women, the more empowered our communities will be today. 

References and Resources for Further Reading

The year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the Women’s Vote. To encourage heritage organizations to start planning for the Centennial, Oregon Heritage is sharing stories of notable women in Oregon’s history. For ideas on how to research women’s history in your community, visit Oregonheritage.org and refer to our Centennial Vote Planning Guide.

Engaging the Public with Collections Work

July 30, 2019

By Jenna Barganski, Museum Manager, Clackamas County Historical Society

The Stevens-Crawford Heritage House (SCHH) is an American Foursquare home built in Oregon City in 1908 by prominent real estate investors Harley Stevens and his wife, Mary Elizabeth. It remained in the family until 1968 when their daughter, Mertie Stevens, passed away and left the house and all of its contents to the Clackamas County Historical Society (CCHS). Unfortunately due to staff shortages, unplanned museum closures, and an extremely tight annual budget, the contents in the attic and basement spaces were improperly stored for decades.

 In August 2018, CCHS received an $8,000 Oregon Museums Grant award through the Oregon Heritage Commission. The funds were used to purchase archival boxes, shelving and other materials to vastly improve the storage conditions in these rooms. Additionally, a class of public history students from Portland State University assisted with unpacking and properly preserving several trunks of textiles and other artifacts found in the SCHH attic. Their outside perspectives shed a harsh light on the negative aspects of the house. Comments like, “these rooms look like an estate sale,” or questions of “why this place matters,” drove the point that SCHH was not a historically relevant destination and its abstract story required major revision. Through this process the students were able to gain firsthand experience with some of the common issues that plague heritage sites, and the staff and volunteers at CCHS received the necessary kick in the right direction. 

Additionally, the students made videos, took photographs and wrote social media posts to promote the project. They worked to connect the contents of things found in the attic with local historical events and customs. Their insights into what objects held the most meaning helped shape our thoughts on future exhibits and programming. Furthermore, because of this boost in visibility, SCHH visitorship has significantly increased since the house reopened to the public in April 2019. 

As a result of this reorganization, CCHS was able to move forward with renovating and reinterpreting the entire house to focus on the Progressive Era and how various innovations, inventions and events reshaped the community. 

Now that SCHH has received a much needed facelift, CCHS desires to share the house with visitors through new avenues. The goal of CCHS’s 2019/2020 Dwelling in the Past campaign is to raise the necessary funds to build an ADA accessible restroom and ramp and open the heritage house as a meeting space and event venue. A special thanks to the Oregon Heritage Commission for making this dream a foreseeable reality!  

An Instrumental Woman in Crater Lake National Park’s History

July 17, 2019

By Steve Mark, National Parks Service Historian

Marian B. Towne, Photo from Southern Oregon Historical Society

It is rare that national parks like Crater Lake can feature among the milestones in social history, rather than highlighting the past in reference to the environmental or scientific areas. Yet the first woman elected to the Oregon Legislature played a key role in transferring the park from state to exclusively federal jurisdiction. It started with voters in the eighth representative district (Jackson County) electing Marian B. Towne (1880-1966) on November 3, 1914, for the legislative session to begin two months later.

Women won the right to vote in Oregon by referendum on the sixth try, in 1912. Female candidates could thus run for seats in the legislature for the first time in 1914, but only Towne prevailed during the general election that November. One of only four Democrats in the 60-member Oregon House of Representatives for the 1915 session, Towne delivered the first speech ever made by a female member of the legislature on January 19 of that year. She made it to introduce HB 48, a bill aimed at the state ceding “military and police jurisdiction” over Crater Lake National Park. This bill passed unanimously in the house and received similar action in the state senate, so that the governor could sign the legislation just six says later. She even received a letter of thanks from the Secretary of the Interior Franklin Lane, as part of accomplishing the first step in having the federal government assume exclusive jurisdiction at Crater Lake.

A much longer bill introduced in the federal House of Representatives by Congressman Nicholas J. Sinnott was aimed at better spelling out what accepting exclusive jurisdiction meant and took another 18 months to become law. The President signed this legislation on August 21, 1916- just four days before a bill aimed at establishing a National Park Service became law. Meanwhile, Towne served just one term in the Oregon Legislature and could not repeat the success experienced with her first bill. After losing her seat during the 1916 general election, she enlisted in the United States Naval Reserve. This occurred at a time when women had not previously been allowed to serve as part of the armed forces in any capacity expect nursing. Upon her discharge in June 1920, Towne embarked on a long career as a civil servant in Washington State and California, ending her days at the family house in the Rogue Valley.

The year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the Women’s Vote. To encourage heritage organizations to start planning for the Centennial, Oregon Heritage is sharing stories of notable women in Oregon’s history. This article was originally published under the title “More than One Centennial” in the National Parks Service employee newsletter “Crater Lake Currents,” in December 15, 2015. For ideas on how to research women’s history in your community, visit Oregonheritage.org and refer to our Centennial Vote Planning Guide.