Spring 2010

Issue 111:1

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In this Issue:

Desegregation and Multiculturalism in the Portland Public Schools 

by Ethan Johnson and Felicia Williams

Ethan Johnson and Felicia Williams trace the history of desegregation in Portland Public Schools from William Brown’s 1867 attempt to enroll his African-American children into elementary school to the Portland school closings and mandatory busing programs of the late twentieth century.  They tell a complex story that often mirrors and is influenced by the trends of desegregation and multiculturalism in American society at large but also illustrates Oregon’s unique and complex history in regard to race relations.  Johnson and William rely on exhaustive research at the archives of the Oregon Historical Society, Portland Public Schools, and the City of Portland as well as contemporary newspaper accounts to unearth an important history told only sporadically before.

She Flies with her Own Wings: Women in the 1973 Oregon Legislative Session 

by Tara Watson and Melody Rose

Tara Watson and Melody Rose analyze the significant outpouring of feminist legislation passed by the 1973 Oregon Legislature, arguing that the work of talented and motivated female legislatures who spearheaded much of the legislation is only part of the explanation for their unique success.  Utilizing many secondary sources on political history and theory and drawing on oral histories collected from members of the 1973 session, the authors re-evaluate this “second wave” of Oregon feminism.  They conclude that preconceived notions of 1970s identity politics do not allow for a proper understanding of the complex way this particular group of women realized their objectives.

The Wartime Correspondence of Monroe Sweetland and Lillie Megrath Sweetland 

by William G. Robbins

Somewhat radical political activists Monroe and “Lil” Sweetland built a lasting legacy of service to leftist causes and to Oregon and the nation throughout the twentieth century.  During World War II, Monroe’s Red Cross work in the Pacific and Lil’s work for the Nation Labor Relations Board in Washington D.C. kept the married couple separated for well over a year, and historian William G. Robbins has scoured three extensive Oregon Historical Society collections to reproduce their personal wartime correspondence, revealing much about their fears, interests, and aspirations, both for themselves and the nation.  Robbins greatly extends our understanding of the private motivations and concerns behind these public figures.

The Correspondence of Ralph Radcliffe Whitehead, July 1900: Douglas firs, Life, and the Ideal

by James J. Kopp

English born philanthropist Ralph Radcliffe Whitehead’s search for a suitable site for an arts colony brought him and a traveling companion to Oregon in 1900.  During his exploration of the state, he wrote a series of letters to his wife — Jane Byrd McCall Whitehead — that reveal much about the people, life, and natural beauty of Oregon at the turn on the century.  James Kopp’s detailed research in Oregon and in collections housed on the East Coast provides context for understanding Whitehead’s later work in successfully founding an artists colony as having been partially based in the realizations he gained through writing to his wife during long days in Oregon.