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Joyce Chen left Shanghai in 1949, settling in Cambridge, MA. Capitalizing on her culinary skills, she opened a Mandarin-style restaurant in 1958. Her growing reputation and subsequent cookbook landed her a nationally televised cooking show—the first TV se
Joyce Chen left Shanghai in 1949, settling in Cambridge, MA. Capitalizing on her culinary skills, she opened a Mandarin-style restaurant in 1958. Her growing reputation and subsequent cookbook landed her a nationally televised cooking show—the first TV se
Chinese American: Exclusion / Inclusion Exhibition on Display at Oregon Historical Society through June 1, 2016 (Photo) - 02/02/16
Portland, OR -- America's desire for trade with China is older than Independence, yet in 1882 the nation's borders shut for the first time to exclude Chinese workers. A long and bitter contest over immigration and citizenship ensued, influenced by tensions within the United States and the changing tenor of relations between the two countries.

This struggle over freedom and the right to belong shaped the Chinese American experience and the very formation of American society. It is a story of extraordinary individuals, fearful and courageous acts, and unexpected twists and turns that have surprising relevance to our world today.

The Oregon Historical Society (OHS) is proud to host Chinese American: Exclusion / Inclusion, on display now through June 1, 2016. On loan from the New-York Historical Society, this exhibition will make its only appearance on the West Coast at OHS before being sent to China for display.

"After seeing this exhibit in person at the New-York Historical Society, I knew that it would be well received in Portland," said OHS Executive Director Kerry Tymchuk. "It is a world-class display, and tells an important history that is so relevant amidst the current conversations over immigration in our country."

OHS will kick off the exhibition and Chinese New Year with a fabulous mile-long parade and dragon dance through Portland this Sunday, February 7. The Dragon Dance will begin at 11am on the corner of NW Davis & 4th Ave., continuing through Chinatown, down 3rd Ave., and up SW Jefferson (click here for detailed map). The celebration continues at OHS (1200 SW Park Ave., Portland) when the parade arrives around noon, where admission will be free, sweet treats and tea will be served, and all are welcome to enjoy special performances by local Lion Dance teams!

In conjunction, the Oregon Historical Society's museum will also open a second exhibition on February 29 entitled Beyond the Gate: A Tale of Portland's Historic Chinatowns. This original exhibit tells the hundred year history of Portland's Old Chinatown (1850-1905) and New Chinatown (1905-1950). Unbeknownst to many Oregonians, Portland in fact was home to the second largest Chinatown in the nation in 1900.

A series of public programs on the topics of immigration, migration, exclusion, and inclusion of Americans throughout history have also been scheduled at the Oregon Historical Society and at venues across the state. For a full calendar of programs, visit www.ohs.org/events.

For additional reading on Chinese Americans in Oregon, visit The Oregon Encyclopedia website at http://bit.ly/1W05bvt.

The Oregon Historical Society's museum is open seven days a week, Monday -- Saturday from 10am -- 5pm and Sunday from 12pm -- 5pm. Admission is $11, and discounts are available for students, seniors, and youth. OHS members and Multnomah County residents receive free admission every day.



About the Oregon Historical Society

For more than a century, the Oregon Historical Society has served as the state's collective memory, preserving a vast collection of artifacts, photographs, maps, manuscript materials, books, films, and oral histories. Our research library, museum, digital platforms & website (www.ohs.org), educational programming, and historical journal make Oregon's history open and accessible to all. We exist because history is powerful, and because a history as deep and rich as Oregon's cannot be contained within a single story or point of view.
Presidential_Medal_of_Freedom.jpg
Presidential_Medal_of_Freedom.jpg
Oregonian Minoru Yasui's Presidential Medal of Freedom to be displayed in Salem & Portland (Photo) - 01/26/16
Portland, OR -- The Presidential Medal of Freedom, posthumously awarded to Oregonian Minoru Yasui (1916-1986) by President Obama at a White House ceremony on November 24, 2015, will be on display in both Salem and Portland this February. The Oregon Historical Society is sponsoring the exhibit, in partnership with the Minoru Yasui Tribute Committee and the Oregon Nikkei Endowment. The Medal will be on display at the Oregon State Capitol on Monday, February 1, 2016 from 9am to 5pm for the opening of the 2016 Legislative Session. The Medal will then be on exhibit at the Oregon Historical Society (1200 SW Park Ave., Portland) from February 2 through 19, 2016.

"Minoru Yasui was truly one of Oregon's most courageous and historic figures," said OHS Executive Director Kerry Tymchuk. "The Presidential Medal of Freedom is a fitting tribute to his remarkable life and legacy, and we are honored that the Yasui family is allowing us to share it with the public."

Created through an Executive Order signed by President John F. Kennedy in 1963, the Presidential Medal of Freedom is bestowed by the President of the United States and is our country's highest civilian award. The Hood River native is the first Oregonian to receive this honor.

In announcing Yasui's selection, the White House Press Office stated, "Minoru Yasui was a civil and human rights leader known for his continuous defense of the ideals of democracy embodied in our Constitution. Yasui challenged the constitutionality of a military curfew ordered during World War II on the grounds of racial discrimination, and spent nine months in solitary confinement during the subsequent legal battle. In 1943, the Supreme Court upheld the military curfew order."

During the awards presentation, President Obama said "Today Min's legacy has never been more important. It is a call to our national conscience, a reminder of our enduring obligation to be the land of the free, and the home of the brave, an America worthy of his sacrifices."

A biography of Yasui is available on The Oregon Encyclopedia (http://bit.ly/1SWdN4Q), and an abridged biography is included below. The Oregon Encyclopedia (www.oregonencyclopedia.org) is an online resource for information on the state's significant people, places, events, and institutions. Additionally, the Oregon Historical Society contains extensive manuscripts and artifacts from the Yasui family. Items from the collection will accompany the display of the medal at the Oregon Historical Society.

The Oregon Historical Society's museum (1200 SW Park Ave., Portland) is open daily, 10am -- 5pm (12pm -- 5pm Sundays), and the research library is open on Tuesdays from 1pm -- 5pm, and Wednesday through Saturday from 10am -- 5pm. Admission is free every day to members and Multnomah County residents; general admission is $11 and includes access to both the museum and library.

About Minoru Yasui

Minoru Yasui, the first Japanese American to graduate from the University of Oregon School of Law and the first to become a member of the Oregon Bar, was born in Hood River, Oregon, in 1916. He made national history by challenging the constitutionality of the military curfew imposed on Japanese American citizens in World War II.

Following the signing of Executive Order 9066 by President Franklin Roosevelt on February 19, 1942, the military imposed a curfew that ordered all German nationals, Italian nationals, and persons of Japanese ancestry to remain in their homes between the hours of 8pm and 6am. Yasui believed that the military orders were unconstitutional as applied to U.S. citizens and that the constitutional rights of Japanese Americans would be upheld by the courts. On March 28, 1942, he walked the streets of Portland to intentionally violate the military curfew, which eventually led to his arrest and trial. He was sentenced to one year in prison and a fine of $5,000. Yasui appealed his case. He spent nine months in solitary confinement at the Multnomah County jail as his case wound its way from the lower courts to the U.S. Supreme Court, which in June 1943 ruled that while Yasui did not lose his U.S. citizenship, his rights could be overridden--based on race--in time of war. Yasui was sent to the Minidoka Relocation Center in Idaho, where he remained incarcerated until mid-1944.

In 1981, Yasui was named chair of the Japanese American Citizens League committee on the wrongful imprisonment of Japanese Americans in World War II. He successfully filed appeals to the district court to vacate his conviction, but he also requested that the court recognize that the incarceration of 120,000 persons because of their Japanese ancestry was unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the appeal was moot, affirmed the motion to dismiss, and dashed the hopes of many. The Yasui case was over.

Yasui died on November 12, 1986, before the Supreme Court heard his case. His final return to Oregon occurred forty years after he had left, when his ashes were buried beneath a pair of giant cedars in Hood River. "It was my belief," Yasui once said, "that no military authority has the right to subject any United States citizen to any requirement that does not equally apply to all other U.S. citizens. If we believe in America, if we believe in equality and democracy, if we believe in law and justice, then each of us, when we see or believe errors are being made, has an obligation to make every effort to correct them.

Written by Peggy Nagae



About the Oregon Historical Society

For more than a century, the Oregon Historical Society has served as the state's collective memory, preserving a vast collection of artifacts, photographs, maps, manuscript materials, books, films, and oral histories. Our research library, museum, digital platforms & website (www.ohs.org), educational programming, and historical journal make Oregon's history open and accessible to all. We exist because history is powerful, and because a history as deep and rich as Oregon's cannot be contained within a single story or point of view.
Credit: Robert Setterberg
Credit: Robert Setterberg
Historic Haas Mural in SW Portland to Undergo Restoration Following Critical Building Repairs (Photo) - 01/22/16
Portland, OR -- The well-known mural of historic Oregon scenes that graces the Sovereign Hotel building located on the corner of SW Madison & Broadway in downtown Portland will be temporarily impacted by the renovation of the building, which began this week. Renovations are being led by Emerick Architects and R&H Construction and subcontractor D&R Masonry.

The Sovereign Hotel building was sold in 2014 by the Oregon Historical Society to 1922 Sovereign LLC, but the Society retained ownership of the mural. The sale agreement anticipated that the repairs that needed to be made to the building would impact the mural, and required that the mural be preserved and that OHS and the 1922 Sovereign LLC would share the cost of the preservation.

"The mural has been a fixture on the Portland Park Blocks for nearly a century and is a true Portland icon," said OHS Executive Director Kerry Tymchuk. "Our visitors frequently comment on their love of the mural, and we are excited to work with 1922 Sovereign LLC to ensure that it will be restored to its full glory."

"We are thrilled to work so closely with the Oregon Historical Society and an incredibly experienced and talented team in preserving this landmark," said Gary Maffei of 1922 Sovereign LLC.

1922 Sovereign LLC, in partnership with the Oregon Historical Society and Jessica Engeman, Historic Preservation Specialist from Venerable Group, Inc., has selected Dan Cohen to handle the mural restoration, which is slated to begin this May. Cohen is a classically trained painter, sculptor, and muralist, who currently lives and works in the Pacific Northwest, Los Angeles, and New York City. Notable local projects include the Oaks Bottom Wildlife mural at Portland Oaks Bottom Refuge, one of the largest fine-art murals in the nation. His work is known across the country, and he has already had conversations with the original muralist, Richard Haas, about this project.

The 14,000 square foot mural is made of Keim silicate paint and was originally commissioned by the Oregon Historical Society in 1989. According to Richard Haas' website, "the west face of this multi-part mural, painted on four sides of a six-sided building depicts four, thirty-feet-high participants of the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804-05. The south face bears a trompe l'oil freize of the Oregon Trail and the John Jacob Astor fur trade."



About the Oregon Historical Society

For more than a century, the Oregon Historical Society has served as the state's collective memory, preserving a vast collection of artifacts, photographs, maps, manuscript materials, books, films, and oral histories. Our research library, museum, digital platforms & website (www.ohs.org), educational programming, and historical journal make Oregon's history open and accessible to all. We exist because history is powerful, and because a history as deep and rich as Oregon's cannot be contained within a single story or point of view.
Pages_of_Death_2.jpg
Pages_of_Death_2.jpg
Lost Film, Pages of Death (1962) Discovered in Collection at the Oregon Historical Society (Photo) - 01/13/16
Portland, OR -- A 16mm print of the film Pages of Death was recently discovered in the collection of the Portland, Oregon based Oregon Historical Society (OHS). Before this discovery, the film had been included on a list of lost films, defined as films in which no copy is known to survive.

An anti-pornography and pro-censorship film running 27 minutes in length, Pages of Death was produced by the Citizens for Decent Literature and narrated by Heisman Trophy winner Tom Harmon. Created in 1962, the film was ranked #14 in Gambit Magazine's list of 15 Films Lost to Time.

To quote Jim Linderman in Vintage Sleaze, Pages of Death tells the story of a fellow named Paul Halliday, who "hung out reading pornography at Baker's Variety Store until he couldn't stand it any longer and murdered a girl in a whipped up frenzy of smut inspired rage."

Told in a "Dragnet" type storyline--bookended by Harmon's scare narration-- Pages of Death was a direct response to the growing accessibility of questionable material in local Five & Dime shops in the early 1960s. In the film, the proprietor of the drug store is held in contempt by the detectives as a peddler of filth for wayward youths. A stylized and over the top storyline, Pages of Death stands in stark contrast to the ease by which similar materials is available on the internet today.

A low resolution reference copy of the film is viewable on the OHS YouTube page.

Oregon Historical Society archivists look forward to learning more about this film--including whether it is in fact the only surviving print--and planning appropriately for its preservation. If organizations are interested in scheduling a screening of the film, assisting more broadly with its preservation, or have information regarding the existence of any elements of this film in other collections, please contact Archivist Matthew Cowan by email at matthew.cowan@ohs.org.



About the Oregon Historical Society

For more than a century, the Oregon Historical Society has served as the state's collective memory, preserving a vast collection of artifacts, photographs, maps, manuscript materials, books, films, and oral histories. Our research library, museum, digital platforms & website (www.ohs.org), educational programming, and historical journal make Oregon's history open and accessible to all. We exist because history is powerful, and because a history as deep and rich as Oregon's cannot be contained within a single story or point of view.