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United States District Court Oral History Project

  • USDCHS
  • Collection
  • 1966-2008 (bulk 1984-2008)

Since 1984, the Oregon Historical Society has partnered with the United States District Court of Oregon Historical Society to interview judges, lawyers and other legal professionals affiliated with that Court.
With an appeal rate at around 10%, the decisions made by the District Court of Oregon have been deeply influential on the laws and peoples of the state. It has presided over decisions on public land disputes and fishing rights, as well as civil rights and law enforcement. The stories of the people that make up this judicial body provide a valuable tool for helping the public understand the pivotal role the court has had on Oregon’s history.

Oral History Interview with Flora Cushinway Thompson

  • SR 9586
  • Collection
  • 1971?

Flora Cushinway Thompson discusses her marriage to Chief Tommy Thompson of the Wyams, fishing, religion, and the fight against the building of the Dalles Dam.

Thompson, Flora Cushinway, 1893-1978

Oral history interview with Rudolph Luscher, by Susan Gaughan

  • SR 1038
  • Collection
  • 1984-08-16

Luscher discusses his family background and dairy farming in Clackamas County, Oregon, and the changes in milking technology and the dairy business over the 20th century. Bill Tegart was also present.

Luscher, Rudolph

Senator Mark O. Hatfield Oral History Project

  • SR Hatfield
  • Collection
  • 1987 - 1988

Restricted until very recently, this series of interviews was conducted with Senator Hatfield’s congressional aids, staff and advisors. Senator Hatfield had a long and distinguished career in public service. He began his career as an Oregon State Legislator. He was both Oregon’s youngest Secretary of State and Governor. Later, he was a United States Senator from Oregon for 30 years, the longest term of any senator from Oregon. He is perhaps best known for his early and consistent opposition to the Vietnam War.

Interviewees include: Douglas Coe, associate director of The Fellowship, who has had close relationships with many American politicians; Martin Gold, a member of the United States Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad, appointed by George H.W. Bush, he was counsel to Bill First, Howard Baker and Mark Hatfield; Loren Hicks, counsel to Hatfield and later held many judgeships in Oregon, including circuit judge for Marion County; and Sam Mallicoat, a veteran of WWII and the Korean War, and Chief of Staff for Senator Hatfield during his first senate term.

Oral history interview with Amo DeBernardis, by Corbett Gottfried

  • SR 2079
  • Collection
  • 1993-04-09 - 1993-11-05

De Bernardis discusses his family background and early life as the son of Italian immigrants in Northeast Portland, his education and teachers that influenced him, changes in higher education after World War II, the creation of Portland Community College and his time as president.

De Bernardis, Amo

Oral history interview with Alan Green

  • SR 2824
  • Collection
  • 1999-04-20 - 1999-07-21

This oral history interview with Alan Green was conducted by Jim Strassmaier in Green's office and home in Portland, Oregon, from April 20 to July 21, 1999. Tape 16 of the recording is missing, but the contents are reflected in an incomplete transcript of the interview.

In this interview, Green discusses his family background and early life in Portland, including his memories of the Depression, his family history of alcoholism, and his early education, including his involvement in student body government during high school. He then discusses his experiences as a theodylite observer in the Army during World War II, including spending time in an Army hospital after a truck accident in New Guinea. He talks about attending Stanford University, including living in the Phi Delta fraternity house, and meeting his wife, Joan Irwin. He describes working an insurance salesman, his marriage, and starting a battery company. He also briefly discusses serving as president of the University Club in 1967 and his efforts to open membership to Jewish people. He talks about a DUI infraction in 1962, his struggle with alcoholism, and his path to sobriety, as well as his later work helping others get sober. He speaks at length about his management of various business enterprises.

Green discusses his involvement in moderate conservative politics and the Republican Party. He talks about his chairmanship of the Multnomah County Central Committee, the 1964 presidential campaign of Barry Goldwater, and Mark Hatfield's brush with the vice presidency in 1968. He also talks about Wayne Morse's defection to the Democratic Party. He speaks at length about his service on the Port of Portland, including competition with Seattle, labor issues, and other members of the commission, particularly Ed Westerdahl. He shares his memories of the Richard Nixon administration, particularly his feelings regarding the Watergate scandal and the rise of the far right. He also talks about serving on the Federal Maritime Commission from 1982 to 1988, including the confirmation process, the Shipping Act of 1985, and his social life while living in Washington, D.C. He talks about how his work on that commission was facilitated by both Mark Hatfield and Bob Packwood. Green then describes serving as chairman for George H.W. Bush's 1988 presidential campaign in Oregon and his subsequent appointment as ambassador to Romania in 1989.

Green speaks at length about serving as ambassador to Romania from 1989 to 1992. He talks about his confirmation, his training, and the fall of Nicolae Ceaușescu. He talks about the members of his staff, living behind the Iron Curtain, and helping Romanian political dissidents become American citizens. He then talks about the new Romanian president, Ion Iliescu, Romanian political parties, and Romanian society and economy after the revolution. He also talks about traveling through Europe while an ambassador, Romania's role in the Gulf War, and international adoption of Romanian children. He then discusses his activities during retirement, including sitting on various boards, and his involvement with the political campaigns of Gordon Smith and George W. Bush. He closes the interview by talking about his children and grandchildren.

Green, Alan, 1925-

Oral history interview with John C. Beatty

  • SR 3716
  • Collection
  • 1999-03

This oral history interview with John C. Beatty was conducted by two unidentified Riverdale High School students as part of series of interviews with Riverdale High School alumni in March 1999. In this interview, Beatty discusses his family background and early life and education at Riverdale High School in the Dunthorpe neighborhood of Portland, Oregon, in the 1920s and 1930s. He also briefly discusses his memories of the Depression and World War II, as well as the changes in the Dunthorpe neighborhood over the 20th century. He closes the interview by talking about his legal career and his experience being drafted during World War II.

Beatty, John Cabeen, 1919-

Oral history interview with Margret D. Thomas

  • SR 3719
  • Collection
  • 1999-03

This oral history interview with Margret D. Thomas was conducted by an unidentified Riverdale High School student as part of the Riverdale School Oral History Series in March 1999. In this interview, Thomas discusses her family. She talks about coming to Portland, Oregon, in 1954, after her marriage to James "Jack" Randolph Thomas in 1942. She discusses Jack Thomas' career as a member of the Riverdale School Board, including the dances he helped to organize for parents. She also talks about life in the Dunthorpe neighborhood of Portland, including her memories of the 1962 Columbus Day storm. Thomas recounts her memories of World War II and the Depression. She then discusses her high school education in Los Angeles County, California, and her involvement with Riverdale School in Portland.

Thomas, Margret D. (Margret Dale), 1922-2011

Oral history interview with Gladys Sims McCoy

  • SR 9045
  • Collection
  • 1981-02-20 - 1981-06-22

This oral history interview was conducted by Linda S. Dodds at the Multnomah County Courthouse in Portland, Oregon, from February 20 to June 22, 1981. At the time of the interview, Dodds' name was Linda S. Brody.

In this interview, McCoy discusses her early life on a farm during the Depression in Chattanooga, Tennessee, including the impact that segregation had on her childhood, her education, and her early jobs. She then discusses attending Talladega University in Alabama, including the experience of having an international faculty and thereby an integrated community in the heart of the segregated South. She also talks about studying sociology. She describes seeking employment in the field of social work and accepting a job in Portland, Oregon, as assistant teenage program director at the YWCA. She discusses differences in the ways the black population was treated in Portland compared to her experiences in the South. She describes meeting Bill McCoy and their subsequent marriage, giving up her career to stay at home, and later pursuing a career again after raising seven children over the course of 17 years. She talks about attending Portland State University as an older student and the difficulty of finding child care. She then describes her work with Project Head Start in Vancouver, Washington; teaching sociology and counseling students at Clark College; and teaching sociology at Pacific University in Forest Grove.

McCoy discusses her involvement in local politics. She talks about serving on the board of Portland Public Schools, including her campaign and programs to improve schools. She speaks at length about the board's efforts to implement middle schools, and the opposition the idea faced. She talks about her involvement with Bob Straub's successful 1975 campaign for Oregon governor and serving as an ombudsman for the governor, as well as some of the cases she investigated. She talks about her 1978 campaign for Multnomah County commissioner. She describes some of her work as commissioner, the types of complaints she received, and her support for city-county consolidation. She closes the interview by discussing her philosophy of life.

McCoy, Gladys Sims, 1928-1993

Oral history interview with Betty Roberts

  • SR 9066
  • Collection
  • 1980-10-29 - 1980-11-14

This oral history interview with Betty Roberts was conducted by Linda S. Dodds in Portland, Oregon, from October 29 to November 14, 1980. At the time of the interview, Dodds' name was Linda S. Brody.

In the interview, Roberts discusses her early life in Texas, including her memories of the Depression and her childhood activities. She then talks about attending Texas Wesleyan University for a year; meeting Bill Rice and their subsequent marriage; and her early years as a housewife in Oregon, where she and Rice moved after World War II. She talks about returning to college in 1955 at Eastern Oregon College of Education (now Eastern Oregon University), then transferring to Portland State University. She talks about the difficulty of balancing school, a part-time job, and family life; her interest in both a teaching career and politics; and her involvement with the Lynch School Board from 1960 to 1966. She also talks briefly about studying at Northwestern College of Law.

Roberts discusses her service in the Oregon House of Representatives from 1965 to 1968, and in the Oregon Senate from 1969 to 1977. She also talks about her unsuccessful campaigns for the House in 1962 and her successful one in 1964. She discusses some of the legislation she worked on, including on universal kindergarten and victims' rights, and particularly regarding women's rights. She talks about her experiences as a woman in the Legislature. She describes her 1968 primary campaign against incumbent Senator Tom Mahoney; the casual sexism she observed; and the formation of the women's caucus in the 1973 legislative session. She discusses her committee assignments, including the judiciary committee and Ways and Means. She also gives a brief history of the coalition of Republicans and Conservative Democrats that controlled the Senate throughout the 1950s and 1960s. She then talks about her unsuccessful campaigns for governor in 1974, and the U.S. Senate later that same year. She describes the passage of the Bottle Bill in 1971 and the opposition the legislation faced.

Roberts closes the interview by discussing her service as a judge on the Oregon Court of Appeals from 1977 to the time of the interview in 1980.

Roberts, Betty, 1923-2011

Oral history interview with Carl Hillmer Francis

  • SR 9437
  • Collection
  • 1982-06-02

This oral history interview with Carl Hillmer Francis was conducted by Linda S. Dodds in Dayton, Oregon, on June 2, 1982. At the time of the interview, Dodds' name was Linda S. Brody.

In this interview, Francis discusses his family background and early life in Woodburn, Oregon, including his early education and childhood activities. He then talks about studying law at Willamette University and Northwestern College of Law, practicing law in Dayton, and serving as Dayton's mayor from 1941 to 1942. He also discusses his involvement with the Republican Party and Young Republicans.

Francis speaks about his service in the Oregon House of Representatives from 1943 to 1954, and in the Oregon Senate from 1955 to 1962. He describes some of his fellow legislators, working with lobbyists, and his decision to retire from the Legislature. He speaks about his interest in history and shares tales of some of his favorite historical figures. He closes the interview by talking about Dr. Lewis Alderman.

Francis, Carl Hillmer, 1915-1995

Oral history interview with Katherine O'Neill

  • SR 9481
  • Collection
  • 1980-03-14

This oral history with Katherine O'Neill was conducted by Linda S. Dodds at O'Neill's home in Portland, Oregon, on March 14, 1980. At the time of the interview, Dodds' name was Linda S. Brody. Admiral John H. Besson, who was a cousin of O'Neill's, and several unidentified women were also present and contributed to the interview.

In this interview, O'Neill discusses Smith and Watson Iron Works in Portland, a business operated by her grandfather, Charles Smith. She talks about the sorts of items the business produced, including steam donkeys and parts for the Kaiser shipyards in Portland. She also talks about the Schnabel family home that later became the Multnomah County Hospital; the family's ownership of the Congress Hotel and many of the hotel's famous guests; and the legal career of her father, Charles J. Schnabel, including his 1921 murder by a disgruntled client. She closes the interview by talking about her early life and education in the King's Hill neighborhood of Portland.

O'Neill, Katherine E. S. (Katherine Elizabeth Schnabel), 1899-1995

Oral history interview with Monroe Sweetland

  • SR 11131
  • Collection
  • 2000-03-11

This oral history interview with Monroe Sweetland was conducted by an unidentified woman on March 11, 2000. In this interview, Sweetland discusses moving to Milwaukie, Oregon, around 1949. He discusses his purchase of the Milwaukie Review newspaper, the houses he and his young family lived in, and life in the Island Station neighborhood. He talks about his children, their early education, their families, and their careers. He talks about his neighbors, including Milwaukie Mayor Joy Burges, as well as the changes in the neighborhood. He also speaks at length about growing lilacs and camellias. He talks about the livability of the Island Station neighborhood. Sweetland and the interviewer discuss the upcoming Milwaukie High School reunion. He goes on to talk about his wife, Lil Megrath, her involvement in progressive politics, and her government career. He also briefly discusses his family background. Sweetland then returns to discussing his children. He speaks at length about urban wildlife, particularly nutria, Canadian geese, and foxes, as well as Kellogg Creek in Milwaukie, particularly regarding its fish and clam populations.

Sweetland, Monroe, 1910-2006

Oral history interview with Ambrose A. Oderman

  • SR 11275
  • Collection
  • 2005-04-05 - 2005-04-25

In this interview, Oderman discusses his family background and early life in Foxholm, North Dakota. He describes his experience during the 1918 flu pandemic, including the death of his father. He discusses his mother's remarriage and his early education. He talks about moving to Monroe, Oregon, in 1926, as well as his high school experience there. He then discusses studying business at the University of Oregon during the Depression, including his plans to become an accountant. He also tells several stories about growing up on a farm. He discusses working for the Public Utility Commission and the Bonneville Power Administration as an accountant and auditor. He talks about his family and his social life during that time. He then discusses his service in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and living in Vanport, Oregon, after the end of the war. He discusses his service as western region audit director for the U.S. Interior Department. He closes the interview by discussing his retirement.

Oderman, Ambrose A. (Ambrose Adolph), 1912-2014

Oral history interview with William Francis Lambert

  • SR 81
  • Collection
  • 1980-07-14

This oral history interview with William Francis Lambert was conducted by Linda S. Dodds on July 14, 1980, at Lambert's home in Portland, Oregon. At the time of the interview, Dodds' name was Linda S. Brody.

In this interview, Lambert discusses his family background and early life in Portland, Oregon. He speaks at length about spending summers at the YMCA Spirit Lake Boys' Camp from 1913 to 1916, describing the camp rules, activities, and buildings. He also talks about some of the camp personnel and his fellow campers. He then discusses his work history, particularly working in the timber industry in Oregon and as a railroad worker in Alaska. He closes the interview by talking about his experiences in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Lambert, William Francis, 1902-1985

Oral history interview with Mark Bocek

  • SR 813
  • Collection
  • 1979-04-21

This oral history interview with Mark Bocek was conducted by Jim Strassmaier on April 21, 1979. Bocek's daughter, Rose Mary Bocek, also contributed to the interview.

In this interview, Bocek discusses his family background and early life in Poland. He talks about immigrating to the United States in 1905 and describes his experience as an immigrant in Pennsylvania and New York, including the jobs he worked. He talks about serving in the U.S. Army beginning in 1909, and describes spending 18 months stationed in the Philippines and playing clarinet in the Army band. Bocek and Strassmaier also talk about some photographs of Bocek's time in the U.S. Army. He briefly discusses his marriage to Rose White in 1914; his activities in the Army after returning from the Philippines in 1912; and settling in Portland, Oregon. He talks about his education in Poland, the jobs he held in Portland, including during the Depression, and building engines for Liberty ships during World War II. He then talks about his children, their families, and their careers. Bocek and Rose Mary Bocek also share their memories of the Tillamook Burn. Bocek closes the interview by discussing the dedication necessary to learn how to play an instrument.

Bocek, Mark, 1887-1984

Oral history interview with Donald W. McInnis

  • SR 1087
  • Collection
  • 1992-08-25 - 1992-11-10

This oral history interview with Donald W. McInnis was conducted by Mary Gorsline from August 25 to November 10, 1992. The interview was conducted in two sessions.

In the first interview session, conducted on August 25, 1992, McInnis speaks at length about his family background and how they came to settle near Reedville, Oregon, including his parents' overland journey to the Pacific Northwest. He speaks in detail about driving oxen-drawn wagons. He talks about his early life on a homestead near Reedville, including the store his father ran, meeting his future wife, Julia Flint, and working at a feed mill. He describes the communities of Hazeldale and Reedville, including a story of a man who abused his horses; Chinese members of the community; and a lost cemetery. He also talks about the social life in those communities; Julia Flint's family background; and the wildlife in the Reedville area.

In the second interview session, conducted on November 10, 1992, McInnis discusses his father, Duncan Mullen McInnis, and his father's career as a police officer in Portland, his memories of the general store his father ran, and the fire that burned the store down. He shares more stories from his early life and talks about his education. He closes the interview by talking about using public transportation in the Portland area in the early 20th century, working on the family dairy farm in Ridgefield, Washington, and loading Fresno scrapers, a type of earthmoving machinery.

McInnis, Donald W. (Donald William), 1900-1994

Oral history interview with Gerry Pratt

  • SR 9
  • Collection
  • 1979-01-29

This oral history interview with Gerry Pratt was conducted by Charles Digregorio at the offices of the Fred Meyer Savings and Loan Association in Portland, Oregon, on January 29, 1979.

In this interview, Pratt tells stories about his family background and early life in Vancouver, Canada, including his education and his summer jobs. He talks about beginning his career in journalism at the Canadian Press, the Vancouver Sun, and the Toronto Telegram. He then discusses his career in journalism at the Oregonian newspaper and working as business editor. He speaks at length about his friendship with Fred G. Meyer. He describes his work as the president of Fred Meyer Savings and Loan, and the ways in which the banking field is changing. He also discusses his career as a television journalist. He closes the interview by talking about his plans for the future.

Pratt, Gerry

Oral history interview with Kirby S. Ross

  • SR 18
  • Collection
  • 1979-12-20

This oral history interview with Kirby S. Ross was conducted by Charles Pavlovich on December 20, 1979. Ross' son, Kenneth Nelson Ross, and a person identified only as Mr. Johnson were also present and occasionally contributed to the interview.

In this interview, Ross discusses his service in the U.S. Army in France and Germany during World War I, including capturing enemy soldiers, retrieving bodies of fallen Allied soldiers, and fighting in the trenches. He also talks about where he was during the signing of the armistice. He then talks about his civilian life and serving in the Oregon National Guard before the start of World War I, including being deployed to disrupt efforts by the International Workers of the World to unionize agricultural workers. He then revisits the topic of his service in the U.S. Army in France and Germany during World War I, and describes at length his experiences on the front lines. He closes the interview by discussing where to donate the oral history interview and related materials.

Ross, Kirby S. (Kirby Stewart), 1893-1984

Portland General Electric Centennial Oral History Series

  • SR PGE
  • Collection
  • 1987 - 1988

A series of interviews conducted by Judy Hartman and Craig Wollner with employees of Portland General Electric for use in creating a history of the company for its centennial in 1988.

Hartman, Judy

Oral history interview with Jean Black, by Karen Wingo

  • SR 9096
  • Collection
  • 1980-052-07

Black discusses his early life and education, studying in Rome, working in various research and academic libraries across the country, teaching library science, coming to Vanport, Oregon in 1946 to be a librarian at Vanport College, dealing with the aftermath of the 1948 flood, and the early history of the Portland State University library.

Black, Jean P.

Oral history interview with Sister John Mary Lane, by Roberta Watts

  • SR 9012
  • Collection
  • 1978-04-17 - 1978-06-06

Sister John Mary Lane discusses her family background and early life, getting involved with the Sisters of the Holy Names, women in the Catholic church and feminism, teaching, life in a convent, and teaching at Marylhurst College.

Lane, John Mary, Sister

Oral history interview with Reub Long, by Ron Shay

  • SR 9117
  • Collection
  • 1971-10-06

Long discusses range and wildlife management issues in the Oregon High Desert. He describes his personal observations of the natural environment of the Oregon High Desert and how it has changed through time.

Long, R. A. (Reub A.)

Pittock Mansion remembered

  • SR 9319
  • Collection
  • 1983-08-15 - 1984-03-26

A series of interviews conducted by Linda Brody regarding Pittock Mansions.

Tape 1: Marjorie Wright discusses her time living in the gatehouse of Pittock Mansion with her parents from 1920 to 1945, including the work her father did as head gardener.

Tape 2: Betty L. Meier discusses her childhood as a granddaughter of Henry L. Pittock and her memories of visiting Pittock Mansion.

Tape 3 and 4: Louise Barry discusses her relationship to the Pittock family and her memories of Pittock Mansion.

Tape 5: Robert "Peter" Gantenbein discusses the Pittock family and living in the Pittock Mansion. Eric Ladd is also present.

Tape 6: Allyn Staley discusses the restoration of the Pittock Mansion in the 1960s.

Tape 7: Alexander Bolton Pierce discusses the political process involved in the purchase of the Pittock Mansion by the City of Portland and its restoration in the 1960s.

Wright, Marjorie, 1920-2012

Oral history interview with Louis Bunce, by Charles Digregorio

  • SR 9323
  • Collection
  • 1978-06-01 - 1978-07-19

Bunce discusses education in art at the Museum Art School in Portland, Oregon , his influences, including Cezanne and Picasso, his involvement with the WPA during the Depression, working in the shipyards during World War II, his artistic style, and his career as an artist. He also discusses some of his exhibitions and a commission he was currently working on for the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley, California.

Bunce, Louis, 1907-1983

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