2021 Joel Palmer Award


On January 4, 1971, two plain-clothed FBI agents, who did not identify themselves, entered the James family home in North Portland, Oregon, to arrest Charles James, Jr., who had been declared AWOL from the Navy. Cheryl D. James, then seventeen years old, witnessed one of the agents putting her younger brother in a chokehold, and he was unable to breathe. She hit the agent over the head with a rolling pin and was violently arrested later that day in her home by about a dozen armed agents. In April 1971, Cheryl, a minor, was convicted of assault, resisting arrest, and opposing FBI agents with a dangerous weapon (a rolling pin) and sentenced to eighteen months at Terminal Island prison in San Pedro, California. In this research article, Jane Cigarran documents the case of Cheryl D. James “as a microcosm of what was happening across the country at the time,” and how it revealed the racial politics in Portland during the 1960s and 1970s. Her case, Cigarran argues, “offers a glimpse into how a system of ‘law and order’ that is supposed to protect and serve proved fundamentally set up to fail Black women in Portland.”

Honorable Mentions

Pioneer Problems: ‘Wanton Murder,’ Indian War Veterans, and Oregon's Violent History (Summer 2020)
by Marc James Carpenter

In this research article, Marc James Carpenter examines the Indian War Veterans of the North Pacific Coast (IWV-NPC), an organization founded by former volunteer soldiers in Oregon and Washington, and how their efforts to reshape historical memory fit within the larger pioneer narrative of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries — a narrative that often skewed Euro-American violence against Native people. Pioneer societies and historians during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries distorted these historical narratives through omission, ignoring settlers’ violence toward Native people and condemning their retribution. As Carpenter suggests, “a true history of the Pacific Northwest must reckon with the legions of Euro-American pioneers who, during the 1840s, the 1850s, and beyond, pursued pogroms and inflicted acts of workaday racial violence in pursuit of a White ethno-state.”

Clara Bewick Colby and the Oregon Woman Suffrage Campaign of 1905–1906 (Spring 2020)
by Kristin Mapel Bloomberg

Clara Bewick Colby arrived in Oregon in 1904 and was one of Oregon’s primary fieldworkers during the state’s 1905 to 1906 woman suffrage campaign. In this research article, Kristin Mapel Bloomberg analyzes Colby’s detailed campaign fieldwork records to reveal how “activists conducted their work, building on prior movement strategies by systematizing a professional class of suffrage workers into a centrally organized campaign.” Colby spent her early years as a foot soldier of the movement in Beatrice, Nebraska, where she “wielded her political acumen on the speaker’s platform and as publisher of the influential The Woman’s Tribune (1883–1909), the second-longest-running woman’s rights journal in the United States.” By the time she arrived in Oregon in 1904, she had “ascended to and fallen from the heights of suffrage influence,” but as Bloomberg describes, Oregon held promise and Colby worked tirelessly to collect signatures to put a state constitutional change on the ballot. While the 1905–1906 campaign was imperfect and ultimately failed, it helped establish strategies that would be used successfully in future campaigns.