In this Issue
Master of His Medium: E.B. Aldrich, the East Oregonian, and the First Global Conflict in Pendleton
by Brigit Farley
E.B. Aldrich, editor of the East Oregonian newspaper for forty-two years, shaped Pendleton’s response to World War I through his editorial guidance. Brigit Farley documents Aldrich’s role as “chief recruiter, cheerleader, and enforcer for the cause” of war in the small town. Through the newspaper, Aldridge demanded everyone do their part for the war effort by featuring spotlights on local champions (including women), and publicly calling out “slackers” who dodged the draft, those who overindulged on rationed sugar in their coffee, and withheld support for the war effort. Following the November 1918 armistice, Aldrich advocated peacekeeping efforts and championed President Woodrow Wilson’s peace proposals. Aldrich’s presentation of World War I and beyond, Farley argues, “yields some interesting insights into the conflict’s impact beyond the major urban centers.”
Housing Segregation and Resistance: An Introduction
by Carmen P. Thompson
On Sunday, April 8, 2018, local researchers gathered for a roundtable discussion at the Oregon Historical Society to present research they had uncovered about housing segregation and resistance in Portland, Oregon. Carmen P. Thompson moderated that discussion and presented to attendees an introduction to housing segregation. In this record of her presentation, Thompson documents how housing segregation in Portland, Oregon, stems from policies and practices rooted in the enslavement of people of African descent. These policies, she attests, “instituted a national racial hierarchy of white supremacy and Black inferiority.” Thompson also reflects on each of the presenters’ research and draws connections to “institutional racism, Black resistance, and private citizens’ silence,” during this commemoration the fiftieth anniversary of the 1968 Fair Housing Act.
“Congenial Neighbors”: Restrictive Covenants and Residential Segregation in Portland, Oregon
by Greta Smith
Greta Smith, one of three presenters at a public history roundtable at the Oregon Historical Society commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the 1968 Fair Housing Act, describes her research on restrictive covenants used as early tools in Portland, Oregon, to segregate neighborhoods. In this record of her talk, Smith describes how restrictive covenants written into property title deeds were designed to protect “neighborhoods from the encroachment of economically undesirable features,” such as types and locations of buildings on a property and, in the early twentieth century, the kinds of people who could inhabit a property. Enforcement of these covenants “took the work of private citizens with state support,” citing quality of life concerns to maintain homogenous neighborhoods through “redlining.” Smith concludes by discussing how covenants and redlining may have protected white and wealthier homeowners’ property values, but they affected generations of African Americans through disinvestment and exclusion.
“A place under the sun”: African American Resistance to Housing Exclusion
by Melissa Cornelius Lang
Melissa Lang was one of three panelists at a public history roundtable at the Oregon Historical Society commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the 1968 Fair Housing Act. In this record of her presentation, Lang documents African American resistance to housing exclusion by highlighting stories of those Portlanders who “fought back and uplifted their community from within.” Three ways that resistance manifested included Black realtors and investors who helped circumnavigate the system of exclusionary practices and redlining; Black-owned banks and credit unions that provided loans for property upkeep; and Black activist organizations beginning in the 1940s that advocated for better housing policies. Lang argues that by “capitalizing on their industriousness,” these resisters “developed a network of realtors and investment opportunities when they were otherwise excluded, and they founded and utilized community organizations to keep the work of the city and the state in check.”
Small Steps on the Long Journey to Equality: A Timeline of Post-Legislation Civil Rights Struggles in Portland
by Leanne Serbulo
Leanne Serbulo presented a timeline of civil rights struggles in Portland, Oregon, at a public history roundtable at the Oregon Historical Society commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the 1968 Fair Housing Act. In this record of her presentation, Serbulo documents milestones in dismantling racial discrimination between 1949 and 1990. For this timeline, Serbulo researched Metropolitan Human Relations Commission (MHRC) records held at the Portland City Archives and traces how the commission navigated the process of improving race relations in the city and Multnomah County. As Serbulo argues, “civil rights legislation was simply the first step in a long and unfinished journey toward equality.” As the timeline shows, dismantling racial discrimination occurred primarily in public agencies during that time period, as “MHRC and other civil rights organizations had little influence over the myriad of diffuse transactions in the housing market, and the public agencies that were empowered to regulate those markets were reluctant to aggressively police the private housing industry.”
Invisible Walls: Mapping Residential Segregation in Portland
by Katrine Barber, Lily Hart, Curtis Jewell, Madelyn Miller, and Greta Smith
This Local History Spotlight documents Portland State University students’ research on how barriers to homeownership in communities of color have influenced the concentration of wealth and inequality in Portland, Oregon. The students conducted research by using crowdsourcing efforts to obtain property deed information, and partnered with other university students and local organizations to disseminate their initial findings. The authors concluded that “by documenting racially restrictive covenants, we revealed the many ways that people of color have been denied access to property in Portland, how they navigated restrictions to purchasing homes, and the ongoing legacies of housing inequality in our community.”
The Friends in “Friends of MacDonald”
by Jim Mockford
In 2018, the Friends of MacDonald (FOM) celebrated its thirtieth anniversary as a committee of the Clatsop County Historical Society in Astoria, Oregon. The group celebrates the life of Ranald MacDonald, a descendant of Chinook Chief Comcomly, an officer for the Hudson’s Bay Company, and the first English teacher in Japan following a time period when the country had been closed to foreigners. In this Local History Spotlight, Jim Mockford, who served as the chair of the group for ten years, recounts the efforts to form FOM to honor MacDonald’s story through activities fostering friendship, mutual understanding, and cultural and educational exchange between Americans and Japanese. MacDonald’s history is one that has reached national attention, and as Mockford describes, “the story of the Oregon-born adventurer who travelled the world now brings people from around the world to travel in his footsteps.”
G. Thomas Edwards, June 14 — January 10, 2018
G. Thomas “Tom” Edwards grew up in Taft, Oregon, and earned his Ph.D. in history from the University of Oregon. He had a long, distinguished career at Whitman College, where he taught for thirty-four years. There, Edwards earned a reputation as a notable scholar of Pacific Northwest history and lifelong mentor to his students. In this tribute, he is remembered as a “brilliant, yet humble” teacher and colleague for whom “history was more than just his profession. It was his life.” The many stories recounted here celebrate Edwards’s life and the lasting mark he made on the history of the Pacific Northwest.
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