Add Your Story to the Historical Record
As the repository of Oregon’s history, we have a responsibility to record this moment for future generations. That is why the Oregon Historical Society is asking you to share your stories: your personal reflections on living through this pandemic. We will add a selection of the stories and reflections to the OHS Research Library collections, where future generations will go to understand what this unprecedented moment in Oregon history was really like.
Programs and Operations
Updated March 24, 2020
In accordance with the executive order issued by Governor Kate Brown on March 23, 2020, the Oregon Historical Society is closed until further notice, in an effort to help slow the spread of COVID-19 within our community. Library services, including research inquiries and photo and film reproductions, will also be paused during this period. Public programs have also been cancelled or postponed; please visit ohs.org/events to learn more about rescheduled events. All school tours and traveling trunks are paused until Oregon schools resume.
“Oregonians have long looked to the Oregon Historical Society for accurate history. It is our hope that when historians write about this unique and challenging time, they will write that lives were saved and normalcy restored because the recommendations of public health officials were taken seriously,” said Oregon Historical Society Executive Director Kerry Tymchuk. “To do our part to ensure that history, and in keeping with the fact that the health and well-being of our visitors, staff, and volunteers is our number one priority, we believe that this temporary closure is the right thing during these uncertain times.”
OHS management has also made plans to alleviate the burden on its staff during this period of stress. Leadership has encouraged all staff to prioritize their own health and safety, and as such has granted all staff up to five paid personal days, to be used during this public closure period, in order to allow staff to care for themselves and their loved ones.
When the museum reopens, OHS is excited to debut a new exhibition, Nevertheless, They Persisted: Women’s Voting Rights and the 19th Amendment. One suffragist profiled in the exhibit who our community can learn from during this crisis is Esther Pohl Lovejoy; as a public health official, she helped prevent an outbreak of bubonic plague in Portland, in part by resisting xenophobic arguments that blamed Chinese Portlanders for the disease.
“Like the Oregon suffragists that made history in 1912 when they won Oregon women citizens the right to vote – after five previous failed attempts – we too will persist through this public health crisis and come out stronger,” said Tymchuk.Oregon History Day Moving to Virtual Contest
With the safety and health of our students, teachers, judges, and staff as our top priority, the Oregon Historical Society has made the decision to hold a virtual Oregon History Day contest on Saturday, May 2, 2020. Our decision is guided by the recommendation from the State of Oregon and the Oregon Health Authority to slow the spread of COVID-19 by implementing social distancing practices. Due to Oregon school closures for the remainder of April, Oregon History Day registration will now be from Monday, April 13 through Monday, April 20. Visit ohs.org/oregonhistoryday for more information.
Public Health Resources
With so many unknowns, it is important that our community has evidenced-based, reliable information. You can find the most up-to-date clinical guidance at multco.us/covid19, a resource that county health officials are monitoring daily. You can also stay on top of the facts by visiting the Oregon Health Authority’s COVID-19 FAQ page, which includes information on testing, as well as the Center for Disease Control COVID-19 webpage for the latest news and guidance for people at serious risk of illness.
We ask you all to join us in following the CDC's recommendations of washing hands, covering coughs, and substituting elbow taps for handshakes to prevent illness and help keep our community safe.
With the cancellation of public gatherings for the coming months, many local caterers and restaurants are offering meal delivery services as a way to help those who are most vulnerable in our community who are unable to leave their homes, as well as find ways to continue to support their hardworking staff. Meal delivery is an excellent way to support local businesses, and is a great option for families now trying to balance childcare with remote work. We invite you to consider supporting one of our wonderful catering partners listed here through their delicious offerings until we are all able to come together in celebration again.
Digital History Resources
We encourage you to continue using OHS resources to learn history while you and your loved ones may be social distancing at home. You might consider reading and sharing scholar Kimberly Jensen's Oregon Encyclopedia article on suffragist Esther Pohl Lovejoy; as a public health official, she helped prevent an outbreak of bubonic plague in Portland, in part by resisting xenophobic arguments that blamed Chinese Portlanders for the disease. Lessons from history will continue to inform us all in the coming weeks!