Spring 2011

Issue 112:1

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In this Issue:

A Lovely but Unpredictable River: Frances Fuller Victor’s Early Life and Writing

by Sheri Bartlett Browne

Frances Fuller Victor (1826–1902) was a significant historian of Oregon and the Far West in the late nineteenth century. Yet, before making Oregon her home in 1864, she was a successful author already. Examining Victor’s poetry, essays, and travel accounts written as a young woman, historian Sheri Bartlett Browne makes two compelling claims: Victor’s life and writing must be placed within a larger cultural and historical context of American women’s literary contributions; and Victor’s early works form an important intellectual bridge to her later perceptive analyses of Oregon and the West.

Silver Falls State Park and the Early Environmental Movement

by Zeb Larson

Environmentalism in the early twentieth century began with two movements: conservation and preservation. Conservation stressed the wise use of limited resources, while preservationists tried to protect wilderness areas from commercial developments. At the turn of the century, these two movements seemed to be in direct opposition to each other. Nevertheless, historian Zeb Larson argues, the values from both movements are evident in the creation of Silver Falls State Park, much of which was constructed as make-work projects during the Great Depression. Through restoring landscapes damaged by fire and logging, creating structures that blend with the landscape, and building youth camps, the park’s designers and managers drew on beliefs from both environmental ideologies as well as the aesthetics of the Arts and Crafts movement. Today, Silver Falls is the largest state park in Oregon.

Oregon Voices
Read You Mutt! The Life and Times of Tom Burns, The Most Arrested Man in Portland

by Peter Sleeth

Tom Burns trooped into Portland in 1905 with a chip on his shoulder and a pile-driving desire to right social wrongs. Whether you called him a socialist, anarchist, or Roosevelt Democrat, Burns believed he had one mission in life: To ensure that everyone had enough before anyone had too much. Portland writer and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Peter Sleeth provides the most complete biography of Burns, who has made appearances in numerous historians’ works. Drawing on extensive newspaper and archival research, as well as personal memory and interviews, Sleeth demonstrates connections between Burns’s childhood in the Dickensian tenements of Liverpool, England, and his intellectual integrity and free speech fights and illustrates how Burns evolved from street-fighting activist into the type of middle-class radical that helped shape the city’s politics and mores from 1905 to 1957.

Oregon Voices
Oregon Peace Corps Volunteers: Letters from Nigeria, 1964–1965

by Jerry and Liisa Fagerlund

The Peace Corps was only two years old in 1963, when Jerry and Liisa (Watkins) Fagerlund, students at the University of Oregon, signed on as volunteers. They were assigned to the newly independent country of Nigeria in West Africa, teaching at a boys boarding school in the Northern Region. Their article draws on letters written home to tell two stories: “Diary of a Teacher,” consisting of excerpts describing the evolving teaching experience, and “Bush Trek by Motorbike and Canoe,” an account of an adventurous journey along trails and across rivers in the Nigerian bush country. The article is illustrated by a map and photographs, many taken by Jerry Fagerlund during their time in Nigeria.

Research Files
The Army in the Woods: Spruce Production Division Records at the National Archives

by Kathleen Crosman

Kathleen Crosman of the National Archives at Seattle introduces readers to the possibilities of doing genealogy research in the records of the Spruce Production Division. During World War I, troops were based in the forests and mills of the Pacific Northwest, and the National Archives at Seattle has the correspondence of 150 field squadrons and companies, district offices, and the headquarters cantonment at the Vancouver Barracks in Vancouver, Washington. Crosman outlines possible search routes and describes the type of information that is available in the squadron and headquarters correspondence. The squadron correspondence tells a story of the soldiers’ lives — their pay, their complaints, their requests, the routines of military operations even in the middle of the forest, and the semi-civilian feel of a military unit in which most soldiers were working on civilian tasks.

Local History Spotlight
Archaeology, History, and Community: An Enduring Legacy at Beatty, Klamath County

by Thomas Connolly

When the Oregon Department of Transportation began work to fix a dangerous highway curve, they undertook archaeological exploration that produced important information. Located within the boundaries of the former Klamath Reservation when created in 1864, the Beatty Curve archaeological site had been home to ancestors of the modern Klamath Tribes for millennia. Investigations at the site revealed evidence of the pre-reservation fur trade era and the establishment of a post-treaty Native homestead — possibly of a significant chief. The site continues to be recognized by the modern Klamath community as a tangible link to their ancient home and heritage.

Local History Spotlight
The Old Wasco County Courthouse: Still Making History after 152 Years

by Karl Vercouteren

History-minded citizens of The Dalles rescued the 1859 Original Wasco County Courthouse in the mid 1970s. Karl Vercouteren tells how the courthouse preservation group saved a building that played a major role in Eastern Oregon’s history and how they generate and preserve history through an annual forum that features local and regional historians. The collection of recordings of those speakers over a thirty-year period constitutes a treasury of resources that the Original Courthouse is making available to the public.