Fall 2009

Issue 110:3

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In this Issue:

Democracy and Its Discontents in Oregon Political History

by Robert D. Johnson

In this introductory essay, guest editor Robert D. Johnston weaves together themes from Kimberly Jenson, Cheryl Gunselman, and Robert R. McCoy’s articles in the third installment of the Quarterly’s sesquicentennial series, cogently discussing a further concept — “democracy” as it applies to Oregon politics and the greater union.  His conclusions run a course back to the complex meanings of American Populism and the long-standing question of public ownership of the political process.

Revolutions in the Machinery: Oregon Women and Citizenship in Sesquicentennial Perspective

by Kimberly Jensen

In the spirit of this sesquicentennial series, Kimberly Jensen documents the evolution of women’s citizenship rights in Oregon from the days of territorial law to the present.  Grounded in a discussion of Oregon political history, and aligning her analysis with the theoretical models suggested by historians of gender and legal status, Jensen traces the progress of Oregon women’s suffrage and citizenship rights and discusses the organizations and individuals who shaped the debate over women’s access to the state’s powerful government and institutions.

“Wheedling, Wangling, and Walloping” for Progress: The Public Service Career of Cornelia Marvin Pierce, 1905–1943

by Cheryl Gunselman

Cheryl Gunselman illuminates Cornelia Marvin Pierce’s eclectic record of service to the state of Oregon, highlighting the two largely distinct phases of her work: her earlier career as head of the Oregon Library Commission and Oregon State Librarian, and her later career as the informal architect of her husband Walter Pierce’s political platform.  Gunselman’s exhaustive research into Marvin Pierce’s papers reveals the deeply personal ideals behind her Progressive Era reforms and New Deal Era politics, a fact that is complicated by her connections to the eugenics movement and early opposition to woman suffrage — positions that may seem counter-reformist to many readers but which actually illustrate complex historical realities.

The Paradox of Oregon’s Progressive Politics: The Political Career of Walter Marcus Pierce

by Robert R. McCoy

Robert R. McCoy provocatively argues that Walter M. Pierce’s relative obscurity — particularly in discussions of dynamic and important twentieth-century Oregon politicians — is perhaps unwarranted, and he offers that Pierce’s ability to simultaneously articulate and legislate what is presently characterized as oppositional political positions and agendas was due to the fact that he embodied two forms of middle class populism.  In this light, Pierce’s reformist political beliefs and nativist tendencies can be reframed, and in doing so, the particular Progressive Era politics Pierce embodies may be better evaluated.

Exhibit Essay
Life Stories for New Generations: The Living Art of Oregon Tribal Regalia

by Rebecca J. Dobkins

Rebecca Dobkins examines the ways in which personal friendships among indigenous artists from Oregon and New Zealand inspired The Art of Ceremony: Regalia of Native Oregon, an extraordinary exhibition of regalia created and used by Oregon tribal members.  Images of many of the masterworks that are on display in the exhibit illustrate the article and accompany a revealing discussion of the behind the scenes work of acquisition and display, in which Dobkins describes how she and tribal members worked together to curate the exhibit.

Oregon Places
An Expensive Stable: The Value in Saving Portland’s Ladd Carriage House

by Brandon Spencer-Hartle

Brandon Spencer-Hartle scoured city records, accessed independent company and institutional data, and searched the Oregon Historical Society archives to create a portrait of the Ladd Carriage House past and present, one befitting of the landmark’s tumultuous journey to its contemporary location and recently renovated condition.  In the process, Spencer-Hartle reveals much about the landmark’s owners, champions, and detractors, beginning with a detailed discussion of William Sargent Ladd and his place in Portland’s history.

Research Files
Oregon’s Historic Sites Database: A Tool for Tapping the Research Potential of the Built Environment

by Roger Roper

Roger Roper of the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) introduces readers to the Historic Sites Database, SHPO’s detailed record of the historic buildings of Oregon and their historically significant aspects.  He outlines the particular search features of that database, explaining how they can assist historians by analyzing (statistically and otherwise) the buildings in which the moments of Oregonians’ lives often played out.