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What’s Changing Oregon History?

June 18, 2013

I think it’s time that we can say that the Oregon Digital Newspaper Project is changing Oregon history.

The project has made available online more than 365,000 pages of newspapers published in 24 Oregon cities. New pages are being added frequently, making the Oregon project one of the most vibrant state digital newspaper projects in the country.

Karen Estlund, director of the Oregon Digital Newspaper Program at the University of Oregon Libraries

Karen Estlund, director of the Oregon Digital Newspaper Program at the University of Oregon Libraries

A recent example of changing Oregon history is the online edition of Willamette Valley Voices, the scholarly publication published by the Willamette Heritage Center in Salem. In an article about the Salem Cherry Fair’s history, author Kylie Pine debunks and clarifies how stories about when the first fair took place, who its first queen was, and how those stories may have started. She specifically mentions the Oregon Digital Newspaper Project and her ability to use the digitized version of the Capital Journal for her research.

I have also heard other people say they are now able to do research easily on topics – from the women’s suffrage movement in Oregon to the state’s mining history — that previously would have been daunting without the word searching capabilities of the Oregon Digital Newspaper Project. These digitized newspapers greatly reduce the amount of time it takes to find relevant information and increases the chance of finding previously unexpected information.

I’ve also seen non-history newsletters using articles lifted directly from the project’s digitized pages. For example, a May 2013 newsletter (see pages 34-35) from the Monmouth-Independence area used the Oregon Digital Newspaper Project to reprint newspaper articles about the area from the 1910s and 1920s.

If you’re doing research on new topics, or are re-examining previously researched topics in Astoria, Bandon, Bend, Burns, Canyon City, Coos Bay, Cottage Grove, Jacksonville, Klamath Falls, Lakeview, Madras, Medford, Ontario, Oregon City, Pendleton, Salem, Scottsburg, Springfield, Sumpter, The Dalles, Union, Vale or on any Oregon topic, especially those prior to 1923, the Oregon Digital Newspaper Project is a must-visit. And it’s free.

The Oregon Digital Newspaper Project is showing great value to historians and non-historians alike. Do you have other examples to share of where it has changed history or historical research?

Kyle Jansson is coordinator of Oregon Heritage Commission at Oregon Heritage and a member of the Oregon Digital Newspaper Project’s advisory board.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 19, 2013 4:24 pm

    I’ve used some of the old papers in my research for novels set in 1847-1851. Thank you!

  2. August 15, 2013 12:55 pm

    At the Des Chutes Historical Museum, we ourselves refer to the project website on an almost daily basis to answer research queries and our own research needs. While the actual copies of the early Bend Bulletins are in our storage rooms, the ability to view papers through the project website extends the life of the archival copies–plus, there is that handy word search feature!

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