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Mitigate the quake!

June 15, 2015
Before - Bad news in a quake!

Before – Bad news in a quake!

As of March 30th, 2014 the Southern Oregon Historical Society (SOHS) finished a yearlong project to protect their shelved artifacts against the ever present threat of a major earthquake. SOHS was first alerted to this danger after a 2010 Conservation Assessment Report recommendation. In 2013, SOHS applied for and won a matching $18,760 Heritage Grant from the Oregon Heritage Commission for this disaster mitigation proposal.

Unable to locate any suitable stabilization system for metal shelving, SOHS staff developed its own system using shelf unit bracing, shelving edge barriers and custom-made heavy-duty bungee restraints. This system provided adequate protection while still allowing easy access to the artifacts. Additionally, artifacts previously placed unboxed on shelves were also inventoried and archivally packed. The safeguards were installed by a small group of staff and volunteers with a minimal amount of carpentry and metal-working skills required.

Being the first artifact stabilization project in the state, the SOHS is proud that its successful plan will serve as a model for other cultural and heritage organizations. – Keoni Diacamos, Southern Oregon Historical Society

After - much better

After – much better

MentorCorps Success at the McLoughlin Memorial Association

March 18, 2015
The Holmes House

The Holmes House

Last year the McLoughlin Memorial Association (MMA) in Oregon City contacted the Heritage Commission about having a MentorCorps volunteer help the organization get a handle on its collections. Over a century ago, MMA organized to save the John McLoughlin House in Oregon City. Although the structure was turned over to the National Park Service in 2003, MMA provides financial support for the house, docents, programming related to McLouglin and his times, and tours at the nearby Holmes House—all with one part-time employee!  Dedicated board members and volunteers clearly believe in their mission, but needed some guidance to tackle collections care issues that had built up over the years. After site visits to both the Holmes House and the Barclay House, where the MMA’s papers are housed, MMA and their mentor crafted an action plan to address the most pressing needs of the organization—organized storage on the cheap at Barclay House and a collections inventory at Holmes House. MMA’s mentor developed a two-year, step-by-step plan of action for creating separate storage and research areas for the MMA papers and held trainings on basic archiving and how to conduct a collections inventory. Shortly after getting the two-year plan, the board president had acquired donated steel shelving and archival boxes, two main components of the plan, and made contact with the local archives program about getting an archives intern. While having a mentor did not mean all MMA’s collections issues magically disappeared, it helped the organization break the projects into doable steps and hopefully gave them the confidence to get its collections inventoried and safely housed.

Do you have a collections project that could use a mentor’s help?  Contact us at and we’ll hook you up with free expert advice!

– post by Sarah Cantor, Director of Archives at Sister of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary and one of our mentors.

Get PReP-ed. Get Paid.

February 6, 2015

Protecting Oregon’s heritage from disasters might seem daunting but the first step is easy. In an emergency it is important to have the names and numbers of relevant first-responders, volunteers and conservators all in one place.The easiest way to organize this vital information is the Pocket Response Plan also known as PReP. The PReP is simple phone tree, it takes 10-20 minutes to fill out now but it can save hours of anguish later.

As an incentive to get your organization’s PReP completed now, Oregon Heritage is offering a $50 cash reward that can be used for collections care or disaster response supplies. This incentive is for publicly accessible collections only.

Click here for a fillable PReP worksheet

Fill out a PReP for your organization now! It’s a small step with a big impact.


This is all there is to a PReP

Keeping the curtains from closing on Oregon’s historic theaters

January 23, 2015

With their large marquees and auditoriums, historic theaters are often the a focal point of Oregon’s historic commercial corridors.  They also boost tourism and stimulate economic activity in their communities.  Thankfully Pacific Power, Travel Oregon and Oregon Main Street are partnering with the University of Oregon’s Community Planning Workshop to form a Historic Theater Preservation Team.  The team is currently traveling across the state conducting a study of our historic theaters.  The end goal is to create a blueprint for the theaters to increase economic vitality and boost tourism throughout the state.

Craig Wiroll, a member of the team , posted about his work the Community Service Workshops blog.  You should check it out along with their video on the project below:

What is your favorite historic theater in Oregon?

Gift Wrap

December 26, 2014

With the gift giving season over it is nice to take a look back on some of the gifts Oregon Heritage has given in the past year.  Though, the gifts we give take a little more work than unwrapping.  In fact, the Preserve Oregon Grant for work on Alderbrook Station netshed did the opposite.  It allowed the owners to close the envelope of their historic building, protecting it for future generations of Oregonians to enjoy.  Read this message from the owners of the site:


Look at that lovely roof!


We have owned Alderbrook Station, the last intact netshed on the lower Columbia River, for over 10 years.  The roof had always leaked and was getting worse to the point of emergency, but the task to replace it was daunting.  Finding the Preserving Oregon Grant gave us both the financial assistance and support of confidence that we needed to tackle this important project and continue to save the building.  We had to be very smart about how to use the money so that any modifications gave us the most long term weather protection with the least physical change to the appearance and character of the original building.  In addition to repairing leaky portions of the upper torchdown roof, we replaced about 2,700 SF of corrugated roofing with a material that was like-for-like.  We opted to add a plywood substrate as another water barrier and further strengthen the building structurally against the strong winds it must endure.  Finding a compatible fiberglass skylight panel infill was challenging, but we managed to install 4 new skylights in a better configuration than what was existing.  Consequentially, the natural daylight inside the Netshed is a vast improvement and has made working in it much more enjoyable.  It has been a year now since we did this project, and the roof replacement and repair has held up very nicely.  The inside of the Netshed is dry and the interior wood material/structure is protected from rot for many years to come.  Maintaining these old buildings is an arduous and never-ending job, not to mention very expensive.  The Preserving Oregon Grant is a very important resource to us as other financial models do not apply in up-keeping a building that is not a commercial enterprise.  Without this Grant, this project would not have been possible for us.  Thank you! 

The next round of Preserving Oregon Grants is opening in January.  Find out more about the grant at:

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!


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