What's Happening?

From our interactive museum exhibits to our Research Library to our premier meeting

and event space, there's always something fun happening at the Oregon Historical

Society. See below for upcoming events.

Unless otherwise noted, programs take place at the Oregon Historical Society building in downtown Portland (1200 SW Park Avenue) and are free of charge with museum 

admission. Click on links or call (503) 222-1741 for more information.



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Archaeology Roadshow

Saturday, May 30, 2015

10am – 3pm

Portland State University Campus

Free and open to the Public


With a focus on the "Archaeology of Food," the 2015 Archaeology Road show will bring together community partners including universities, tribes, agencies, companies, historical societies, students and the general public to celebrate and explore archaeology and history, in our own backyard and beyond. Join the Oregon Historical Society at this fun program with plenty of activities and information for people of all backgrounds, ages, and abilities! More information, including a video of last year's event, is available here.


Reciprocal Membership Program

May 1 - June 30, 2015

Free Admission to the Washington County Museum & Rice Museum of Rocks and Minerals for OHS Members


Local attractions are collaborating to offer expanded benefits to members in 2015. Members can show their proof of membership, along with a photo ID, to gain admission for up to four people at a different attraction each month, regardless of their level of membership.


For BOTH months of May & June, OHS Members can use their membership cards to access free admission to the Washington County Museum and Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals. Plan a day trip to Hillsboro to explore local history and view world-class rocks and gemstones.





The Heisman Trophy

June 5 – 7, 2015 (times listed below)

Free Admission


The 2014 Heisman Trophy, presented to the University of Oregon in recognition of the accomplishments of quarterback Marcus Mariota, will be on display at the Oregon Historical Society from Friday, June 5 through Sunday, June 7. Through a sponsorship donation from Nike, admission to the Oregon Historical Society will be free all weekend. First awarded in 1935 by the Downtown Athletic Club of New York City, the Heisman is presented annually to the NCAA football player whose performance exemplifies the pursuit of excellence with integrity. The practice of awarding two trophies each year began in 1968, with one trophy going to the chosen player and another to the school represented by the winner. 


Hours of the Heisman Trophy exhibit at the Oregon Historical Society are as follows:


Friday, June 5, 2015: 10am – 8pm

Saturday, June 6, 2015: 10am – 5pm

Sunday, June 7, 2015: 12pm – 3pm


Oregon Transformed SeriesWWII-Event

"Legacies of WWII on the Coast"

Dr. David Lewis, Steve McQuiddy, and Dr. Laura Jane Gifford

Friday, June 12 at 7 PM

Cannon Beach History Center and Museum

1387 S Spruce St.

Presented in partnership with the Cannon Beach History Center & Museum


The "Oregon Transformed" series considers long-term impacts of World War II in local regions around the state within broad thematic frameworks. Presenters in Cannon Beach will address the theme of "consent and dissent" by discussing subjects including Conscientious Objectors who lived and worked on the coast during the war, the attack on Fort Stevens its treatment by policymakers and the media, and the work of Tribes during the war and their Termination in the post-war period. Panelists will offer carefully prepared presentations, leaving plenty of time for audience questions and discussions.


This program is presented in association with the Oregon Historical Society's exhibit WWII: A World at War, A State Transformed, and the Cannon Beach History Center & Museum's exhibit WWII on the Oregon Coast, which celebrates the 70th Anniversary of the end of WWII by exploring the events and emotions of a state at war. Dr. Laura Jane Gifford is a historian of modern American politics with a special interest in the unique dynamics of Oregon's political landscape. Steve McQuiddy is the author of Here on the Edge, the story of how a small group of World War II conscientious objectors plowed the ground for the social and cultural revolutions of the 1960s; he writes and lectures on the eccentric margins of Pacific Northwest history. Dr. David G. Lewis is an independent educator, author, and anthropology researcher who lives in Salem, Oregon, in the homeland of his people, the Santiam Kalapuya.

Second Sunday

"Constituted Bodies: How Oregon's Racial and Gendered Exclusions Compared to Contemporary Constitutions"
Jacki Hedlund Tyler, PhD
Sunday, June 14 at 2 PM
Free and open to the public


Oregon's original constitution represented legal exclusions both reflective and contrary to other state and territorial laws on the eve of the Civil War. In significant ways, however, Oregon's exclusions challenged perceptions of American citizenship and established legal precedents for legislation to restrict specific groups from political and natural rights. The racial and gendered exclusions of Oregon's constitution, in particular, provoked national discussion about issues of slavery, immigration, property-ownership, naturalization, and suffrage, while also questioning the authority of Congress over states' rights. Jacki Hedlund Tyler, who recently earned her Ph.D. at Washington State University, was the 2014 Donald J. Sterling, Jr., Graduate Fellow in Pacific Northwest History at the Oregon Historical Society. Her dissertation is titled "Power of Political Chatter: Settler Colonialism and the Construction of Race, Gender, and Citizenship in Oregon.” She has presented at many conferences and has published an article in the journal Western Legal History and entries in two volumes of Icons of Black America: Breaking Barriers and Crossing Boundaries.


Preservation Workshop

“Navigating Visual Collections: Access and Preservation of Moving Image and Photographic Materials”
Matthew Cowan, OHS Archivist for Photography & Moving Images
NOTE DATE CHANGE: Saturday, June 20 at 10 AM
Oregon Historical Society
$20, $15 for OHS members
Buy Tickets Now


Films, videos, photographs and certain digital materials are often the most cherished of our private collections but many questions arise from identification and access to best methods for long term care. This workshop will cover basic questions of identification, storage and legacy issues as well as what it means to “digitize” – both the pros and the cons. In addition we will speak broadly about the history of film and photography – with examples of both from the collections of the Oregon Historical Society.


Brown-Bag Event

Bike Battles: A History of Sharing the American Road

James Longhurst

Tuesday, June 23 at Noon

Presented in partnership with the Bicycle Transportation Alliance

Free and open to the public


Americans have been riding bikes for more than a century now. So why are most American cities still so ill-prepared to handle cyclists? James Longhurst, a historian and avid cyclist who is conducting a book tour by bicycle, tackles that question by tracing the contentious debates between American bike riders, motorists, and pedestrians over the shared road. Bike Battles explores the different ways that Americans have thought about the bicycle through popular songs, merit badge pamphlets, advertising, films, newspapers and sitcoms — and how those ideas shaped the actions of government and the courts when they intervened in bike policy through lawsuits, traffic control, road building, taxation, rationing, import tariffs, safety education and bike lanes from the 1870s to the 1970s.


James Longhurst is associate professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and author of Citizen Environmentalists. According to Elly Blue, Portland based author of Bikenomics, "James Longhurst gives us a whole range of new ways to look at those moments of confusion, uncertainty, and rage experienced by anyone who has spent much time on roads shared by cars and bicycles. Bike Battles is academically rigorous but easy and fun to read. This is really my kind of nerdiness. I recommend it for anyone who feels stuck in polarized conversations about how we use our roads."


David Eisenhower Lecture


Thursday, June 25 at 7 PM

First Congregational Church

Tickets: GA: $20 | OHS Member: $10

Buy Tickets Now


Join us for a special lecture on World War II with David Eisenhower, the grandson of Dwight D. Eisenhower. A noted historian, Eisenhower is the author of Eisenhower: At War and Coming Home to Glory, and was a featured lecturer in OHS's 2013 Mark O. Hatfield Distinguished Historians Forum.


Special Member Event!

All OHS members are invited to an exclusive reception and preview of World War II: A World at War, A State Transformed at the Oregon Historical Society from 5-6:30 p.m. Please RSVP to by June 19 if you plan to attend.


Tickets on sale now through!




July 4th Celebration in Prineville with the OHS Mt. Emily Shay Locomotive

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Free Train Rides from 9am - 3pm

Independence Day celebrations begin at 4pm


ALL ABOARD for an old-fashioned, all American 4th of July in Prineville, Oregon! This Independence Day, the Oregon Historical Society and the City of Prineville (COP) will run the Mt. Emily Shay #1 on a series of excursions beginning at 9 AM, with hourly runs until 1 PM. The Mt. Emily is a Shay steam locomotive built in 1923 which was designed to haul logs to the mill. It is one of only a handful of operable Shay locomotives left in the world, and it was donated to the Oregon Historical Society in the 1950s and has been lovingly cared for by the COP. Boarding will be at the COP Team Track located at 1521 NW Lamonta Road. These historic rides are FREE and open to the public and each run can accommodate 90-100 people. Following your train ride through Prineville, you and your family are welcome to join the 4th of July festivities taking place throughout town. Watch the Mt. Emily in action by clicking here.


Letters at Lunchtime WWII-Event

Wednesdays, July 8, 15, 22, and 29 at Noon

Oregon Historical Society

Free and open to the public


The Oregon Historical Society holds hundreds of letters written by servicemen and their families and friends during WWII, documenting many of the infinite experiences of that watershed event. In honor of the opening of our exhibit WWII: A World at War, a State Transformed we have selected a sampling of those letters to share over lunches. Bring your brown bag lunches, and join us as OHS staff and volunteers read from the letters. The programs will be multi-media experiences, with high-quality copies of letters available, allowing you to get even closer to these remarkable experiences, and images of WWII from our collections on display during the readings.


Book Talk & Signing

At the Hearth of the Crossed Races: A French-Indian Community in Nineteenth-Century Oregon, 1812-1859 by Melinda Marie Jetté

Wednesday, July 8 at 7 PM

Oregon Historical Society

Free and open to the public


The Oregon Historical Society & OSU Press invites you for the launch of Melinda Jette's new book, At the Hearth of the Crossed Races. In this work, Jetté delivers a social history that deepens our understanding of the Oregon Country in the nineteenth century. This history of French Prairie provides a window into the multi-racial history of the Pacific Northwest and offers an alternative vision of early Oregon in the lives of the biracial French-Indian families whose community challenged notions of white supremacy, racial separation, and social exclusion.


Melinda Marie Jetté is a native Oregonian and a descendant of the French Canadian men and Native women who resettled French Prairie. The recipient of a M.A. in History from Université Laval and a Ph.D from the University of British Columbia, she is Associate Professor of History at Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire.


Oregon through the Decades

Friday, July 10, 7:30 - 10 PM

Oregon Historical Society

Tickets: $30 (add $20 to become an OHS member!)

Buy Tickets Now


oregon through the decades  


You're invited to drink, dance, and party like it's 1945… and 1975… and 1995… and 2005. Head back in time with the Oregon Historical Society's junior board, The Cabinet, at the party that is sure to be the event of the summer. Bust a move to the greatest hits from the past 70 years, and enjoy libations on the OHS Plaza overlooking the South Park Blocks.


Tickets are only $30, and include two drink vouchers, light appetizers, live music, dancing, and after-hours access to museum exhibits. Add an OHS membership to your event ticket for only $20 (a $60 value), and receive a year's worth of benefits including unlimited free admission to the OHS museum and research library, special event invitations and exhibition previews, and a subscription to the Oregon Historical Quarterly. A limited number of raffle tickets are also available; each ticket is $10 and enters you into a drawing for a "Portland Experience" basket featuring Trail Blazers tickets, local restaurant certificates, and more! All proceeds from this event directly support the work of the Oregon Historical Society.



"Claire Phillips: Oregon's Legendary Actress and Spy"

Sig Unander

Tuesday, July 21 at 7 PM

Oregon Historical Society

Free and open to the public


Author, speaker, and filmmaker Sig Unander will highlight the life of Claire Phillips Snyder, the only Oregon woman to receive America's highest civilian decoration. Phillips was a Portland stage actress and singer whose espionage and humanitarian work as a guerilla leader in the Philippine Resistance during World War II brought her fame and widespread recognition. Caught up in the Japanese occupation of the Philippines after the American and Philippine Army surrendered on Bataan in 1942, Phillips ran a glamorous Manila nightclub, continually risking her life to aid sick and starving prisoners of war and collect intelligence for the war effort. Betrayed, she underwent brutal torture by enemy secret police but survived to tell her story in a memoir that became a Hollywood movie.


A national celebrity and activist who worked on behalf of former military prisoners, she was presented a new home in Beaverton by Oregon Governor Douglas MacKay and Portland Mayor Dorothy McCullough Lee. Unander will present material from his research, including rare archival photos and audio recordings of Phillips. He will detail her life in the context of Philippine, United States, and Oregon history and discuss his upcoming book on Phillips, Lonely Courage.


Slideshow Presentation

“A Pictorial History of Oregon”

Thursday, July 30 at 8 PM

Des Chutes Historical Museum, Bend

Free and open to the public


The Oregon Historical Society is pleased to present A Pictorial History of Oregon – from James Cook’s early coastal forays in 1778 to the construction of the St. Johns Bridge in Portland in 1931. Comprised of approximately 100 glass lantern slides, this show was originally put together as a public educational program by the Colonial Dames of America in approximately 1935. With the assistance of Doug Kenck-Crispin, of Kick Ass Oregon History, we will use the original handwritten notes to narrate the program and the slides are projected using a Victor Stereopticon projector (circa 1915). In addition we will have an addendum to the program with notable slides from Deschutes, Lane and Klamath Counties as well as others from around the state.




Second Sunday

WWII-EventGood Work, Sister! Women Shipyard Workers of WWII, an Oral History

An audio-visual production of the Northwest Women’s History Project

Sunday, August 9 at 2 PM

Free and open to the public


During World War II, American women were actively recruited into defense jobs for the war effort. They were encouraged to enter skilled trades that had formerly been exclusive to men. This documentary presentation tells the stories of women who went to work in the shipyards of Portland, Oregon, and Vancouver, Washington, between 1942 and 1945. In their own words, Good Work, Sister! illustrates the women’s problems and successes and describes the context in which skilled shipbuilding jobs were opened, and later closed, to women.


Oregon Transformed Series WWII-Event

"WWII Legacies on the Columbia River"

Dr. Linda Tamura, Dr. Bill Lang, & Dr. Carl Abbott

Thursday, August 20 at 7 PM

Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum | 5000 Discovery Drive, The Dalles

Free and open to the public

Presented in partnership with theColumbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum


The "Oregon Transformed" series considers long-term impacts of World War II in local regions around the state within broad thematic frameworks. Presenters in The Dalles will address the themes of "consent and dissent" and "revisions to the landscape" by discussing subjects including return of Nikkei after the war; the commitment to USACE "Main Control Plan," leading directly to The Dalles Dam, and the environmental challenges to post-war aluminum industry over fluoride emissions; and Hanford and Richland "planned communities." Panelists will offer carefully prepared presentations, leaving plenty of time for audience questions and discussions.


This program is presented in association with the Oregon Historical Society's exhibit WWII: A World at War, A State Transformed. The pre-program dinner will include Jerked chicken sliders, cole slaw, corn on the cob, potato salad, peach pie for $15. Questions about her family heritage led Linda Tamura, author and Professor of Education Emerita at Willamette University, to write about Japanese Americans during World War II and how her community responded. Carl Abbott is Professor Emeritus of Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State University and the author of several books on the history of the American West. William L.  Lang is Emeritus Professor of History at PSU and a member of OHS Board of Trustees.


Make Your Next Meeting Historic!


Are you a member of a group or organization that would like to learn more about the Oregon Historical Society? Invite an OHS volunteer docent to attend your next meeting to learn about the exciting programs and services YOUR Historical Society has to offer!


Please fill out the form below and return to Rachel Randles at or by mail to 1200 SW Park Avenue, Portland, OR 97205. Once we receive your request, we will connect you with a volunteer docent to further discuss your event.


Event Request Form (PDF)


Partner Events & Programs

Partner Spotlight - Milagro

American Night: The Ballad of Juan José

April 30 – May 23

By Richard Montoya, Directed by Elizabeth Huffman

Milagro | 425 SE 6th Avenue, Portland

Tickets are $16-$24 | Buy Tickets Now

Determined to become completamente an American, Mexican immigrant Juan José studies fervently for his citizenship test. His dream transforms into obsession, launching him on a madcap odyssey through America's past and present. Nine actors portray dozens of characters ranging from Abe Lincoln to Joan Baez, exploring stereotypes and truth in this provocative and irreverent romp through U.S. history! Written by Richard Montoya of the acclaimed comedy troupe Culture Clash, and based on the controversial book A People's History of the United States by historian Howard Zinn, American Night: The Ballad of Juan José is a sharp-eyed and sharp-witted look at the land of the free.


OHS Member Discount!

OHS members are offered a $5 discount on adult, full-price, tickets for any performance between May 1 and May 10; use the code MilagroOHS at checkout!


Film Screening: On Paper Wings

Directed by Ilana Sol

Saturday, May 30


Hollywood Theater, Portland

Tickets: $5 | Buy Tickets Now


In the spring of 1945, a Japanese balloon bomb claimed the lives of the only people killed in the continental United States as a result of enemy action during WWII. Forty years later, the decision to fold a thousand paper cranes would unite the Japanese and American civilians who were involved in and affected by this incident. On Paper Wings is the story of four Japanese women who worked on balloon bombs, the families of those killed in the United States, and the man whose actions brought them all together forty years after WWII. After the screening, filmmaker Ilana Sol and Dr. Linda Tamura — author of Nisei Soldiers Break their Silence and co-curator of the Oregon Historical Society exhibit, What if Heroes Were Not Welcome Home? — will discuss the long-term effects of WWII's conflicts, and reconciliation, in Oregon.


This program is presented as part of Hollywood Theater's ongoing partnership with AARP and in association with the Oregon Historical Society's exhibit, WWII: A World at War, A State Transformed, opening June 26, 2015.


Lecture: Archaeological Finds

Presented by TriMet

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

12pm – 1pm

Oregon Historical Society

Free and open to the public


Jo Reese, M.A., R.P.A., Vice-President and Senior Archaeologist of Archaeological Investigations Northwest, TriMet's archaeological contractor, will provide an overview and highlights of archaeological discoveries made during construction of the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project. The discoveries touch upon the region's transportation history, Portland's evolving urban development, early manufacturing/industries and ethnic neighborhoods in early Portland. More Information


Veterans' Legacies Project Benefit Event

Presented by the Historical Outreach Foundation

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

5:30pm - 8pm

Oregon Historical Society

$25 | Buy Tickets Now


Join the Historical Outreach Foundation for a special evening honoring those who have served our country. Hear from representatives of the Veterans' Legacies Project,, and the Library of Congress. View images taken during WWII from the newly uncovered Ralph Appleman Collection. Enjoy a private outdoor reception with featured wines from Stoller Family Estate and light refreshments, and tour the newly opened Oregon Historical Society exhibition World War II: A World at War, A State Transformed. Proceeds from this event support the Veterans' Legacies Project.

Oregon Experience


Oregon Experience logo

Oregon Experience is a respected and long-standing community partnership between The Oregon Historical Society and Oregon Public Broadcasting. The strengths and assets of each organization merge together to produce historical documentaries that illuminate the grand heritage of our state.


OHS preserves and provides a vast collection of archival film, photographs and images from its vaults. Librarians and archivists work with OPB producers to find and make available these materials for use in the documentaries. Indeed, some of the materials showcased on Oregon Experience have never before been seen by the public.


OPB producers and editors, in turn, have the expertise to weave the components together into award winning documentaries that bring Oregon’s history to life.


Oregon Experience will engage and entertain you with stories about people and places - both familiar and forgotten – while building awareness of issues that have shaped Oregon in the past and continue to define its future.


We invite you to explore Oregon’s rich history through this unique partnership.

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