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October 8, 2015 / Charlie McNabb

Oregon Archives Month Celebration

To celebrate Archives Month, 12 Portland area archives came together to host an event at the Portland Archives & Records Center on Saturday, October 3rd. It was exhilarating to see so many interesting artifacts and talk to so many passionate archivists! Image and link heavy post ahead.

City of Portland Archives & Records Center manages city administrative records and also has a historical collection. City Archivist Diana Banning took us on a tour of the stacks. Several interesting items were pulled for our perusal: a police arrest docket from 1915, a handwritten noise complaint from 1869, and a variety of records related to African Americans to go with their lovely new research guide.

A group of standing people listen to a person in a black and white dress explain archival procedures.

City Archivist Diana Banning giving a tour in the closed stacks of the Portland Archives & Records Center.

A police arrest docket from 1915, with crimes including vagrancy, Sunday drunk, and disorderly conduct.

Sunday drinking was a common crime in 1915 Portland.

A letter of complaint describing the annoyance of cowbells.

This group of concerned citizens from 1869 did NOT desire more cowbell.

The Gay & Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest collects and preserves oral histories and other historical artifacts relating to LGBTQ individuals, communities, and organizations in Oregon and the greater Northwest. They had some fantastic posters and images displayed, including a Lon Mabon cut-out doll poster designed by the Special Righteousness Committee (do follow that link for an absolutely hilarious history of a satirical political action committee).

A table with seven large posters.

GLAPN display of LGBTQ posters and ephemera.

A colorful poster depicting OCA leader Lon Mabon as a paper doll and defying Leviticus.

Special Righteousness Committee poking fun at Oregon Citizens Alliance.

Lewis & Clark Special Collections and Archives houses extensive rare books and manuscripts, literary collections, and various historical collections including Lewis and Clark expedition materials. They had some interesting items relating to women’s suffrage, including some publications emerging from lesbian separatist communities.

A table with women's suffrage materials, with a bespectacled person in a red cardigan.

Assistant Archivist Zachariah Selley displaying Lewis & Clark Special Collections and Archives materials.

Lesbian separatist publications fanned out on the table.

A close-up on some lesbian separatist literature.

The Mazamas Museum and Archives collects historical climbing equipment, documents, and photographs. They brought some neat mountaineering artifacts including a very old summit register where climbers wrote their names and occasionally contextual information.

A table with a large informational poster, climbing equipment, and a box containing a summit register; with a person with glasses and a blue shirt.

Mazamas Library & Historical Collections Manager Mathew Brock discussing mountaineering collections.

The Multnomah County Archives preserves county agency records that have been identified as permanent, items on the Multnomah County Historical Records Inventory, and records prior to 1920. Their table had a gorgeous farm planting arrangement map from 1938 as well as some historical and contemporary information about farming and crop production.

A person with a long goatee and a person with long brown hair sitting close and smiling in front of a large pink map.

Multnomah County Archivist Terry Baxter and Records Management Analyst Melissa Laney showing off a cool map.

A pink map showing farm planting arrangements.

I enjoyed their use of scrabble tiles to indicate planting areas and buildings.

Two brief letters; one urging someone not to send the pig, the other requesting the pig be sent.

Two letters about pigs from 1935.

Oregon Health & Science University Historical Collections & Archives houses the university archives, rare books, manuscripts, and medical artifacts. They outdid themselves this year, bringing two halves of a trepanned skull, a cautionary treatise on the dangers of marihuana, a particularly nasty old stomach pump, and other strange and marvelous artifacts.

A person with glasses and a short beard and a person with long blond hair sit smiling in front of a table of medical oddities.

OHSU University Archivist Max Johnson and Public Services Coordinator Meg Langford presiding over their treasures.

The Oregon Historical Society contains a wealth of collections, including maps, photographs, sound recordings, manuscripts, scrapbook, and government documents; all pertaining to Oregon history, culture, and environment. They brought some really lovely historical photographs and information about their collections.

A smiling person with glasses and a dark sweater sitting at a table with photographs and brochures.

Oregon Historical Society Library Director Geoff Wexler fielding questions from interested visitors.

The Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education curates traveling exhibits, preserves Oregon Jewish artifacts and archival collections, and collects oral histories. Their display included historical photographs, publications, and a really neat pushke or charity collection box.

A person with a green scarf and black cardigan smiling and talking with a visitor across a table of photographs and other artifacts.

A very nice person whose name I didn’t get chatting up a visitor at the Oregon Jewish Museum table.

A black and white photograph of the White Stag building in an previous era.

Portland’s historic White Stag building.

Oregon Metro Archives and Special Collections collects government-related archival materials pertaining to land use, economic development, parks, transportation, and more. Materials include oral histories, photographs, publications, meetings records, and planning documents. They brought urban planning publications, photographs of elected officials, and a paper finding aid to explain collections organization.

A person in a red blazer standing in front of a table with a laptop, two large photographs, and several publications.

A Metro archivist deep in discussion about digitization.

The Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center, a project of Oregon Nikkei Endowment, is a venue for cultural events and houses a Japanese American History Museum with artifacts and archival collections. They have recently been digitizing and identifying photographs from the Frank C. Hirahara Collection, which can be found at the Densho Digital Repository. Several of these photographs were on display along with contextual information.

A person with long dark hair and glasses sitting in front of a table of photographs.

A metadata professional with some nicely described historical photographs from the Frank C. Hirahara Collection.

Portland State University’s Architecture, Engineering & Construction Archives preserves records related to campus infrastructure: planning, construction, demolition, architectural drawings, photographs of buildings, and so forth. They had some very cool building models, blueprints, and photographs.

A smiling person with glasses sitting in front of a building model, blueprints, and photographs.

AECA Archivist Bryce Henry explaining preservation of styrofoam building models.

The Portland State University Special Collections & University Archives holds a wide variety of physical and digital collections, including rare books and manuscripts, oral histories, university archival materials, and regional historical materials. They brought some items from the Verdell A. Burdine and Otto G. Rutherford Family Collection, including a fez and apron worn by Rutherford when he served as President and Exalted Ruler of the Billy Webb Lodge.

A person with glasses and a black cardigan sitting in front of a table with a purple fez, an ornate apron, and several paper documents.

Special Collections & Conservation Technician Carolee Harrison displaying PSU artifacts.

A purple fez with lettering reading PER Billy Webb Lodge No. 1050 Portland, Ore.

I really wanted to try it on.

A ceremonial apron with fringe and Mason symbolism.

Past Master Grand Lodge Mason Apron.

What a fabulous event! I can’t wait until next year. Until then, I think I’ll make some pilgrimages to take a more in-depth look at some of these collections.



Leave a Comment
  1. maxmacias / Oct 9 2015 6:59 AM

    This is great–thank you!

    Are there any other ethnic collections in Oregon besides the one at OSU?

    • Charlie McNabb / Oct 25 2015 6:58 PM

      Tons! Almost all the archives from the event hold various ethnic collections. I’m most familiar with UO since that’s where I was a student worker. UO special collections has quite a few ethnic collections, one being the PCUN collection. You should check it out!

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