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News Releases
Experience Oregon - credit Andie Petkus
Experience Oregon - credit Andie Petkus
Oregon Historical Society Museum to Re-Open to Visitors on Saturday, July 11 (Photo) - 07/01/20

Portland, OR – After nearly four months closed, the Oregon Historical Society plans to re-open its museum to the public on Saturday, July 11, 2020 at 10am. Following re-opening, public museum and store hours will be Wednesdays – Saturdays from 10am – 5pm and Sundays from 12pm – 5pm. The OHS Research Library remains closed for renovations that began in January 2020. More information on library services that are available during the renovation can be found at ohs.org/libraryreno.

Following the guidance and requirements of the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) for cultural attractions and museums, the Oregon Historical Society has implemented important safety protocols for the health of our staff and visitors. New safety protocols are detailed at the bottom of this press release as well as at ohs.org/reopening.

When the Oregon Historical Society closed on Saturday, March 14, the museum was about to debut a new original exhibition, Nevertheless, They Persisted: Women’s Voting Rights and the 19th Amendment, which chronicles the complicated history of woman suffrage and broad voting rights and profiles the brave activists who fought for woman suffrage. Now extended through mid-2021, this exhibit shows the many ways Oregon history connects to the national history of woman suffrage and to the complex history of American democracy.

“In this election year, Nevertheless, They Persisted will prompt visitors to reflect on voting rights and the many ways that activists have fought to universalize this basic right of citizenship,” said OHS Executive Director Kerry Tymchuk. “We were excited to open this exhibition in March, and four months later, the important messages of the power of activism shared in Nevertheless, They Persisted feel even more relevant today.”

Oregon women gained the right to vote in 1912, the initiative passing with a 52% majority after five prior failed attempts spanning nearly 30 years. It was not until the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920, however, that women across the country gained the right to vote in local and national elections. Even then, these rights did not extend to all women — restrictions on citizenship continued for Native Americans and first-generation Asian Americans well into the twentieth century, and frequently used voter-suppression methods were outlawed by the 1965 Voting Rights Act (itself weakened by the 2013 Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder).

Nevertheless, They Persisted, and the Oregon Historical Society’s recently renovated permanent exhibition, Experience Oregon, give visitors an honest, and often difficult, look at our state’s history. In a recent statement on racial justice and equality, Tymchuk and OHS Board President Mary Faulkner wrote, “The Oregon Historical Society recommits itself to being a valuable resource by documenting, preserving, and sharing our state’s history, from all perspectives, and in all its complexities. We hope that everyone will continue to help guide us in providing knowledge of the past and working to build a more just and equitable society in the future.”

The Oregon Historical Society is excited to re-open its museum to share these exhibitions with visitors, while continuing its efforts to provide programs and content virtually for those who are not able to visit in person. For a full schedule of upcoming virtual programs, visit ohs.org/events, and to read up on what has been keeping OHS staff-members busy during our closure, visit ohs.org/blog.

New Health and Safety Protocols

Visitors to the Oregon Historical Society will be asked to adhere to the following guidelines in an effort to keep our staff and visitors as safe as possible: 

Wear A Face Covering: Pursuant to the Governor’s executive order, all visitors age twelve and older are required to wear a face covering. In compliance with ADA requirements, guests who have a physical or mental health condition, including disability, that prevents them from putting on, taking off, or wearing a face covering or are unable to wear a face covering for medical reasons will be exempt. If visitors do not have a face covering, single-use face coverings will be provided at no charge.

Maintain Distance: Signage through the museum will remind visitors to keep six feet of distance between themselves and visitors outside of their party. Per OHA guidelines, groups of up to 10 within the same party are not required to maintain six feet of physical distance.

Modified Exhibit Access: For the safety of our visitors, high touch hands-on interactive features in open exhibitions are closed until further notice. Our History Hub exhibit will be closed due to the hands-on nature of this exhibition, as will our Photo Hallway gallery due to the inability for visitors to easily maintain six feet of distance. 

Museum Store: The Oregon Historical Society Museum Store will maintain the same public hours as the museum. During this time, there will be a limit of four customers in the store at one time. We are eager to welcome shoppers back to the museum store, as all sales in our store provide critical funding in support of our mission.

Other Safety Precautions Include:

  • Additional hand sanitizing stations installed at the museum’s entrance and throughout the building;
  • Plexiglas sneeze guards installed at point of sale stations;
  • Designated one-way paths to maintain required distancing as visitors enter, exit, and enjoy our exhibitions;
  • Limited contact transactions; at this time, we will be discouraging cash/check transactions; and
  • Limiting building capacity to a maximum of 150 visitors in the museum at one time.

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.

Kyler Wang and Alan Zhou at the 2019 National History Day contest.
Kyler Wang and Alan Zhou at the 2019 National History Day contest.
Oregon Students Win First Prize at National History Day(R) Contest for Second Consecutive Year (Photo) - 06/30/20

Portland, OR – For the second year running, Portland sophomores Kyler Wang and Alan Zhou won gold at the annual National History Day® contest in the Senior Group Documentary category for their film, Breaking the Curfew: The Story of Minoru Yasui. Wang and Zhou won first place in the same category in the 2019 contest for their documentary, Echo of Falling Water: The Inundation of Celilo Falls — the first time in several years that Oregon students have medaled at the national contest, which this year drew over 3,000 students from across the country.

Even amidst a pandemic, 141 students from across the state came together virtually to participate in Oregon History Day, the statewide qualifying competition for the annual National History Day® contest. Working from home, middle and high school students developed their research projects, in the forms of papers, documentaries, websites, performances, and exhibits, persevering through hurdles that the new virtual format presented. Fifty volunteer judges evaluated over 70 projects online, and 56 students advanced to the National History Day® contest, which took place online from June 14–20.

As veteran Oregon and National History Day® participants, the switch to a virtual format provided new hurdles for the documentarians, according to Zhou:

Competing virtually was definitely a change for us, as we had gotten used to flying to Maryland for the national competition the past two years. Fortunately, we were able to complete most of our research and personal interviews before the COVID-19 quarantine began. We did conduct a few interviews over the internet. Although this affected the visual quality, we still learned a lot from them. Our work process was also altered —we were unable to meet in-person to write our script and revise the project. Despite these challenges, the overall experience of participating in NHD and conducting historical research remained fulfilling. We are extremely grateful that Oregon History Day continued, as we would not have the chance to tell our story and view projects created by other students. 

While the students clearly persevered, Wang noted that he, “definitely missed some of the yearly traditions at Nationals, like exchanging state-themed buttons and the parade before the award ceremony.”

Breaking the Curfew profiles Hood River, Oregon, born Minoru Yasui, who intentionally violated the military curfew imposed on Japanese Americans during World War II. In 2015, President Barack Obama awarded a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor, to Yasui for challenging the incarceration of Japanese Americans in concentration camps during World War II and for his leadership in civil and human rights. He is the first Oregonian to receive that Medal.

“Through our documentaries, we've always tried to give a voice to powerful stories that have been mostly untold or forgotten,” remarked Wang. “Even as Oregonians, Alan and I had never heard of Minoru Yasui, nor Celilo Falls.”

Zhou further shared:

We first came across Minoru Yasui during our visit to the Oregon Historical Society museum's Experience Oregon exhibition in September 2019. We were instantly captivated and inspired by his powerful story. Here was an Oregonian, born and raised just 60 miles east of our high schools, who dared to stand up against the full force of the United States government in his fight against the discriminatory military orders imposed on his community during World War II. After doing some more research, we knew that Minoru Yasui fit the theme of this year's National History Day competition (Breaking Barriers in History) perfectly. Mr. Yasui not only broke barriers by intentionally violating the curfew during WWII, but by serving as a champion of justice throughout his lifetime. He stands as an example of what it means to be an Oregonian —and an American. 

Other Oregon students recognized at National History Day® include Anja Jolin, now a student at St. Mary’s Academy in Portland, Oregon. Jolin first participated in the Oregon History Day program three years ago when she was a student at Laurelhurst K–8. Still mentored by her middle school teacher, Lindsay Gebbie, Jolin has won the Outstanding Oregon Entry for her projects three years running, this year recognized in the senior category for her paper, Chipping Away at the Bulletproof Glass Ceiling: Portland Women Breaking Barriers in Policing. When asked why she continues to participate in the program, Jolin says:

Oregon History Day has given me the chance to delve into topics that interest me and explore the intricate details and mysteries of historical events. I enjoy connecting local history to broader issues with national significance, such as immigration and systemic gender barriers. Oregon History Day has given me a chance to take my learning outside the classroom and learn about events and people in history and the impact that they have made to society as a whole.

Evelyn Chen, Flora Huan, and Rachel Wang from Beaverton, Oregon’s, Stoller Middle School won the Outstanding Oregon Junior Entry award for their Junior Group Documentary, Fighting for Change: The Integration of Women in the Armed Forces.

Other notable projects that represented Oregon at the National History Day® contest included:

For the first time, students can already begin working on their 2021 National History Day® projects, following the new annual theme, Communication in History: The Key to Understanding. National History Day® provides an excellent project-based learning opportunity for all middle and high school students; educators interested in bringing this program to the classroom should contact Oregon History Day Coordinator Kristen Pilgrim at isten.pilgrim@ohs.org">kristen.pilgrim@ohs.org.


About Oregon History Day:

Oregon History Day, part of National History Day®, is a renowned, evidence-based middle and high school program where students across the state develop historical research projects based on an annual theme. Facilitated by the Oregon Historical Society, Oregon History Day encourages students to nurture their curiosities by researching topics from any time period or place, and by analyzing a historical event that connects to the annual theme. Students present their work in one of five categories — paper, website, exhibit, documentary, or performance —that can be developed independently or in groups of up to five students for each category (except paper).

Open-ended topic selections and student-directed inquiries give participants ownership over their projects and give educators the flexibility to adapt the program to fit their curriculum. Educators can narrow the scope of topic selections to align with themes they are covering in the classroom, such as focusing on the diversity of the many people who have shaped Oregon’s history. As students move through the process, they learn to collect, organize, and analyze information through a historical lens by evaluating primary and secondary sources.

Over half a million students across the nation participate, and for the first time ever, the National History Day® office is allowing students to begin work on their 2021 projects now! The 2021 theme is Communication in History: The Key to Understanding. For more information on National History Day®, visit www.nhd.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.

New Scholarship Presents Timely Exploration of the History of the "Pioneer" Identity as Monuments are Removed Nationwide (Photo) - 06/18/20

Portland, OR – As protesters remove monuments across the nation that represent a legacy of racism and oppression, the Oregon Historical Society’s scholarly journal, the Oregon Historical Quarterly, publishes a relevant article in the just-released Summer 2020 issue on the complicated pioneer narrative by Marc James Carpenter, Pioneer Problems: “Wanton Murder,” Indian War Veterans, and Oregon’s Violent History. A digital copy of this article as well as interviews with authors are available by request.

In this research article, Carpenter examines turn-of-the-twentieth-century debates over the definition of the word pioneer in history and public memory. Leaders of the Indian War Veterans of the North Pacific Coast (IWV-NPC) and of the Oregon Historical Society, Carpenter writes, worked to shape the public’s acceptance or rejection of the “martial roots of the term pioneer” in relation to Euro-Americans’ violence against Native people. As Carpenter suggests, “a true history of the Pacific Northwest must reckon with the legions of Euro-American pioneers who, during the 1840s, the 1850s, and beyond, pursued pogroms and inflicted acts of workaday racial violence in pursuit of a white ethno-state.”

That reckoning should include an examination of memorialization in public spaces. According to Carpenter, Alexander Phimister Proctor’s Pioneer sculpture at the University of Oregon, which protesters recently removed from its base, is “unusual in its explicit celebration of pioneer violence.” The sculpture depicts a Euro-American man in purposeful stride, with a gun slung over his shoulder and a whip in his hand.

The statue clearly reinforced white-supremacist beliefs for at least one prominent Oregonian when it was erected, as past Oregon Historical Society President Frederick V. Holman spoke to “the instincts and traditions of the Anglo-Saxon race . . . to move westward . . . [to] a wild land to be made useful and become part of the civilized world.” Holman’s speech was published in the September 1919 issue of the Oregon Historical Quarterly and can be accessed for free online

This is not the first time the Quarterly has delved into the complexities of public memory, history, and debates over veneration of historical figures. In the Summer 2019 essay, “What’s in a name?” The University of Oregon, De-Naming Controversies, and the Ethics of Public Memory, authors Matthew Dennis and Samuel Reis-Dennis explore the significance of honorific building naming on college campuses. According to Dennis and Reis-Dennis, “questions about honorific naming opportunities . . . are not just academic — they are edifying.”

In September 2016, University of Oregon President Michael H. Schill decided to recommend that the university’s board of trustees de-name a building named for Frederic S. Dunn, a former classics professor and leader in the local KKK, but not Deady Hall. The authors commented on “the tortured nature of the president’s justification” at that time and argued that “the renewal of an icon is itself a history-making act, which says something not only about more distant, historical worlds, but also about us.” Their essay is valuable in considering debates over monument removal but also is particularly timely, as Schill has recently announced a reversal in his original recommendation to de-name Deady Hall, in response to a request from UO trustee Andrew Colas. Deady’s portrait has also just been removed from the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse. The University of Oregon’s board of trustees will consider renaming Deady Hall at a meeting on June 24.

“What’s in a name?” is available to read for free on the OHS website at ohs.org/readohq, along with over 80 other peer reviewed articles spanning from 1963 through 2019. Published continuously since 1900, OHQ brings well-researched, well-written history about Oregon and the Pacific Northwest to both scholars and general readers. OHQ is one of the largest state historical society journals in the United States and is a recognized and respected source for the history of the Pacific Northwest region. 

The Summer 2020 issue and many back issues of the Oregon Historical Quarterly are available for purchase through the Oregon Historical Society’s Museum Store for $10, and a subscription to OHQ is a benefit of Oregon Historical Society membership. Copies of the Winter 2019 special issue on “White Supremacy & Resistance,” available for $15, can also be ordered by emailing the museum store at e@ohs.org">museumstore@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.

Attached Media Files: Summer_2020.jpg