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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July 4th Celebration in Prineville with the OHS Mt. Emily Shay Locomotive

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Free Train Rides from 9am - 3pm

Independence Day celebrations begin at 4pm


ALL ABOARD for an old-fashioned, all American 4th of July in Prineville, Oregon! This Independence Day, the Oregon Historical Society and the City of Prineville (COP) will run the Mt. Emily Shay #1 on a series of excursions beginning at 9 AM, with hourly runs until 3 PM. The Mt. Emily is a Shay steam locomotive built in 1923 which was designed to haul logs to the mill. It is one of only a handful of operable Shay locomotives left in the world, and it was donated to the Oregon Historical Society in the 1950s and has been lovingly cared for by the COP. Boarding will be at the COP Team Track located at 1521 NW Lamonta Road. These historic rides are FREE and open to the public and each run can accommodate 90-100 people. Following your train ride through Prineville, you and your family are welcome to join the 4th of July festivities taking place throughout town. Watch the Mt. Emily in action by clicking here.


Letters at Lunchtime WWII-Event

Wednesdays, July 8, 15, 22, and 29

12pm - 1pm

Oregon Historical Society

Free and open to the public


The Oregon Historical Society holds hundreds of letters written by servicemen and their families and friends during WWII, documenting many of the infinite experiences of that watershed event. In honor of the opening of our exhibit WWII: A World at War, a State Transformed we have selected a sampling of those letters to share over lunches. Bring your brown bag lunches, and join us as OHS staff and volunteers read from the letters. The programs will be multi-media experiences, with high-quality copies of letters available, allowing you to get even closer to these remarkable experiences, and images of WWII from our collections on display during the readings.


Book Talk

At the Hearth of the Crossed Races: A French-Indian Community in Nineteenth-Century Oregon, 1812-1859  

By Melinda Marie Jetté

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

7pm - 8:30 pm

Oregon Historical Society

Free and open to the public


The Oregon Historical Society & OSU Press invites you for the launch of Melinda Jette's new book, At the Hearth of the Crossed Races. In this work, Jetté delivers a social history that deepens our understanding of the Oregon Country in the nineteenth century. This history of French Prairie provides a window into the multi-racial history of the Pacific Northwest and offers an alternative vision of early Oregon in the lives of the biracial French-Indian families whose community challenged notions of white supremacy, racial separation, and social exclusion.


Melinda Marie Jetté is a native Oregonian and a descendant of the French Canadian men and Native women who resettled French Prairie. The recipient of a M.A. in History from Université Laval and a Ph.D from the University of British Columbia, she is Associate Professor of History at Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire.


Oregon through the Decades

Hosted by The Cabinet

Friday, July 10, 2015

7:30pm - 10pm

Oregon Historical Society

Tickets: $30 (add $20 to become an OHS member!)

Buy Tickets Now


oregon through the decades  


You're invited to drink, dance, and party like it's 1945… and 1975… and 1995… and 2005. Head back in time with the Oregon Historical Society's junior board, The Cabinet, at the party that is sure to be the event of the summer. Bust a move to the greatest hits from the past 70 years, and enjoy libations on the OHS Plaza overlooking the South Park Blocks.


Tickets are only $30, and include two drink vouchers, light appetizers, live music, dancing, and after-hours access to museum exhibits. Add an OHS membership to your event ticket for only $20 (a $60 value), and receive a year's worth of benefits including unlimited free admission to the OHS museum and research library, special event invitations and exhibition previews, and a subscription to the Oregon Historical Quarterly. A limited number of raffle tickets are also available; each ticket is $10 and enters you into a drawing for a "Portland Experience" basket featuring Trail Blazers tickets, local restaurant certificates, and more! All proceeds from this event directly support the work of the Oregon Historical Society.


Second Sunday WWII-Event

1942 Was Oregon's Most Exciting Year

By Dr. G. Thomas Edwards

Sunday, July 12, 2015

2pm – 3:30pm

Oregon Historical Society

Free and open to the public


Drawing on both memory and research, historian Dr. G. Thomas Edwards will tell the stories of how World War II immediately brought massive changes to Oregon. Dr. Edwards cites many events as creating excitement in Oregon during 1942, including, for example: Japanese attacks and civilian defense on the coast, including armed guerrillas and first aid classes; Oregonians moving from small towns across the state to shipyard jobs in Portland; removal of Japanese Americans to incarceration camps and arrival of Latinos and African Americans for wartime work in the state; construction of Camp Adair and Vanport; and enrollment of 9,000 into the Oregon State Guard.


Living in Taft (now part of Lincoln City) at the time, Dr. Edwards participated in the war effort by collecting paper and metal, and buying war stamps and a war bond. Since then, he earned a BA in history from Willamette University and an M.A. and PhD from the University of Oregon and has researched, written, and spoken on the Second World War numerous times. His publications on the subject include the photo essay, "Red Heads to War Dogs: Taft, 1941–1943," Oregon Historical Quarterly, Fall 2011. This program is presented in association with OHS' exhibit, WWII: A World at War, A State Transformed.


Book Talk

Exit Wounds: Soldiers' Stories - Life after Iraq and Afghanistan

By Jim Lommasson

Sunday, July 19, 2015

2pm – 3:30pm

Oregon Historical Society

Free and open to the public


Jim Lommasson will discuss his new book, Exit Wounds: Soldiers' Stories - Life after Iraq and Afghanistan, show slides, read excerpts from his interviews, and talk about what he learned from returning soldiers from the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. Jim's work comes from his belief that, as a society, we need to understand that a consequence of sending soldiers to war is that the war comes home with every veteran. Exit Wounds deals with the effects of the United States' wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by focusing – in photographs and interviews -- on returning American soldiers as they reintegrate into civilian life. It is an ongoing collaborative effort, documenting in images and words the personal experiences and stories of these veterans. In addition to their own experiences, they bring home first-hand knowledge of the impact of war on the civilians caught in the crossfire. The soldiers need to tell their stories, and we need to hear them. 



Claire Phillips: Oregon's Legendary Actress and Spy

By Sig Unander

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

7pm - 8:30pm

Oregon Historical Society

Free and open to the public


Author, speaker, and filmmaker Sig Unander will highlight the life of Claire Phillips Snyder, the only Oregon woman to receive America's highest civilian decoration. Phillips was a Portland stage actress and singer whose espionage and humanitarian work as a guerilla leader in the Philippine Resistance during World War II brought her fame and widespread recognition. Caught up in the Japanese occupation of the Philippines after the American and Philippine Army surrendered on Bataan in 1942, Phillips ran a glamorous Manila nightclub, continually risking her life to aid sick and starving prisoners of war and collect intelligence for the war effort. Betrayed, she underwent brutal torture by enemy secret police but survived to tell her story in a memoir that became a Hollywood movie.


A national celebrity and activist who worked on behalf of former military prisoners, she was presented a new home in Beaverton by Oregon Governor Douglas MacKay and Portland Mayor Dorothy McCullough Lee. Unander will present material from his research, including rare archival photos and audio recordings of Phillips. He will detail her life in the context of Philippine, United States, and Oregon history and discuss his upcoming book on Phillips, Lonely Courage.



A Pictorial History of Oregon: Hand-colored Glass Lantern Slides from the Oregon Historical Society

By Matthew Cowan, OHS Archivist for Photography & Moving Images

Thursday, July 30, 2015

6:30pm - 8pm

Des Chutes Historical Museum

Free and open to the public


The Oregon Historical Society and the Deschutes County Historical Society are pleased to present A Pictorial History of Oregon – a history of the state from James Cook's early coastal forays in 1778 to the construction of the St. Johns Bridge in Portland in 1931. Comprising approximately 100 lantern slides, this show was originally put together as a public educational program by the Colonial Dames of America in approximately 1935. With the assistance of Doug Kenck-Crispin, of Kick Ass Oregon History, images are projected using an original Bausch & Lomb projector (circa 1935). We will also use the original handwritten notes to narrate the slides.


Following the main program we will project a small selection of slides with images from around Deschutes County, the Klamath Region and Eastern Oregon in general. A special emphasis will be made towards slides that highlight some of the outdoor recreation spots Oregon is known for - from Crater Lake to Mt Hood.


The majority of slides in this program are hand-colored and were produced between approximately 1915-1935.




Second Sunday

WWII-EventGood Work, Sister! Women Shipyard Workers of WWII, an Oral History

An audio-visual production of the Northwest Women’s History Project

Sunday, August 9 at 2 PM

Free and open to the public


During World War II, American women were actively recruited into defense jobs for the war effort. They were encouraged to enter skilled trades that had formerly been exclusive to men. This documentary presentation tells the stories of women who went to work in the shipyards of Portland, Oregon, and Vancouver, Washington, between 1942 and 1945. In their own words, Good Work, Sister! illustrates the women’s problems and successes and describes the context in which skilled shipbuilding jobs were opened, and later closed, to women.


Oregon Transformed Series WWII-Event

"WWII Legacies on the Columbia River"

Dr. Linda Tamura, Dr. Bill Lang, & Dr. Carl Abbott

Thursday, August 20 at 7 PM

Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum | 5000 Discovery Drive, The Dalles

Free and open to the public

Presented in partnership with theColumbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum


The "Oregon Transformed" series considers long-term impacts of World War II in local regions around the state within broad thematic frameworks. Presenters in The Dalles will address the themes of "consent and dissent" and "revisions to the landscape" by discussing subjects including return of Nikkei after the war; the commitment to USACE "Main Control Plan," leading directly to The Dalles Dam, and the environmental challenges to post-war aluminum industry over fluoride emissions; and Hanford and Richland "planned communities." Panelists will offer carefully prepared presentations, leaving plenty of time for audience questions and discussions.


This program is presented in association with the Oregon Historical Society's exhibit WWII: A World at War, A State Transformed. The pre-program dinner will include Jerked chicken sliders, cole slaw, corn on the cob, potato salad, peach pie for $15. Questions about her family heritage led Linda Tamura, author and Professor of Education Emerita at Willamette University, to write about Japanese Americans during World War II and how her community responded. Carl Abbott is Professor Emeritus of Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State University and the author of several books on the history of the American West. William L.  Lang is Emeritus Professor of History at PSU and a member of OHS Board of Trustees.


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


Veterans' Legacies Project Benefit Event

Presented by the Historical Outreach Foundation

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

5:30pm - 8pm

Oregon Historical Society

$25 | Buy Tickets Now


Join the Historical Outreach Foundation for a special evening honoring those who have served our country. Hear from representatives of the Veterans' Legacies Project,, and the Library of Congress. View images taken during WWII from the newly uncovered Ralph Appleman Collection. Enjoy a private outdoor reception with featured wines from Stoller Family Estate and light refreshments, and tour the newly opened Oregon Historical Society exhibition World War II: A World at War, A State Transformed. Proceeds from this event support the Veterans' Legacies Project.

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.

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