2016 Joel Palmer Award


"Criminal Operations": The First Fifty Years of Abortion Trials in Portland, Oregon (Spring 2015)
by Michael Helquist

Although Oregon adopted its first anti-abortion law in 1854, Portland's first prosecution of a "criminal operation" (abortion) did not occur for nearly twenty years. The Oregonian coverage of abortion trials from 1870 to 1920 reveals many obstacles prosecutors faced during that time, including lack of sufficient evidence and ambiguities in the state's anti- abortion law. Through case studies and data collected from Oregonian articles during that time period, Michael Helquist explores Portland's early abortion trials that highlight "the nuanced and disparate reactions of physicians who found themselves on the front lines of abortion services, policies, and enforcement." Helquist argues that "an understanding of the conflicts over reproductive policy [is] as important to women's and the nation's history as the struggle to achieve woman suffrage and other rights of citizenship."

Honorable Mentions

"The Job was Big, but the Man Doing it was Bigger": The Forgotten Role of Thomas B. Watters in Klamath Termination, 1953­-1958
by Matthew Villeneuve

Matthew Villeneuve argues that "much of the history of Klamath termination can be understood as a story that hinged on whose voices were the loudest, whose voices decision makers believed spoke on behalf of others, and whose voices were silenced entirely." In 1955, Thomas B. Watters became a Management Specialist charged with overseeing the Tribes' separation from the federal government and, as such, his voice was disproportionately loud. Rather than use his position to silence Klamath concerns, however, he joined calls to Congress to revise the terms of the Tribes' separation. Studying Watters's role "offers compelling support for the understanding of termination as a program not of emancipation but of abandonment."

Hitting the Trail: Live Displays of Native American, Filipino, and Japanese People at the Portland World's Fair
by Emily Trafford

The Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition ­—held in Portland, Oregon, between June 1 and October 15, 1905 —garnered over one and a half million visits, paying tribute to the nation's westward expansion and new commercial and immigration ties to Asia. At the world's fair, visitors experienced a series of live-display concessions that included Native Americans, Filipino, and Japanese performers dressed in costume and participating in "sensational ceremonies." Emily Trafford explores those live displays and argues that they "were important cultural arenas for the perpetuation and rehearsal of racism." She explains: "Rather than providing an object and definitive lesson on a particular nation or populace, the concessions worked together to create a site at which white supremacy could be exercised in its various and changeable forms."