2014 Joel Palmer Award


Black and Blue: Police-Community Relations in Portland's Albina District, 1964­-1985
Spring 2013

By Leanne C. Serbulo and Karen J. Gibson

As in many cities across America, the relationship between African Americans in Portland, Oregon, and the city police force was fraught with tension through the late twentieth century. Scholars Leanne Serbulo and Karen Gibson argue that Portland's African Americans, who collectively made up less than ten percent of Portland residents and were segregated into neighborhoods including the Albina district, experienced police as figures of colonial oppression. The authors chronicle how, over two decades bordered by African Americans' deaths at the hands of police, neighborhood activists attempted to reform the police department and met resistance. The authors conclude that transformation of the relationship between police and the black community could have been accomplished only through strong action by elected officials.

Honorable Mentions

Curiosity or Cure?: Chinese Medicine and American Orientalism in Progressive Era California and Oregon
Fall 2013

by Tamara Venit Shelton

Despite improved medicine and surgery techniques used by traditional doctors during the Progressive Era, many patients - particularly women -were drawn to "irregular" doctors. During the late 1890s, the American Medical Association launched an aggressive campaign against non-traditional doctors, finding in Chinese doctors and herbalists useful targets due to American Orientalist presumptions of racial inferiority. Drawing on advertisements, business cards, and promotional material produced by irregular doctors in California and Oregon, historian Tamara Venit Shelton argues that Chinese doctors and herbalists capitalized on their perceived exoticism and appropriated anti-Chinese stereotypes to forge ties with Euro-American and non-Chinese neighbors and patients - a devil's bargain, as Chinese doctors limited themselves to the margins of American medicine.

Populists, Dreamers, and the Citizens Who Built Oregon’s 1938 Capitol
Spring 2013

by Floyd J. McKay

In the midst of the Great Depression, the State of Oregon had to rebuild its Capitol after a 1935 fire. State legislators haggled over specifications, projecting the competing social and economic concerns of their constituents - urban and rural, businessmen and populist farmers - into the fray. Historian Floyd McKay recounts the sustained debates in Salem, with state figures such as Gov. Charles Martin and regional representatives like Grange-backed Peter Zimmerman. Following several pitched battles in the 1935 special legislative session officials deferred authority to another volunteer body, the Capitol Reconstruction Commission (CRC). McKay, who scoured the archives of local newspapers and CRC records, contends such citizen groups are instrumental to Oregon's experiment with direct democracy, and suggests that their import is evident with the creation of a unique Capitol building.