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 Events


Letters at Lunchtime

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

12pm - 1pm

Oregon Historical Society

Free and open to the public

*World War II Event*


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.


Lantern Slide Show

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.

August Events


Book Talk

Fire Mission!: The Siege at Mortain, Normandy

Robert Weiss

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

7pm – 8pm

Oregon Historical Society

Free and open to the public

*World War II Event*


In August 1944, a few hundred men defended a hill near Mortain, France, against a massive German counterattack. For most of the six days and nights of fighting, the Americans were cut off from supply lines, fighting for survival without adequate food, water, medical supplies, or ammunition. The decisive artillery defense, much of which was launched by forward observer Robert Weiss, has been credited with making the difference in this pivotal battle of the Normandy invasion. With only one radio, powered by dying batteries, Weiss and his team brought down a rain of brutal iron that time after time turned back the German offensive.


Weiss details this event and his service during World War II in Fire Mission!: The Siege at Mortain, Normandy. Join OHS Executive Director Kerry Tymchuk for a special Q&A with author Robert Weiss, who received the Legion of Honor from the French government for these experiences.


Opening Reception

Exhibition: UNEARTHED: Hand Colored Slides of Early Twentieth-Century Portland Gardens from the Oregon Historical Society

Friday, August 7, 2015

6pm – 9pm

Newspace Center for Photography

Free and open to the public


The Oregon Historical Society (OHS) and Newspace Center for Photography are proud to present a small exhibit of hand colored photographs of Portland gardens from ca. 1920 – 1935 called UNEARTHED. These images, all from the OHS permanent collection, were created by George C. Stephenson (1866-1940) on behalf of the Portland Garden Club (PGC). Following the First World War an effort was made to record the beautiful yet quickly disappearing estate gardens in and around Portland. Stephenson, the official photographer of the PGC, created hundreds of slides locally – many of which document the famed Portland gardens of the time, including the Kerr and Frank Estates (now Lewis and Clark College). All images were then colored by hand, taking great pains to accurately record the color palette of each garden or plant subject. In addition to public programs, the exhibit will include enlargements of select images as well as the display of the slides themselves at Newspace. The exhibit is on display from August 7 through September 26.


Series: Second Sunday

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

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

Sunday, August 9, 2015

2pm - 3:30pm

Oregon Historical Society

Free and open to the public

*World War II Event*


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.


Lantern Slide Show

UNEARTHED: Hand Colored Slides of Early Twentieth-Century Portland Gardens from the Oregon Historical Society

Friday, August 14, 2015

6:30pm – 8pm

Newspace Center for Photography

Free and open to the public


Join us for a slide show presentation and narration of hand-colored lantern slides of early twentieth-century Portland gardens. The slide show will be orchestrated by Matthew Cowan, Archivist for the Moving Images and Photography Collection at the Oregon Historical Society, and slide show narration will be presented by Suzanne Bishop, chair of the Garden History committee at the Portland Garden Club, and Tricia Hoffman, Executive Director of Newspace Center for Photography. This is presented in partnership with the UNEARTHED exhibition, on display through September 26 at Newspace.


Series: Oregon Transformed

WWII Legacies on the Columbia River

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

Thursday, August 20, 2015

7pm - 8:30pm

Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum

Free and open to the public

*World War II Event*


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 and is presented in partnership with the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum. 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.


Special Event

Celebrity Chocolate Cake Contest

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

12pm – 1pm

Oregon Historical Society

Free and open to the public


The 150th Oregon State Fair will open on Friday, August 28.  For the past 56 years, the sole judge of the State Fair's Chocolate Cake Contest has been the one and only Gerry Frank—public servant, businessman, philanthropist, author, and cheerleader for all things Oregon. To celebrate the Fair's historic sesquicentennial, OHS will be hosting a Celebrity Chocolate Cake Contest in Portland with Gerry as the judge. Come and watch as Gerry tastes creations from the likes of Portland First Lady Nancy Hales, Oregonian Editor Mark Katches, Portland State University President Wim Wiewel, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, and a dozen other community leaders and media personalities. Gerry will declare a winner and then the audience will be invited to join in the tasting!


Series: History Pub

Home Front Stories of World War II

Monday, August 31, 2015

7pm – 9pm

McMenamins Kennedy School Theater

Free and open to the public

*World War II Event*


Join us for beer and history, sponsored by the Oregon Historical Society, Holy Names Heritage Center, and McMenamins, in which you'll hear lively local or regional history while you enjoy a frosty pint or two of handcrafted ale. This month, listen to stories from individuals who worked on the Oregon home front during World War II. The panel will include: Harry Hendricks, who worked the graveyard shift at Vancouver's Kaiser Shipyard as a teenager; Ellen McFadden, who served as one of the nation's youngest certified Red Cross volunteers at Portland's Union Station canteen; Jean Matsumoto, who was sent with her family to Idaho's Minidoka Relocation Center where she was interned for three years; and Sharon Williams, who experienced wartime conditions as a young child growing up in North Portland.

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

Oregon Experience


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 episodes engage and entertain 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.


Oregon Historical Photo of the Week


OHS also proudly partners with OPB on a weekly web series showcasing some of the photographs that were digitized for use in Oregon Experience episodes. Click here to see the latest posts featuring photos from our collection as well as collections around the state!

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