What's Happening?

From our interactive museum exhibits to our Research Library to our premier meeting and event space, there's always something fun happening at the Oregon Historical Society. See below for upcoming events.

Unless otherwise noted, programs take place at the Oregon Historical Society building in downtown Portland (1200 SW Park Avenue) and are free of charge with museum admission. Click on links or call (503) 222-1741 for more information.



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Oregon History 101

Immigration and Ethnicity

Dr. Jacqueline Peterson-Loomis, Emeritus Professor of History, Washington State University 

Monday, December 1 at 7 pm

At McMenamins Kennedy School
Free and open to the public; all ages welcome


Oregon History 101 is a nine-month public history program series designed to give Oregonians a basic understanding of the state’s significant people, places, and events. Each month, historians present a chapter of Oregon History, beginning with the earliest peoples and ending with the turn of the twenty-first century. The series emphasizes Oregon’s connection to historical themes in American History, including Native history, early exploration, western expansion, race, gender, and social justice, and the post-industrial economy. Each presentation will feature images from the Oregon Historical Society archives and will be filmed and made available on the World Wide Web, along with research guides and other digitized material from The Oregon Encyclopedia and the Oregon History Project. Learn more on The Oregon Encyclopedia.


Holiday Cheer: A Celebration of Oregon Authors

Sunday, December 7 from Noon – 4 PM


For nearly 50 years, the Oregon Historical Society has celebrated the literary talents of Oregonians at this annual holiday book sale and signing. Meet your favorite author, and take home a personally signed book for the perfect local holiday gift. All authors who are invited to participate have published in the current year, and many will have multiple books available for sale. Enjoy holiday treats, music, and more as we kick off the holiday season at the Oregon Historical Society!


Community Day

Fisherpoets presentation and workshop

Saturday, December 13 from 11 AM – 3 PM

Free and open to the public


The Oregon Folklife Network and OHS are pleased to present an afternoon with some of Oregon’s fisherpoets, many of whom are best known for their annual winter gathering in Astoria each February. Commercial fishermen, which include men and women, have long composed songs and written verse and prose about the drama, dangers, and funny side their work. A variety of our state’s finest, including Cary Jones (Eugene), Moe Bowstern, Jon Broderick, and Jay Speakman, will perform from 1-3 PM. There will also be opportunities to participate in a writing workshop preceding the performance (first come, first served). There will also be children’s activities including knot tying lessons.


Learn more about the fisherpoets attending the event on their websites:


Mo Bowstern:

Jon Broderick and Jay Speakman:

Cary Jones:


Second Sunday

“The Wake of Vanport”

Oral history screening presented by The Vanport Multimedia Project

Sunday, December 14 at 2 PM

Free and open to the public


“The Wake of Vanport” is so named to honor the death of a city and the viewing of its history through the collection of Vanport stories told by the voices of those who lived there. It is also a celebration of life after loss. Vanport is a lost city of Oregon with a rich history for all Oregonians. Join us for this screening of multimedia works produced during the 2014 Vanport Multimedia Project dedicated to collecting and preserving Vanport survivors’ stories. Community members, local historians, artists, media makers, and educators collaborated to turn oral history interviews into short and powerful pieces of digital audio and visual narrative. Immediately following the screening there will be an opportunity for discussion with survivors and producers. Refreshments will be served.


The Vanport Multimedia Project is an ongoing project of North Portland Multimedia Training Center (NPMTC) to collect and archive oral history from individuals in the Portland African American community. The 2014 Vanport Multimedia Project is generously supported by the Meyer Memorial Trust, the Oregon Community Foundation, the Multnomah County Cultural Coalition, and The Skanner Newsgroup. NPMTC is a project of The Skanner Foundation.


KGW Great Toy Drive

Now through December 15


Join OHS in supporting the KGW Great Toy Drive sponsored by Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon, Wells Fargo, and Toyota. Bring any new unwrapped toy to the Oregon Historical Society through December 15 and help families in need make this holiday season special.

The Scourge of Positivism: A Drama in Three Acts

Produced by Zenith Tea House in cooperation with the Oregon Historical Society

Montage and music by Geoff Wexler 

Saturday, December 20, continuous performances from 1 – 5 PM

Regular OHS Admission


Zenith Tea House, in cooperation with the Oregon Historical Society, presents a slide show with live music, based on the Gifford and Cronise photograph collections in the Davies Family Research Library, combined with texts from the Oregon Journal. Performances are continuous throughout the afternoon of December 20.




Second Sunday

“Designing America and Portland: The Olmsted Legacy”

Laurence Cotton & William J. Hawkins III 

Sunday, January 11 at 2 PM

Free and open to the public


The Olmsted Brothers architecture firm developed by Frederick Law Olmsted and sons John Charles and Frederick Law, Jr. left a lasting legacy across North America. An outspoken writer against slavery and a former head of the U.S. Sanitary Commission, Fredrick Olmsted Sr. is greatly remembered as the protector of Niagara Falls and the designer of the grounds of the famous Biltmore Estate. Son John Charles Olmsted laid the groundwork for the park systems and many university campuses in the Pacific Northwest; much of the greenscape and layout of today’s Portland can be traced to his influence.

Laurence Cotton, Consulting Producer on the new PBS film Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing America will lead a screening of this film followed by a discussion with architect William Hawkins III, author of the newly published book The Legacy of the Olmsted Brothers in Portland, Oregon.

History Pub

“C.E.S. Wood: Romancing Freedom”

Laurence Cotton and Tim Barnes

Monday, January 26 at 7 PM

McMenamins Kennedy School Theater

Free and open to the public


Soldier, attorney, poet, raconteur, artist, and art patron, Charles Erskine Scott Wood was one of Oregon’s most colorful citizens. A friend of Chief Joseph, Clarence Darrow, Emma Goldman, and Mark Twain, Wood’s romance with freedom made him a passionate defender of civil liberties and a leading progressive voice of early 20th century America. Wood left a profound, enlightening, and controversial legacy on Portland and the West Coast. The presentation includes a screening of the Oregon Experience film C.E.S. Wood.


Laurence Cotton is a historian, filmmaker, and co-producer of C.E.S. Wood,and Tim Barnes is a poet and co-editor of Woodworks, The Life and Writings of Charles Erskine Scott Woods.




Second Sunday

“OHS Welcomes The Skanner Archive”

Bernie and Bobbie Foster, interviewed by Kerry Tymchuk

Sunday, February 8 at 2 PM

Free and open to the public


Established in 1975, The Skanner News Group has advanced the cause of the black press in the Pacific Northwest for almost four decades. While producing a valuable newspaper and online resource, The Skanner has also amassed a trove of photographs documenting the lives, work, and experiences of African Americans in our region. With the donation of that photograph collection to the Oregon Historical Society, the images are now available to researchers and the public.


Join founders Bernie and Bobbie Foster in conversation with OHS Executive Director Kerry Tymchuk to learn about this history and view a selection of the photographs now available at the OHS Research Library.


History Pub

“Rethinking the Columbia River Treaty: Will We Get the Future Right This Time?”

John Shurts

Monday, February 23 at 7 PM

McMenamins Kennedy School Theater

Free and open to the public


The Columbia River Treaty of the 1960s between the United States and Canada is perhaps the classic example of a “benefits-sharing” international river treaty. Canada built three large storage reservoirs in the upstream portion of the Columbia River Basin, and for fifty years, the two nations have cooperated in system operations to provide flood control and power generation benefits downstream. Even so, the people who negotiated the Treaty designed it for a particular future, and the future turned out much different than expected. An opportunity to rethink this arrangement has arisen because of provisions in the Treaty. Representatives of the two nations need to ask themselves again: Are there new ways to cooperate on the Columbia River and bring greater total benefits to the people of the region?


John Shurts is General Counsel for Northwest Power and Conservation Council, and his recent work has included speaking and publishing on the Treaty. He has a PhD in American History from the University of Oregon as well as a law degree from the Lewis and Clark Law School.


Make Your Next Meeting Historic!


Are you a member of a group or organization that would like to learn more about the Oregon Historical Society? Invite an OHS volunteer docent to attend your next meeting to learn about the exciting programs and services YOUR Historical Society has to offer!


Please fill out the form below and return to Rachel Randles at or by mail to 1200 SW Park Avenue, Portland, OR 97205. Once we receive your request, we will connect you with a volunteer docent to further discuss your event.


Event Request Form (PDF)


Partner Events & Programs


Friends of the Library "Give Twice Holiday Sale"

Benefitting Multnomah County Libraries

Special 10% discount for OHS Members!

Make your holiday buying really count this year by shopping the "Give Twice Holiday Sale" at Central Library. You'll find gifts, toys, jewelry, cards, local art, the best prices on used books in Portland and complimentary gift wrap. Hosted by Friends of the Library, all proceeds benefit Multnomah County Libraries. In addition to benefiting your library, all OHS members will receive a 10% discount the entire month of December at the Friends Library Store and at the Give Twice Holiday Sale. More information at

Oregon Experience


Oregon Experience logo

Oregon Experience is a respected and long-standing community partnership between The Oregon Historical Society and Oregon Public Broadcasting. The strengths and assets of each organization merge together to produce historical documentaries that illuminate the grand heritage of our state.


OHS preserves and provides a vast collection of archival film, photographs and images from its vaults. Librarians and archivists work with OPB producers to find and make available these materials for use in the documentaries. Indeed, some of the materials showcased on Oregon Experience have never before been seen by the public.


OPB producers and editors, in turn, have the expertise to weave the components together into award winning documentaries that bring Oregon’s history to life.


Oregon Experience will engage and entertain you with stories about people and places - both familiar and forgotten – while building awareness of issues that have shaped Oregon in the past and continue to define its future.


We invite you to explore Oregon’s rich history through this unique partnership.


Upcoming Episodes:


Bull Run

Few other cities in the world have water as pure and as well protected as Portland. For nearly 115 years, an ingenious, gravity-fed system has delivered mountain rainwater from an isolated river called the Bull Run. Yet the rich history of Portland’s water supply has unfolded largely unbeknownst to the people it serves.


Air Date: Monday, December 15, 9:00 PM


Portland Noir

From shanghaied sailors to opium dens, Portland’s illicit past is legendary. But how much of it is true? Portland Noir examines Old Town’s sordid history.


Air Date: Monday, December 22, 9:30 PM


NEW! Oregon Historical Photo of the Week

Every week, Oregon Experience shares a photo highlighting the state's diverse, exciting history. All photos are courtesy of the Oregon Historical Society. Click for today's photo.

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