Winter 2009

Issue 110:4

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In this Issue:

Oregon Politics, Oregon Families, and the end of the Sesquicentennial 

by Robert D. Johnston

In his concluding essay for the journal’s statehood sesquicentennial series, guest editor Robert D. Johnston for contemplates the meaning of this anniversary celebration in the context of contemporary politics, cultural events and celebrations, and Oregon’s centennial celebration of 1959.  He also examines the work authors’ work for this issue, noting that the sesquicentennial has provocatively challenged Oregon’s historians to re-imagine the state’s political history, often focusing on personal and familiar connections to our shared past.

Moralistic Direct Democracy: Political Insurgents, Religion, and the State in Twentieth Century Oregon

by Lawrence M. Lipin and William Lunch

Historian Lawrence Lipin and political scientist William Lunch discuss Oregon’s use of the initiative and referendum process, noting that direct democracy was used most often in Oregon in two distinct periods — at the beginning of the twentieth century and in the century’s final decades.  The authors argue that the two periods were host to similar political grass-roots movements, characterized by a “populist moralism” in which Oregonians reacted against the perceived hegemony of an elite and moved to re-establish traditional values. Lipin and Lunch further note the ways populist political movements in both periods reignited long-standing political disagreements over the role of morality in Oregon public life.

Stories Worth Recording: Martha McKeown and the Documentation of Pacific Northwest Life

by Katrine Barber

Oral historian Katrine Barber introduces readers to the work of mid twentieth-century Pacific Northwest writer Martha McKeown, exploring McKeown’s literary oral history methods to generate a discussion of the practice of documenting oral history, both in Mckeown’s time and our own.  Examining primary source material housed at the Oregon Historical Society Research Library in conjunction with Mckeown’s published works, Barber ventures beyond Mckeown’s published narratives of her Alaska trailblazing uncle, Mort Hawthorne, to create a more detailed explanation of the manner in which Hawthorne’s “adventures” relate to modern ethnography and of the ways Mckeown’s own expression of the past relates to Oregonian’s conceptions of their frontier heritage.

Dorothea Lange’s Oregon Photography: Assumptions Challenged

by Linda Gordon

In October 2009, distinguished NYU professor and Dorothea Lange biographer Linda Gordon gave a talk in conjunction with the fall exposition at Portland State University of Dorethea Lange’s 1939 Oregon photographs.  Gordon highlighted the significance of Lange’s Oregon, making arguments about how the photographer was changed by her time in the state. That talk, along with numerous Lange photographs from Oregon, are included here.  They reflect the great depth and scope of Dorethea Lange’s work for the Farm Securities Administration during two trips to Oregon in 1939, and Gordon’s analysis expands their significance to Lange’s legacy by noting that multiple facets of her politics and vision are evident in the Oregon images.

“doing nothing with a vengeance”: The Diary of David Hobart Taylor, First Oregon Calvary, January 1 through May 30, 1862

by James Robbins Jewell

Following the attack on Fort Sumter in April 1861, President Lincoln called on each state to provide troops for the union.  Jackson County resident David Hobart Taylor mustered into the Army in 1862, and kept a diary through his first few months of service.  One of only a few first-person accounts of Civil War service in Oregon, the diary is printed in its entirety.  It serves as a detailed and intricate portrait of daily life in the military in Oregon in 1862.  Historian James Jewell has placed the diary in context with a thoughtful discussion of the unique manner in which Oregon’s companies were assembled as well as information regarding other known details of David Hobart Taylor’s life; he also provides extensive notes about the people and places mentioned in the diary.

Witness to Statehood: Delazon Smith’s Letter from Washington

by Geoffrey B. Wexler

Oregon Historical Society Research Library manager and archivist Geoffrey B. Wexler introduces and transcribes a letter from one of Oregon’s first U.S. Senators, Delazon Smith, written to his wife from the Senate chambers on the day of Oregon statehood, February 14, 2009.