The latest Oregon Experience, Capturing Oregon’s Frontier, focuses on a rare collection of vintage glass plate negatives taken by Grants Pass newspaper publisher Amos Voorhies at the turn of the twentieth century.
Voorhies bought the Rogue River Courier in 1897. Today, as the Grants Pass Daily Courier, the paper is still owned by the Voorhies family.
Recently, the Courier was one of the latest newspapers added to the Oregon Digital Newspaper Program, an open state-wide resource for historic Oregon newspapers online.
The program is part of the Library of Congress’ and National Endowment for the Humanities’ Chronicling America.
Newspapers dating back to the 1860s are available as a key-word searchable online database. The files are also downloadable as pdfs.
A quick search of the Courier uncovered a wonderful article celebrating the paper’s 25th anniversary, complete with pictures of Amos Voorhies and his staff.
Do your own search of the Courier and dozens of other Oregon papers here.
Please join us for a preview screening of
the hour-long documentary special
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
3702 SE Hawthorne Blvd
Portland, OR 97214
6:30 pm – doors open at 5:30 pm
Nearly forty years after he left office and thirty years after his death, Oregon Governor Tom McCall remains one of the state’s most renowned political figures. He envisioned a quality of environment and life unique to Oregon and he worked relentlessly to protect those values. McCall’s bold achievements set a new standard for the rest of the nation. The Beach Bill and the Bottle Bill, the SB100 land-use law, the Willamette River cleanup and the reinvention of Portland’s waterfront — all of these emerged from the McCall years. This new one-hour episode of Oregon Experience: Tom McCall explores the man who helped shape the “Oregon” that we know today. The program was written and produced by Eric Cain and edited by Lisa Suinn Kallem.
Airs on OPB-TV Tuesday, March 19 at 8pm.
One hundred years ago, Oregon women won the right to vote. Oregon Experience is currently producing a half hour documentary to coincide with the centennial. The documentary will air on OPB-TV in the fall.
Meanwhile, the organization, a Century of Action: Oregon Women Vote!, is planning several exhibits around the state, the Oregon Historical Quarterly will publish a special edition, and a series of public programs and performances are in the works.
One of the first events this year will be an exhibit at the Multnomah County Library. Votes for Women! The Oregon Story runs from January 25 – March 6.
Find out more here.
Additional resources for the Oregon woman’s vote centennial:
Historic Oregon Newspapers, features searchable digitized copies of Duniway’s suffragist newspaper The New Northwest
Countdown to Suffrage, an online OPB student intern project featuring a sampling of historic newspaper articles, advertisements and images that represented the people and events leading up to 1912.
Century of Action: Oregon Women Vote, 1912-2012, an organization dedicated to celebrating the centennial
Woman Suffrage Centennial Web Exhibit, an online exhibit from the Oregon State Archives.
OPB had an amazingly successful screening in Klamath Falls recently. The Klamath County Museum and OPB partnered to present the screening, along with a grant from the Oregon Humanities.
Oregon Experience: The Modoc War previewed at the Ross Ragland Theater on Thursday, October 28th. The theater estimated about 810 people attended. Audience members had to sit on the floor and stand in the aisles.
I was part of a panel discussion afterwards with representatives from the Klamath Tribes, the Lava Beds National Monument, Oregon Institute of Technology’s history department, the Klamath County Museum and the Malin Historical Society.
The next morning I presented the documentary to the Lost River Jr/Sr High School. The program was presented to the entire student body. More than 240 students and teachers crowded the school’s gymnasium to watch the program.
Plans for another Klamath Falls screening are now in the works.
For me, it was a wonderful homecoming. Having grown up in the area, this story has been especially important to me. I was truly overwhelmed by the turnout and positive response.
I couldn’t have asked for a better reception for this project that has meant so much to me.
Through interviews with Modoc War descendants, local experts and national historians, this hour-long program examines one of the most dramatic American Indian wars in U.S. history.
The screening will be followed by a panel discussion.
Please join us:
October 27, 2010 at 7 p.m.
Ross Ragland Theater
218 North 7th Street
Klamath Falls, OR 97601
The event is free and open to the public.
Oregon Experience: The Modoc War airs Tuesday, November 8th, 2011 at 8 P.M. on OPB-TV and SOP-TV.
An OPB crew and I recently travelled to Southern Oregon and Northern California for our latest project on the Modoc Indian War of 1872-1873. You can learn more about some of the sites we visited on OPB’s Arts&Life website.
All of the Oregon Experience projects are interesting to work on, but this one is especially important to me. I grew up near Chiloquin, Oregon on former Klamath Tribes reservation lands.
The descendants of many of the war participants still live in the area.
I already knew many of the people we interviewed and thought I had a good understanding of the stories associated with the Modoc War. But what I discovered is that there is still a lot to learn.
At the time, the war was widely reported. Press were ‘embedded’ with troops and even trekked into the Modoc stronghold to talk to the chief, Captain Jack. Over the years, dozens of books, and hundreds – maybe thousands – of articles have been written about the events. Many are just wrong.
The problem is that the American Indians involved had almost no voice in telling their own stories. There are very few accounts of their own words, and most of those vary widely. For instance, several Modoc prisoners spoke at their murder trial. But official court transcripts of those speeches differ from transcripts taken by other people in attendance. The discrepancies may seem minor, but in reality they show bias and a coloring of the facts that change our understanding.
Who was Captain Jack really? What did he think? We may never know the answers to that. But it’s so much fun looking for the clues.
One mystery in particular has captured my attention. “The Ben Wright Massacre” is central to the events, and one of the most controversial mysteries of the Modoc War.
The story that is generally told is that in 1852 Modoc Indians attacked and killed a group of pioneers. When the people of the nearby mining town of Yreka found out, they rallied a group of volunteers to track down the Modocs. Lead by notorious Indian hunter Ben Wright, the vigilante group rode into a Modoc village under a flag of truce, and slaughtered the entire village killing at least 40 people. Only five Modocs survived, including two that would go on to participate in the Modoc War. This event is used to explain why the Modocs later attacked a U.S. Peace Commission in 1873 – because they knew a flag of truce meant deception.
Ben Wright died not long after the massacre. The story grew and grew. What really happened? There are several versions. I became a little obsessed trying to discover something, anything, which validated the story.
I finally found something in the records of the California Legislature of 1853. Ben Wright requested payment for services protecting settlers. The letter is a bit vague, however a similar letter from one of Ben Wright’s companions provides far more details including:
“Capt. Wright’s Company have had another battle with the Lake Indians, and succeeded in killing forty-three; three of his men were wounded seriously – but they are now recovering.”
That’s not a smoke gun. But it’s interesting and provides a clue. Read the letters yourself, and see what you think.
And by the way, the Legislature did vote to approve payment. I couldn’t figure out how much they were paid – another mystery.
Oregon Experience: Linus Pauling airs Monday, May 30, 2011, 9:00 PM on OPB-TV.
Linus Pauling is considered one of the greatest chemists of the 20th century. A brilliant scientist and humanitarian he made revolutionary discoveries in chemistry, physics, molecular biology and medicine; then used his international fame and popularity to promote world peace.
Targeted by the FBI and labeled a Communist during the height of the Cold War, Linus Pauling is the only person in history to win two unshared Nobel Prizes.
Take a tour of the Linus Pauling House with Terry Bristol, President of the Institute for Science, Engineering and Public Policy
Oregon Experience: Linus Pauling explores the extraordinary life and work of the only person ever to win two unshared Nobel Prizes (Chemistry, 1954 and Peace, 1962).
The program airs Monday, May 30 at 9 pm on OPB-TV.
The public is invited to a free preview screening of the show.
WHEN: Saturday, May 21 at 4pm
WHERE: Oregon State University, The LaSells Stewart Center
Seating is limited – To reserve your seat please email Rachel Taleff at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 503.293.1
Oregon Experience producer Eric Cain says he himself experienced an exciting convergence of diverse bits of history while researching “The Oystermen:”
It started with a late Fall visit to Lilli and Max Clausen, owners of Clausen’s Oysters in Coos Bay. In their collection of photos and charts, they had copies of 70-year-old plat maps of some their oyster beds. These were beautifully-drawn tideland subdivisions, properties apparently intended for oyster farming. “Silver Point,” was the name at the top of each one. I love maps, and I loved these.
Later that day, videographer Todd Sonflieth and I stopped by the Coos Historical and Maritime Museum. Among their oyster-related stuff, they have a homemade-looking-but-incredible document, also from the early 1940’s: Apparently, a group of oyster growers had acquired the rights to parcels of Coos Bay tidelands and had produced this promotional document titled “Oregon Oyster Farming.” The brochure – actually a three-ring binder of hole-punched papers – encouraged its readers to invest in this new Coos Bay oyster-farming cooperative. The hand-lettering, often in a very fancy, ornate style, touted:
“Coos Bay Oysters command top prices because of superior quality!”
“How would you like an income of up to $100.00 a month?”
“Oysters feed themselves. They grow day and night, whether you work or not, the year around. You don’t have to feed, fence, plough, herd, spray, shear, prune or milk an oyster crop!”
The group who produced this brochure turned out to be some of the same people who had commissioned the Silver Point plats.
The brochure contained lots of gorgeous black-and-white photos, and I noticed a photo credit to “Al Monner.” Now, this was exciting. Al Monner, a longtime staff photographer at the Oregon Journal, is also one of Oregon’s most-revered art photographers. [There’s a segment about Monner in an earlier Oregon Experience episode about the history of photography in the Columbia River Gorge, The River They Saw.
When we got back to Portland, I called Tom Robinson at Historic Photo Archive. Tom owns the collection of Al Monner’s negatives and did, in fact have more than 20 original Al Monner negatives of Coos Bay oystering. Many were the same images used in the brochure and had likely been commissioned for it. He scanned several of the negatives – which had not seen the light of day for many years – for us to use in this program.
But there’s more…
Vicki Wiese at the Coos Museum, had given me contact information for John Barton, the man who’d donated the brochure. It turns out that John’s father had been one of the founders of the Coos Bay oyster cooperative. The father had taken John to many sales meetings. Mr. Barton would serve free oyster stew to these groups of farmers and others in grange halls up and down the Willamette Valley while pitching the rewards of Coos Bay oyster-farming. John has great stories about those sales trips, but the real grabber was this: he still has the promotional film that his father used in the presentations. And no one, even he, had looked at it for a long, long time.
We had the film transferred to tape — thanks to Michelle Kribs at the Oregon Historical Society .The film is magnificient. Full-color. 16mm. Scenes of oyster-growing and oyster-canning, and the finished products rolling off the production line, tins with pretty labels reading “Coos Bay Better Oysters.”
And, the film included some of the same of the same scenes – sometimes the same people – that Al Monner had photographed with his still camera!
Long story short, we’d seen all of these diverse materials come together to make a wonderful visual account of the early days of the Coos Bay oyster industry. We now had copies of the original plat maps and the promotional materials used to recruit investors. Beautiful color movies and black-and-white photos of people and oysters. And a personal account of how that all developed. The Clausens boated us out to one of their beds – an old Silver Point property, actually – and we recorded modern-day, high-definition video of people harvesting oysters the same way – and at the same location – once captured in those 1940’s pictures.
This was a dizzying convergence of living historical materials. But it hadn’t quite ended.
I wanted to record one last interview at Coos Bay. Oysterman Larry Qualman’s father, back in the late ‘30’s, had been an oyster entrepreneurs in the South Slough part of the bay. Larry now ran the business and I wanted to include him in the show.
But as Todd and I were preparing to leave Portland for the Coos Bay interview, our archivist, Jack Berry flagged me down. He’d found, in our own OPB archives, an early-1960’s OSU extension film called “Oregon at Work.” Jack said: “It’s short scenes of dozens of different people working at their jobs, all over the state. And there’s about a minute of some guy tending to his oyster beds.” While Todd waited, I zipped down to the archive room to take a peek. And sure enough, here on the film were about 90 seconds of a man tying seeded oyster shells to wooden stakes….then pulling-up older stakes covered with oysters.
The film itself was silent, but there was a typed script that went with it. The script didn’t say much about the fellow I’d just been looking at, though. Only: “Larry Qualman, Coos Bay.”
The next Oregon Experience is on the oyster industry. Oysters were once an important part of many people’s diets. Below is one example of how to make oysters, taken from an oyster recipe book published in 1888.
Oysters a la mode, or, The oyster and over 100 ways of cooking it, by Mrs. De Salis.
Oysters and Bacon (a Breakfast Dish)
Fry up some mashed potatoes in bacon fat, and break them in pieces with a fork, and let them brown a little more; cut some thin rashers of bacon and arrange round the potatoes, which should be piled up in the middle of the dish.
Broil some oysters in their shells with butter and cayenne, turn them out of their shells and place on the top of the potatoes; garnish with lemon sippets. Ham may be used instead of bacon.
Other recipes include: Oyster Canapés, Oyster Omelet (no. 1 & 2), Oyster Pie, Oysters Pickled, and Iced Savoury Oysters.
Oregon Experience: The Oystermen airs April 18, 2010 at 9 PM on OPB-TV