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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.

Molalla Family Teams-up to Research their Connection to the Adams Cemetery

July 9, 2019

By Melissa Alberda (granddaughter) & Betty Dicken Guild (grandmother)

The Adams Cemetery in Molalla, Oregon has been a touchstone for generations in our family.  We, grandmother and granddaughter, both grew up knowing that our ancestors, WD and Lucina Adams, donated the land that became Adams Cemetery.  However, we found ourselves without any proof.  We went hunting.

Betty’s collection of memorabilia provided us with our initial clues.  The Genealogical Forum of Oregon was helpful for identifying the original land claims.  We found that the BLM website contains invaluable surveys and patents.  We made trips to the Clackamas County Recording Office to track down the deeds.  

Many of the clues that would inform our next steps came through the University of Oregon’s collection of newspapers.  While they do not have the Molalla Pioneer Newspaper available online, they sent microfilm to our library.  Our library also obtained Sanborn Fire Maps on microfilm from Portland State University.  We kept the Molalla Area Historical Society in the loop as our research project progressed.  When they received some amazing digital images of early minutes from what would become the Adams Cemetery Association, they contacted us because they knew of our interest. 

We learned that WD and Lucina purchased a large swath of land in 1870 and that the portion that would become the cemetery was already the resting place for three souls.  They, too, are our ancestors.  The Adams family informally allowed burials for fifteen years.  In 1885 they formally conveyed land for the purposes of burials.  In 1897, the bylaws were written for what would become the Adams Cemetery Association.  They priced plots between $2 and $5 and all monies, gifts and donations would be used for the benefit of the cemetery.  As the town’s need grew, the Adams family set aside more land in 1909 and 1921.  The cemetery has continued to grow in the over 150 years since the first burial, and at each step, it has been the community of Molalla that has lovingly protected the land.

For Betty, the most interesting discovery we made was that WD Adams was Molalla’s first undertaker.  We found a notation in her father’s journal, which led us to a lot of public evidence to support the discovery.  For Melissa, the most fascinating discovery was that she and her grandma go about solving a mystery much the same way.  The gap in our generations may have provided different tools in our kits, but we made an excellent team.  We will both hold onto the experience as much as the knowledge we learned.  If anyone is thinking about tackling a family mystery, we certainly recommend teaming up with a member of the family.  It makes it a lot more fun!

A Library Basement can be a “Magical Place”

June 26, 2019

By Jimmy Pearson, Astoria Public Library

It is my honor to serve as the 14th City Librarian and caretaker of 170 years of regional history.  The basement of the Astoria Public Library is a magical place containing many unique items informing us of the story of our city, county, and region.  The archives began in 1941 when new director Glen Buch recommended collecting local history, possibly naming it Astoriana. 

In 2017, an Oregon Heritage grant allowed us to hire archivist Rachael Woody to begin the task of organizing this vast and unique collection. Together with local historian John Goodenberger and a team of volunteers, the archives are one step closer to greater access and preservation.

Volunteers were recruited by engaging people at the circulation desk, showing them some of the items I keep in my office, and tailoring how I talked to each audience I approached for assistance. For example, when I presented to the Rotary Club, I knew they had purchased our first edition set of the Biddle/Allen edition of the Lewis & Clark journals in the 70s and spoke to them about that. When I gave a basement tour to our Writers group , I highlighted the first edition copies of classics we have including Roughing It by Mark Twain.  When I presented to City Council, I mentioned the 1896 ordinances we care for. 

I find any way I can to highlight our unique collection to the public. A cool way to engage families is to show them some of the items I have selected and maintain within my office. These items form the nucleus of one pillar of my legacy and are appropriately named the Director’s Collection.  I will pass the collection to my predecessor with the hopes they do the same. Kids like seeing our oldest book, which is a bible from Germany dated 1728. I have been informed by a parent a couple of months later that it was the topic of conversation at the dinner table that night. Free advertising! I have also used items from the collection by posting them on our Face Book page.

Over the course of this grant, we organized and developed a plan for the placement, storage, and care of the archival collection at the Astoria Public Library. We now look forward to next steps in caring for our unique collection. Thank you to all who made this happen, especially to Kuri Gill, as I fumbled my way through my first grant administration.

Project Update 8/7/19: Due to the work they accomplished through the Oregon Heritage Grant, the Astoria Public Library was able to apply for and receive a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

Archaeological Research in Urban Neighborhoods: Searching for the First Fort Vancouver

June 10, 2019

Written by: Amy Clearman, SHPO Archaeology Intern

Archaeological research is often hidden from public view, leading to misconceptions about archaeology and an underappreciation for the relevancy of this research to non-archaeologists. Over the last few decades, archaeologists have increasingly called for sharing our work with the public and even including community members as partners in archaeological research.

As a graduate student in archaeology at Portland State University, I undertook a thesis project that partnered heavily with community members. My work took place in two residential neighborhoods in Vancouver, Washington where I worked with homeowners to archaeologically excavate in their backyards. The intent was to search for the material remains of the first Fort Vancouver built in 1825, located somewhere on the bluff above the Columbia River about one mile northeast of Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, a commemoration of the second (1829) Fort Vancouver.

Twelve homeowners volunteered to allow excavation in their yards, and with these residents I was able to dig 32 small holes to search for artifacts. I discovered over 500 artifacts, which were a mixture of modern and historic items, some dating as far back as the early-nineteenth century. While I did not find evidence of the exact location of the first fort, a combination of archaeological, documentary, and ethnographic research resulted in discovering the most likely area where the fort existed.

In addition to archaeological discoveries, this project explored ways of making archaeology and heritage personally relevant to residents in the project neighborhoods and in the wider community. I found that archaeology has the power to spark people’s imaginations in a way that nothing else can. The act of unearthing objects used and discarded by people in the past significantly affected homeowner’s feelings about the place where they live, work, and play, and by the end of the project most residents expressed feeling more attached to and more proud of their neighborhood as a site of heritage. These residents are now wondering what other stories are buried under the ground about the those who have occupied the landscape over time, and I am so pleased that this project has helped pique curiosity about archaeology, heritage, and past people not only in these residents but the wider community, as well.

Amy Clearman served as the State Historic Preservation Office archaeology intern for spring 2019. She is a graduate student at Portland State University studying historical archaeology, focusing on public archaeology and the early history of Fort Vancouver in Vancouver, Washington. Visit FirstFortVancouver.com to find out more about her thesis project.

Suffragettes – They Weren’t All Home Grown

May 13, 2019

When women have had no direct influence whatsoever on legislation, this has resulted in their being subject to all the laws created by men, no matter how difficult and inconvenient for women these laws have been.

– Maria Raunio, 1872-1911

Written by: Mike Leamy, Greenwood Cemetery & Oregon Commission on Historic Cemeteries

Maria Raunio found her final resting place in Greenwood Cemetery near Astoria, Oregon. Her simple gravestone bears only her name and the numeric parentheses that enclose her brief life… and the hammer and sickle she would not have claimed.

Born in Finland in 1872, she was the eldest of thirteen children. Her working family was poor, yet Maria and all of her siblings were able to complete an elementary education. She married and bore seven sons. Her husband emigrated to the United States, but was killed in a mining accident the same year. Widowed, Maria left her children with her parents, and sought work that would eventually provide for her family, unwilling to depend on poor relief to feed herself and her small children.

Shaped by conflicting and sometimes chaotic ideas of the era, Maria grew to be an activist for change in her adult years. She clerked for one change-focused newspaper in Finland, then became editor of another. Depending on the lens through which she was viewed, she was an activist, an agitator, a lecturer. Aligning herself with the Social Democratic Party, she became their most effective orator. She rode the wave of change she helped generate, being elected in the first suffrage-fueled  election as one of nineteen women to be seated in the Finnish Parliament, but, because she refused to march in step with the party in voting on issues, she was not put on the ballot for a second term.

Excluded from Parliament, Maria followed her late husband to the United States, which was also being swept by efforts for social change, with a variety of workers movements, ranging from unionist to socialist to communist, as well as groups focused on women’s issues and suffrage. Maria Raunio’s background blended with the social simmering of the times. She served first as a lecturer for the American-Finnish Socialist Organization, and later became active in workers’ issues, and finally became the editor of the first Finnish-American feminist paper being published in Astoria, a community with a heavy Finnish flavor.

Her goal had always been to earn enough to send for her five surviving children. After only about a year in the United States, she died in Astoria, under circumstances that have never been clarified. Was her death accidental?

A century later, Maria Raunio’s descendants came to Greenwood Cemetery to visit her grave. They shared that the grandfather withheld Maria’s many letters to her children, and told them that their mother had abandoned them. The descendants were shocked at the hammer and sickle on her gravestone, saying, “She was not a communist!”

The year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the Women’s Vote. Start planning programs and events now for your community now! For ideas on how to research suffrage and women’s history in your community, visit Oregonheritage.org and refer to our Centennial Vote Planning Guide.

The Difference a Word Makes

April 18, 2019

Written by: Oregon Heritage Commissioners Todd Kepple & Chelsea Rose

The change of a single word in a law on the books in Oregon will bring about a significant change for the Oregon Heritage Commission, a citizen panel that oversees efforts to preserve and promote the state’s rich history.

The change comes about after the Commission members were asked in 2017 to designate the 175th anniversary of the Oregon Trail as a statewide celebration. This is a typical duty of the Commission. Statute 358.595 gives the Oregon Commission the authority to coordinate statewide anniversaries, and in the past the Commission has declared a handful of celebrations including the Centennial of Women’s Suffrage in Oregon and the Sesquicentennial of the Treaty with the Tribes of Middle Oregon. But in discussing the request to designate the 175th anniversary of the Oregon Trail, the Heritage Commission quickly recognized a limitation in the language set out in statute.

Previous declarations of statewide anniversary celebrations.

Statue 358.595 specifically indicates the Commission coordinates statewide “celebrations.” The Heritage Commission makes a concerted effort to include all Oregon voices in the heritage efforts it supports, and commission members felt some aspects of the Trail’s history would not be cause for celebration among all residents of Oregon. The Commission determined that while the event is historically significant and worthy of recognition, the long-lasting impact the Oregon Trail has had on Tribes is an aspect of the event that cannot be deemed a celebration. Therefore, the Commission voted against declaring the anniversary a statewide celebration.

The discussion prompted the Commission to start a bigger picture conversation about this statute and administrative rule. The term “celebration” limited the Commission’s ability to recognize other significant heritage events and draw public attention and valuable educational opportunities to them, such as the 75th anniversary of Japanese Internment or anniversaries of the restoration of Oregon tribes. The Commission also wanted to recognize the impact of historic events on the collective history of Oregon people and to uphold the historical truth about that impact. To do this, the Commission worked with the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department to introduce a bill to change the language in statute 358.595(2f) from “celebration” to “commemoration.”

On March 27, 2019, House Bill 2081 was signed by Governor Brown and will become effective January 1, 2020. This bill modifies just one word. It changes the language related to the Oregon Heritage Commission’s coordination of statewide activities from “celebration” to “commemoration.” Yet the impact of that change is much greater. The Heritage Commission can now work with groups and causes across the state to address significant events in history that are important to understand and acknowledge, but not necessarily celebrate.

Interpreting “Interpretive”

April 3, 2019

Written by Marilyn Levy, Sheridan Museum of History

When the Sheridan Museum of History applied for the Oregon Museum Grant we were just completing a renovation project and moving into the new building. Our hope was that this grant would help us with set-up costs. We hired a museum consultant to get a better handle on how to proceed with this daunting task. As she spoke, you could watch the disapproving faces around the room. Her suggestions, like reducing the number of items in any one display, met with huge resistance. Not long before we were to have completed our grant requirements, we decided that we needed to have an appointment with Kuri Gill, grants and outreach coordinator to make certain that we understood what “interpretive” meant.

Well surprise- we were not even close to understanding “interpretation,” and we obviously had no clear understanding of what an “interpretive museum” was!

Interpretive label installed by Sea Reach, Ltd

Fortunately, Sea Reach, Ltd, is an interpretive sign and development company is located in Sheridan. We came home from our meeting and scheduled a meeting with them. We still had doubting volunteers with regard to what “interpretive” meant, to the extent they were willing to return the generous grant. Luckily, this very busy, nationally known company was able to help. They took on the project, which included signs on all venues, direction signs on the pillars, a wonderful mural behind our pioneer display, and an outside sign (compliments of Sea Reach). Amazingly, they were done by June 2018, our three month deadline.

Since doing all of this signage, we now have a self-guided brochure listing all the venues and where they are located so that the visitor can take their time and not be bothered unless they want to talk with volunteers.  There is not a volunteer at the Sheridan Museum of History that does not agree with our new understanding of the meaning of “interpretive.” I think the best way to describe how we view the concept is that we provide our visitors with the tools necessary for them to understand what they are looking at.  They are able to read signs and other additions that give them the opportunity to make up their own minds about “the way it was” and what they are looking at.  Ultimately this stimulates a variety of questions.  You can’t beat that!

Thanks to the Museum Grant from the Parks and Rec Department we have a much more enjoyable and educational place for our visitors and volunteers. To say that we had a steep learning curve would be an understatement, but thanks to Kuri and staff; and Sea Reach, Ltd, we were able to understand and embrace the meaning of “interpretive” and get it done.