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Learning Center: Oregon Studies: Published Primary Sources

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Published Primary Sources: Euro-American Exploration & Cultural Encounters
Beals, Herbert K, ed. For Honor & Country: The Diary of Bruno de Hezeta. Portland: Oregon Historical Society Press, 1985.  Beals, Herbert K, ed. Juan Perez on the Northwest Coast: Six Documents on His Expedition in 1774. Portland: Oregon Historical Society Press, 1989. In the mid 1770s, Juan Perez and Bruno de Hezeta both led exploring expeditions from Mexico to the Pacific Northwest. Hezeta is now credited as the first European to have sighted the mouth of the Columbia (1775). With these volumes, translator and editor Beal has provided the first English-language translations of the original documents related to the Spanish exploring expeditions.

Devoto, Bernard, ed. The Journals of Lewis and Clark. With a new foreword by Stephen E. Ambrose. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1953. This one-volume edition of the journals of Lewis and Clark is intended for the general reader. Devoto’s condensed version, currently available in paperback, is based on the original journals edited by Rueben Gold Thwaites and published in the first decade of the twentieth century. Devoto provides a useful introduction, modest footnotes, and interesting selections that afford the reader a good introduction to the experiences and achievements of the Corps of Discovery.

Irving, Washington. Astoria: Or, Anecdotes of an Enterprise Beyond the Rocky Mountains. Edited by Edgeley W. Todd. 1835; reprint; Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1964. First published in the 1830s, Irving’s account of John Jacob Astor’s Pacific Fur Company enterprise in the Pacific Northwest became a beloved bestseller. Like the Biddle edition of the Lewis and Clark journals, Irving’s work exposed early nineteenth century American readers to a relatively unknown Far West. Although Irving crafted an appealing, dramatic story of a failed enterprise, this critical edition demonstrates that Irving’s is a useful work because he relied on first-hand accounts, including oral interviews and the Astorians’ journals.

Jones, Robert F. Annals of Astoria: The Headquarters Log of the Pacific Fur Company on the Columbia River, 1811-1813. New York: Fordham University Press, 1999. Published for the first time in 1999, Annals of Astoria presents perhaps the most accurate account of the Astorian enterprise in the Pacific Northwest. Like the Lewis and Clark journals, this is a contemporary source documenting daily events at Fort Astoria. Although not an expert on Pacific Northwest history, Jones offers a reasonably proficient annotated edition that assists readers in understanding the complex web of Native-newcomer relations in the Columbia-Willamette watershed during this first successful attempt at permanent colonization by Euro-Americans.

Moulton, Gary, ed. The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. 13 vols. Lincoln: Nebraska University Press, 1983-2001. Gary Moulton has produced a new comprehensive edition of all the journals associated with the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1803-1806). The thirteen annotated volumes include a historical atlas, a herbarium (reference guide to collected plants), a comprehensive index, and the journals of expedition members Lewis, Clark, Ordway, Floyd, Gass, and Whitehouse. These original sources make engaging reading for the serious student, and they are now available in paperback.

Moulton, Gary, ed. The Lewis and Clark Journals: An American Epic of Discovery. Abridgment of the definitive Nebraska edition. Lincoln: Nebraska University Press, 2003. Moulton’s abridged version of the thirteen-volume Nebraska edition of the Lewis and Clark journals stands as useful source for general readers. Although Moulton has included attractive margin notes to assist the reader, editorial notations are modest. The editor has also provided an informative forty-five page introduction and a short afterword.

Rollins, Aston, ed. The Discovery of the Oregon Trail: Robert Stuart’s Narratives. With a new introduction by Howard Lamar. 1935; reprint; Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1995. The Robert Stuart narratives are an original source documenting the Astorian enterprise in the Pacific Northwest. These narratives, one an original journal and the other a later revision, follow Scotsman Robert Stuart and his companions on their return trip from Fort Astoria to St. Louis, Missouri, which began in the summer of 1812. As such, it contains the first recorded account of the overland route through the Rocky Mountains that would later become the Oregon Trail. Aston Rollins’ introduction and extensive annotations provide a wealth of detail about this arduous overland journey.

Ross, Alexander. Adventures of the First Settlers on the Oregon or Columbia River, 1810-1813. With a new introduction by William G. Robbins. 1904; reprint; Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 2000. Alexander Ross was an Astorian chronicler. Unlike most of the other original Astorian sources, which were not published for profit during the writers’ lifetimes, Ross produced three volumes on his long years in the fur trade with the intention of supporting his family upon his retirement. Written more than three decades after the events reported, Ross’ work is best viewed as literary history, since Ross employed nineteenth century literary conventions. These conventions appealed to readers, but did not always correspond with recorded events. Nonetheless, this volume has long been a popular book and it demonstrates the power and lure of mythologies about the Far West.

Seton, Alfred. Astorian Adventures: The Journal of Alfred Seton, 1811-1815. Edited by Robert F. Jones. New York: Fordham University Press, 1993. Like the Annals of Astoria, Alfred Seton’s journal documenting the Astorian enterprise was not published until the 1990s. His journal is the only surviving account by an American participant in the Pacific Fur Company undertaking. Seton’s comments about his experiences and the various people that he meets illustrate one American’s reactions to foreign peoples and foreign lands in the early nineteenth century. The groups mentioned include the indigenous inhabitants of the Pacific Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands, the colonists of Spanish California, and his fellow Astorians—a “motley crew” of French Canadians, Eastern Indians, and Scotsmen.

Primary Sources: Immigration and Re-settlement
Adams, William L. A Melodrame Entitled “Treason, Stratagems, and Spoils.” Edited by George N. Belknap. 1852; reprint; Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, 1968. This play, first published as a serial in the Oregonian in 1852, is a satire of the Oregon Democratic Party at a time when vitriolic party politics, personal ambitions, a growing sectional crisis over slavery were the order of the day. Written by Whig editorialist William L. Adams under the pseudonym “Junius,” A Melodrame is a highly literary attack on the Democratic Party’s leadership that has often been misunderstood by readers lacking both familiarity with satirical conventions and literary training. Belknap’s introduction and annotations are therefore essential for using the play to educate students about Oregon’s early political culture.

Bailey, Margaret Jewett. The Grains or Passages in the Life of Ruth Rover. Edited by Evelyn Leasher and Robert J. Frank. 1854; reprint; Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 1986. Like William Adams’ drama, Bailey’s work was originally published as a newspaper serial. Although Bailey’s thinly fictionalized autobiography was not a literary or financial success in the 1850s, it does stand as the first published work by a woman in Oregon. Bailey recounts her early years as a missionary at the Methodist Mission near Salem and her succeeding years as a farm wife married to the well-known physician William Bailey. As an educated woman with high hopes for “civilized society” in Oregon, Bailey wrote of a complex life, one marked by religious zeal, attachment to the local landscape, physical and mental abuse, loneliness, and humorous encounters with her French Canadian and Indian neighbors.

Judson, Phoebe Goodell. A Pioneer’s Search for an Ideal Home. Foreword by Susan Armitage. 1925; reprint; Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1993. Phoebe and Holden Judson crossed the plains in 1853 and established themselves as farmers in the Puget Sound area. Phoebe Hudson published her memoirs of their “search for an ideal home” in 1925 at the age of 95. Although this reprint edition does not include annotations, Susan Armitage does provide a succinct introduction, placing the memoir within the context of the re-settlement period of the nineteenth century.  In straightforward narrative prose, Judson presents an interesting story of one ordinary settler’s life that is appropriate for middle and high school students.

Palmer, Joel. Journal of Travels: Over the Oregon Trail in 1845. 1906; reprint; Portland: Oregon Historical Society Press, 1992. Oregon Trail pioneer Joel Palmer first published his journal of the overland journey in 1847. This current reprint reproduces the 1906 version edited and annotated by Reuben Gold Thaites. Palmer provides descriptions of the overland geography, the experiences of the emigrants, supplies necessary for the journey, translations of Chinook Jargon terms, and a copy of the Organic Laws of Oregon (1845).

Ward, Jean M. and Elaine A. Maveety, eds.  Pacific Northwest Women, 1815-1925: Lives, Memories and Writings.  Corvallis:  Oregon State University Press, 1997. Pacific Northwest Women introduces readers to a wide variety of women through their own writings, making it an effective resource for classroom use.  The writings are divided into four basic themes:  1) relationships to the natural environment, 2) coping with hardships, 3) caregiving, and 4) communication—public and private.

Published Primary Sources: Twentieth Century
Cone, Joseph and Sandy Ridlington, eds.  The Northwest Salmon Crisis:  A Documentary History.  Corvallis:  Oregon State University Press, 1996. In this documentary reader, Cone and Ridlington have assembled a collection of primary sources that provide readers with the wide breadth of topics encountered in historical research on the Northwest’s salmon debates.  Leading scholars, lawyers, scientists, and activists have contributed to this compilation by helping to place the source material in a historical context. Topics covered include:  fishing, logging, hydropower development, hatcheries, Indian treaties, and strategies to halt the decline of the region’s salmon population.

Horowitz, David A., ed.  Inside the Klavern: The Secret History of a Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s.  Carbondale:  Southern Illinois University Press, 1999. This unique work is an edited collection of weekly reports compiled by the secretary for La Grande’s “Klan No. 14, Realm of Oregon,” from 1922 through 1924.  As such, it is a look at mainstream bigotry and prejudice from the inside of a highly restricted fraternal organization.

Norman, James B. Oregon Main Street: A Rephotographic Survey. Texts by Rosalind Clark Keeney et. al. Portland: Oregon Historical Society, 1994. Re-photography—producing a photograph of a locale long after an earlier one is originally taken—is an approach James Norman uses to “document and illustrate the effects of time” on Oregon’s major towns and cities. The author juxtaposes historic photographs of various main streets, taken in the early decades of the twentieth century, with ones he took in the mid- 1990s. With captions and texts accompanying the pictures, readers are afforded the opportunity to make their own judgments about changes to these urban landscapes.

Wolloch, Nancy. Muller v. Oregon: A Brief History with Documents. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 1996. In the landmark Muller decision, the United States Supreme Court upheld Oregon’s ten-hour work day for women in factories and laundries. Wolloch divides this volume into two parts. In the first section, she provides an overview of the Progressive Era campaign to improve both women’s rights and workers’ rights. In the second section, she presents primary documents related to the Muller case, and other pertinent legal cases of the period.

Wood, Charles Erskine Scott. Wood Works: The Life and Writings of Charles Erskine Scott Wood. Edited by Edwin Bingham and Tim Barnes. Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 1997. C. E. S. Wood (1852-1944) was a well-known literary figure in Oregon during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Bingham and Barnes have edited a volume that contains important compositions from throughout Wood’s long writing career, from 1877 to 1944. In addition to the explanatory notes for each piece, the editors offer readers an introductory essay on Wood’s life and work.

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