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Oral history interview with Debbs Potts

This oral history interview with Debbs Potts was conducted by James Strassmaier in a Super 8 Motel in Grants Pass, Oregon, and at an ExecuLodge in Salem, Oregon, from April 15, 1991, to May 28, 1991. In the interview, Potts discusses his family background and early life in Eastern Oregon, including his family's religious life, his education in one-room schools, and working various jobs as a young teenager. He also talks about the sawmill business, including owning and operating various sawmills. He then discusses his marriage to Bobbye Irene Michael, including their attempts to adopt children. Potts talks about his service in the U.S. Navy during World War II, including his training and life on a ship. He also discusses his time as mayor of Grants Pass from 1958 to 1960.

Potts then discusses serving in the state Senate from 1961 to 1984. He talks about his involvement with the Democratic Party; several prominent Democrats, including Harry Boivin and Jason Boe; and his early committee assignments, particularly the Ways and Means Committee. He discusses his campaigns, legislative procedure, and interpersonal politics. He also talks about legislation that came up during his tenure, including on taxes, reapportionment, and education. He discusses working with other legislators, including Monte Montgomery, Ben Musa, Lynn Newbry, and Ed Fadeley. Potts talks about serving as president of the Senate from 1967 to 1970, including the process of getting elected to that position, having Cecil Edwards as his secretary, and the duties of the president. He also discusses working with different governors' administrations, the Senate presidency of Jason Boe, and partisan politics. Potts talks briefly about his faith and his adopted children. He closes the interview with a discussion on his activities after serving in the Legislature, including running the Oregon Lottery.

Potts, Debbs (Eugene Debbs), 1908-2003

Oral history interview with Harry D. Boivin

This oral history interview with Harry Boivin was conducted by Clark Hansen in Boivin's office in Medford, Oregon, from July 25, 1991, to June 6, 1992. In this interview, Boivin discusses his family history and early life in Klamath Falls, Oregon, as well as his education at Santa Clara University in California. He then discusses getting started in his law career, including working for the district attorney in Dorris, California, and then working with Claude McColloch in Klamath Falls.

Boivin then talks about serving in the Oregon House of Representatives from 1935 to 1942, including serving as speaker of the House in 1937. He discusses partisan politics and coalition building; the old Capitol building and conditions after it burned down in 1937; his support of the New Deal; and his time as speaker. He discusses some of the legislators he worked with in the House, including Grace Peck. He also talks briefly about his activities after leaving the House, including trying to enlist during World War II, as well as serving on the Oregon Liquor Control Commission and the Board of Education.

Boivin goes on to discuss serving in the Oregon Senate from 1955 to 1972, including as Senate president from 1961 to 1966. Some of the issues he discusses include reapportionment, logging and forestry, taxation, and agriculture. He also talks about campaigning, committee assignments, and the duties of the Senate president. Boivin talks often about the Oregon Institute of Technology and his role in its formation. He also discusses his working relationship with the many governors that served during his political career. He discusses his fellow senators, including Monte Montgomery, Al Ullman, Wayne Morse, and Debbs Potts.

He closes the interview by discussing the changes in the Democratic and Republican parties, and politics in general, over the second half of the 20th century.

Boivin, Harry D. (Harry Dolan), 1904-1999

Oral history interview with John D. Burns

This oral history interview with John D. Burns was conducted by Clark Hansen at Burns' office in Portland, Oregon, from April 22, 1992, to February 28, 1993. In this interview, Burns discusses his family background and early life in Condon, Oregon, particularly life on a ranch. He then discusses attending Notre Dame University, including his involvement in athletics; and attending Georgetown University Law School, including how his political views solidified during this time. He also talks about working for Senator Dick Neuberger. Burns discusses returning to Oregon to work as a lawyer, then as deputy district attorney in Multnomah County, including working with George Van Hoomissen, and cases he tried. He discusses his time as a lawyer in a firm with Pat Dooley, working on insurance cases. He also talks about his involvement in the Democratic Party and politics. He speaks briefly about his marriage to Brooke Claridge and their four children.

Burns discusses his legislative career in the Oregon Senate from 1967 to 1975, including his campaigns. He discusses legislation he worked on, including revising the criminal code, taxes, environmental legislation, abortion, transportation, mental health, his committee assignments, and Senate procedure. He also talks about his fellow legislators, including Tony Yturri, Stafford Hansell, Lynn Newbry, and Debbs Potts. He discusses the coalition of conservative Democrats and Republicans that controlled the Senate for many decades. Burns then discusses his time as president of the Senate from 1971 to 1973, including the process of getting elected to the position, reducing the number of committees, and reapportionment. He talks about many of the landmark pieces of legislation that passed during his tenure, including the Bottle Bill and the raising of the voting age to 18. He also discusses his relationship with the press; the election of Jason Boe as Senate president in 1973; and the land-use bill SB 100.

After a year-long break, the interview resumes with a discussion of Oregon politics in 1993, including politicians that Burns considered rising stars, such as John Kitzhaber and Gordon Smith. He also discusses his work as a lobbyist and lawyer after leaving the Legislature. He then returns to the topic of legislation during his time in the Senate. He discusses the changes in the Legislature and the Democratic Party in the years since he left. He closes the interview by discussing his current activities and hopes for the future.

Burns, John D. (John David), 1936-

Oral history interview with Alfred H. Corbett

This oral history interview with Alfred H. Corbett was conducted by Clark Hansen at the Oregon Historical Society in Portland, Oregon, from November 29, 1991, to April 24, 1992. In this interview, Corbett discusses his family background and early life in the Dunthorpe neighborhood of Portland and in eastern Oregon. He also discusses the political career of his father, Henry Ladd Corbett, and life during the Depression. He then talks about his education, including studying business at Harvard and law at Yale. He discusses meeting his wife, Nancy deCanizares, and her family background and early life. He briefly discusses his service in the U.S. Army during World War II, where he fought in Italy from 1943 to 1945. Corbett talks about practicing law in Portland and about some of his clients, including the Southern Pacific Railroad. He also talks about his brief service on the Portland Housing Authority at the time of the Vanport Flood; his year in the Defense Electric Power Administration; his involvement with the Democratic Party; and returning to Oregon to run for the state Legislature.

Corbett discusses his legislative career in the Oregon House of Representatives from 1953 to 1956. He talks about his campaigns, partisan politics, and his committee appointments. He discusses legislation he worked on, including on child care funding, education, civil rights, and budgeting. He also speaks at length about serving on the Ways and Means Committee. He then discusses serving in the Oregon Senate from 1957 to 1964, particularly his continued work on the Ways and Means Committee. He discusses some of the legislation he worked on, including on health care.

Corbett then discusses working on the 1956 presidential campaign of Adlai Stevenson and his own 1964 campaign for Oregon secretary of state. He discusses his work in the federal Office of Economic Opportunity in Washington, D.C., from 1965 to 1972, and then in the Legal Services Corporation until his retirement in 1978. He talks about some of the programs he was affiliated with in those positions, including educational, legal aid, and health care programs. Additionally, he discusses his dealings with U.S. Senator Wayne Morse and U.S. Rep. Edith Green. He also talks about clashing with the Nixon administration. He closes the interview by talking about his activities in retirement and his family life.

Corbett, Alfred H. (Alfred Hoyt), 1915-2000

Oral history interview with William L. Dickson

This oral history interview with William L. Dickson was conducted by Jim Strassmaier at Dickson's apartment in San Diego, California, from September 25-26, 1991. In this interview, Dickson discusses his family background and early life in Portland, Oregon, including contracting polio while in high school and his early interest in politics, including his admiration of Franklin D. Roosevelt as a fellow polio survivor. He then discusses attending Northwestern Law School and many of his professors; clerking at the probate court in Portland; his family's religious faith; and getting started in a law practice in Portland. He talks about his experience as a debt collector during the Depression; his first run for the Oregon Legislature in 1930; and meeting his wife, Dorothy Adelaide Unk, in 1931.

Dickson goes on to discuss his time in the Oregon House of Representatives from 1933 to 1936, and in the Oregon Senate from 1937 to 1939, including his desire to help people burdened by debt; coordinating with his uncle, Ashby Dickson, to pass a constitutional amendment making judges nonpartisan positions; and legislation he worked on, particularly on the probate and guardianship code. He also talks about the role of lobbyists; the pay scale for legislators; and many of the legislators he served with, including Nan Wood Honeyman, Monroe Sweetland, and Frank Lonergan. He discusses his involvement with the Democratic Party; the impact of the Depression on his politics and career; and New Deal legislation.

Dickson then discusses his career after leaving the Legislature. He talks about working for the federal Department of Justice during World War II, particularly his work on cases involving land condemnation for military use, and arguing before Judge James Alger Fee. He then talks about serving as a judge on the Circuit Court of Multnomah County from 1954 to 1973. He discusses cases involving mental health and guardianship. He then talks about the lives and careers of his children. Dickson closes the interview with a discussion of national politics in the 1990s.

Dickson, William L. (William Lucas), 1907-2002

Oral history interview with Bill Hedlund

  • SR 1113
  • Collection
  • 1988-06-19

This oral history interview with Bill Hedlund was conducted by Richard McConnell on June 19, 1988. An unidentified woman was also present. In this interview, Hedlund discusses his experience in the Oregon House of Representatives from 1941 to 1942, and his experiences as a lobbyist. He discusses legislators and lobbyists he worked with, rules regarding lobbying activities, his involvement with the Democratic Party, and governors he served under while in the Legislature. He then looks at photographs and discusses them, his family history, and his early life in Portland. He discusses how he got interested in politics after he graduated from law school in 1935, and his jobs before running for the Legislature in 1940, including working for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

Hedlund, Bill (William Hancock), 1910-1994

Oral history interview with Bill Hedlund

This oral history interview with Bill Hedlund was conducted by Clark Hansen from September 4-25, 1990. In the interview, Hedlund discusses his family history and early life in Portland, Oregon, including notable people that his family knew, such as Oswald West; his memories of World War I; and his early involvement with the Democratic Party. He then discusses his experience during the Depression, and attending the University of Oregon and the Northwestern College of Law. He talks about his early career as a deputy U.S. marshal and on the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. He also discusses practicing law in Portland, then in the U.S. Attorney's office; the evolution of his political outlook; his father's political career; and his experience in the Coast Guard auxiliary during World War II. Hedlund then discusses his term in the Oregon House of Representatives from 1941 to 1942, including his campaign, his staff and office arrangements, and legislation. He then discusses working in the U.S. Attorney's office from 1943 to 1945, after leaving the Legislature. He also talks about his 33 years as a lobbyist, particularly for oil companies, from 1945 to 1977. He discusses issues the oil lobby was concerned with, including oil spills, gas additives, and environmental legislation. He also talks briefly about the plane accident that killed Secretary of State Robert S. Farrell, Jr., Senate President Marshall E. Cornett, and Governor Earl Snell. He discusses governors of Oregon and their staffs, as well as several legislators. He closes the interview by talking about the lobbying profession in more detail, particularly his work for oil companies, and his service as commissioner of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission from 1980 to 1987.

Hedlund, Bill (William Hancock), 1910-1994

Oral history interview with Sidney Leiken

This oral history interview with Sidney Leiken was conducted by Clark Hansen at Leiken's office in Roseburg, Oregon, on June 8, 1992. In the interview, Leiken discusses his family background and early life in New Haven, Connecticut, including the effect the Depression had on his family and his experience in the Civilian Conservation Corps, which brought him to Oregon. He then discusses working at sawmills, his marriage to Thora Hult, and the lumber business. He discusses moving to Roseburg, Oregon, starting a family, and getting into politics, including his involvement with the Democratic Party. Leiken talks about serving in the Oregon House of Representatives from 1961 to 1967. He describes his campaign and constituency in Douglas County. He talks about legislation, including on taxes, community colleges, timber, labor, and land use. He also talks about his fellow legislators, including Monte Montgomery, Al Flegel, Jason Boe, and W.O. Kelsay. He also discusses working on Bob Duncan's campaign for the U.S. Senate in 1966. Leiken talks about leaving politics, his wife's cancer diagnosis, and her subsequent death in 1969. He goes on to talk about the changes in the Democratic Party since then, as well as partisan politics during his terms in the Legislature. He closes the interview with some words of advice to aspiring politicians, and a discussion of his family life.

Leiken, Sidney, 1916-2012

Oral history interview with Charles O. Porter

This oral history interview with Charles O. Porter was conducted by Jim Strassmaier at Porter's office in Eugene, Oregon, from July 18 to November 7, 1986. In this interview, Porter discusses his family background and early life in Eugene, including his education at Eugene High School, working for newspapers in the area, and his early political ambitions. He then talks about attending Harvard. He speaks at length about his experiences in Panama, and later in Europe, during World War II. He then talks about returning to Harvard, job prospects, and returning to Oregon to take a job on the state Highway Commission. He discusses practicing law in Eugene, including his experience with various judges, some of the cases he worked on, and the administration of justice. He then talks about getting involved in politics, including being offered the position of assistant to the U.S. attorney general by Monroe Sweetland. He turned down the offer and ran for Congress instead.

Porter discusses representing the Fourth District of Oregon in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1956 to 1960, particularly his campaigns. He talks about his fellow legislators, including Wayne Morse, Maurine Neuberger, Edith Green, and Joseph McCarthy. He discusses parliamentary procedure and legislation he worked on, particularly on foreign policy in Latin America. He also talks about his relationship with the press; his involvement with Amnesty International; and his activities as a lawyer after his 1960 re-election loss. He discusses many of the cases he worked on, including on prisoners' rights, fluoridation, sterilization, and a case against the Air Force. He closes the interview by talking about his family and the livability of Oregon.

Porter, Charles O. (Charles Orlando), 1919-2006

Oral history interview with Betty Roberts

This oral history interview of Betty Roberts was conducted by Clark Hansen from March 24, 1992, to September 19, 1994, at Roberts' home in Portland, Oregon. In the interview, Roberts describes her early life and family background, including growing up in Texas during the Depression and her father's alcohol poisoning. She also discusses meeting her first husband, John Willard "Bill" Rice, as well as their marriage and starting a family in Oregon. Roberts discusses attending Portland State College and the strain it put on her marriage to Rice; discrimination she encountered as an older woman student; and pursuing a master's degree at the University of Oregon. She also talks about her divorce from Rice due to his objection to her working outside the home, the divorce's effect on her children, and her subsequent marriage to Frank L. Roberts. She also discusses her divorce from Frank Roberts in 1965.

Roberts discusses her career as an educator, including teaching at high schools in East Portland; serving on school boards; and her activity in the Oregon Education Association. She talks about meeting her third husband, Keith Skelton; civil liberties; her involvement in the Democratic Party; and practicing law. She then talks about her experiences in the Oregon House of Representatives from 1965 to 1968, including campaigning, sexist media coverage, and teaching high school and attending law school at Northwestern College of Law while in the Legislature. Roberts discusses legislation she worked on during her time in the House, primarily on education, including sick leave for teachers and universal kindergarten.

Roberts also discusses her 1968 campaign for the Oregon Senate against Tom Mahoney, as well as the 1968 presidential campaign, including the debate around the Vietnam War and her attendance at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois, with U.S. Senator Wayne Morse. She then discusses her experience in the Oregon Senate from 1969 to 1977, including legislation on taxes, particularly sales taxes; women's rights; abortion; environmental issues; rape shield laws; and child custody. She discusses working with Debbs Potts, John D. Burns, and Gracie Peck, and and talks about running for governor against Bob Straub in 1974. She also discusses her run for the U.S. Senate against Bob Packwood the same year. She talks about the various forms of sexism she encountered while in the Senate, the formation of the Women's Caucus in 1973, and support for the Equal Rights Amendment.

Roberts talks about her time as a judge on the Oregon Court of Appeals from 1977 to 1982, and about working alongside judges Herbert Schwabe and W. Michael Gillette. She describes being appointed to the Oregon Supreme Court by Governor Vic Atiyeh and the encouragement she received from Norma Paulus. She discusses several cases from the years 1982 to 1986, including cases regarding sex discrimination and misuse of taxpayer monies. She also talks about her law clerk, Maureen Leonard, and about working alongside judges Jacob Tanzer and Mercedes Deiz. Roberts relates her opinion on the efficacy and procedures of the judicial system in Oregon. She discusses her activities after resigning from the court, including her involvement with Oregon Women Lawyers and the Bob Packwood sexual harassment scandal.

Roberts, Betty, 1923-2011

Oral history interview with Bob Straub

This oral history interview with Bob Straub was conducted by Clark Hansen at Straub's home near Salem, Oregon, from May 14 to June 17, 1991. Pat Straub was also present. In this interview, Straub discusses his family background and early life in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. He then discusses attending Dartmouth College; meeting his wife, Pat Stroud; and serving in World War II. He then talks about running his own business as a building contractor in Springfield, Oregon; his involvement with the Democratic Party; and getting into politics by running for Lane County commissioner in 1954. He discusses serving in the Oregon Senate from 1959 to 1962, including his campaign and constituency. He also discusses his fellow legislators, including Charles Porter, Alfred Corbett, and Howell Appling. He also discusses legislation he worked on, including on taxes. He talks about working with prominent politicians while chairman of the Democratic Party in Oregon, including Monroe Sweetland; serving on the Board of Control; and serving as state treasurer from 1965 to 1973 under Governor Tom McCall. He then discusses ranching in the years before he served as governor. He discusses his 1974 campaign for governor against Vic Atiyeh; his staff, particularly Stafford Hansell; and administrative and judicial appointments he made, including appointing Ron Wyden to the Nursing Board, Wally Carson to the Marion County Circuit Court, and Betty Roberts to the appellate court. He also discusses his working relationship with the Legislature. He talks about many of the issues he dealt with as governor. He speaks briefly about his involvement in the creation of the Willamette Greenway. He then speaks briefly about several national and state politicians, including President Jimmy Carter, U.S. Senator Wayne Morse, and congressman Bob Duncan. He closes the interview by discussing his family life and activities since leaving politics.

Straub, Robert W.

Oral history interview with Monroe Sweetland

This oral history interview with Monroe Mark Sweetland was conducted by Richard Harmon from November 16, 1984, to October 26, 1987, at the Oregon Historical Society in Portland, Oregon. In this interview, Sweetland discusses his family background and early life, including his childhood in rural Michigan; his early involvement in Democratic politics; and his experiences at Wittenberg University and Cornell University. He discusses his political activism during college, including his involvement with the Student League for Industrial Democracy and his political activism on behalf of Socialist candidates. Sweetland also discusses his political activities after his return to Oregon in 1935, including his work with the Oregon Commonwealth Federation and his decision to leave the Socialist Party and join the Democratic Party. Also discussed is his work with labor unions; the New Deal programs; and his work with the Oregon Democratic Party. He briefly talks about World War II and its effect on Oregon politics, particularly the effect the Hitler-Stalin pact had on American communists and the Oregon Commonwealth Federation; internment of Japanese-Americans; and his own pacifism. Sweetland goes on to talk about his involvement with the Democratic Party of Oregon after the war as national committeeman; the factions within the party; and mobilizing women and black voters. He also discusses his ownership of several Oregon newspapers (the Molalla Pioneer, the Newport News, and the Milwaukie Review) and about running them with the help of his wife, Lillie Sweetland. In addition, he describes his experiences as a legislator in the Oregon House of Representatives and Senate during the 1950s and early 1960s. Topics include: education; attempts to pass a sales tax; campaign finance; and Wayne Morse's switch to the Democratic Party. He also discusses working closely with Howard Morgan, the national chairman of the Democratic Party; U.S. Senator Dick Neuberger; and U.S. Representative Edith Green. Sweetland talks about his relationship with Mark Hatfield and running for secretary of state against him in 1956; the 1962 presidential election and his support of John F. Kennedy; and his campaign for secretary of state in 1964. Finally, he discusses his activities after leaving the Legislature, including his interest in Indonesia and continued advocacy for education as a lobbyist for the National Education Association.

Sweetland, Monroe, 1910-2006

Oral history interview with Monroe Sweetland

This oral history interview with Monroe Sweetland was conducted by Andrew Bryans on March 16, 2002. In this interview, Sweetland discusses his family background and early life, including his childhood in rural Michigan; his early involvement in Democratic politics; and his experiences at Cornell University. He discusses his political activism during college, including his involvement with the Student League for Industrial Democracy and his political activism on behalf of Socialist candidates. Sweetland also discusses his political activities after his return to Oregon in 1935, including his work with the Oregon Commonwealth Federation and his decision to leave the Socialist Party and join the Democratic Party. Also discussed is his work with labor unions; the New Deal programs; and his work with the Oregon Democratic Party. He briefly talks about World War II and its effect on Oregon politics, particularly the effect the Hitler-Stalin pact had on American communists and the Oregon Commonwealth Federation; internment of Japanese-Americans; and his own pacifism.

Sweetland, Monroe, 1910-2006

Oral history interview with James K. Weatherford, Jr.

This oral history interview with James K. Weatherford was conducted by Michael O'Rourke in Weatherford's office in Albany, Oregon, from August 15 to September 5, 1991. In the interview, Weatherford discusses his family background and early life in Corvallis, Oregon. He talks about studying civil engineering at Oregon Agricultural College, including spending a summer in 1923 surveying for railroads in Alaska. He then talks about studying law at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., including his cross-country drive in 1924, and then at the University of Oregon. He briefly discusses the political and legal career of his grandfather, James K. Weatherford, for whom he was named. He discusses his time in the Oregon House of Representatives from 1931 to 1934, including his campaigns and his involvement with the Democratic Party. He briefly talks about his wife, Margaret Cartwright, and her family background. He goes on to talk about legislation he worked on, his fellow legislators, and lobbyists. He discusses his constituency; government versus the private sector; his committee assignments; and the income tax legislation of 1931. He also talks about the labor movements of the 1930s; public power; law enforcement; and education. He shares his impressions of Oregon governors Julius Meier, John Hall, and Charles Sprague. He speaks at length about Prohibition, and legislation regarding alcohol after its repeal. He discusses his fellow legislators, including Dorothy McCullough Lee and Homer Angell. He also speaks about his own experience during the Depression. Weatherford talks about serving as Linn County district attorney from 1935 to 1937, particularly dealing with banks and foreclosing on homes and farms during the Depression. He closes the interview by talking about serving on the Albany and Union High School boards.

Weatherford, James K., Jr. (James Knox), 1901-1995

Oral history interview with Don Clark

  • SR 1166
  • Collection
  • 1994 August 30 - 1998 March 27

Clark discusses family heritage, education, and career beginnings in the criminal justice system; experiences as Multnomah County sheriff; campaign for the Multnomah County Commission; modernization of county government in Oregon; Mt. Hood freeway and regional transportation planning, Burnside Consortium, Columbia Villa, single-payer health care, and numerous other subjects of policy and politics of city and county in the 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s.

Clark, Donald Edward, 1933-

Oral history interview with Vern Cook

This oral history interview with Robert Vernon "Vern" Cook was conducted by Clark Hansen at Cook's law office in Gresham, Oregon, and Cook's home in Troutdale, Oregon, from December 15, 1994, to October 15, 1995. In the interview, Cook discusses his family background and early life during the Depression in Las Animas, Colorado, and in Gresham. He also describes being a young man during World War II; being denied enlistment in the Navy due to polio; and his rehabilitation from polio. Cook discusses studying political science at Reed College and law at the University of Oregon, all while working concessions at various businesses in California with his brother. He talks about practicing law in Gresham; his involvement with the Democratic Party; and his first campaign for the Oregon House of Representatives in 1956. Cook discusses the legislation he worked on while serving in the House, including taxation, education, and worker's compensation. He also talks about serving on the judicial committee and related issues. He discusses some of the legislators he worked with, including Pat Dooley and Monroe Sweetland, as well as Governor Mark Hatfield.

Cook then describes his experience in the Oregon Senate, including serving on the judiciary committee and legislation on taxation, particularly sales taxes, as well as health insurance, education, land use, agriculture, domestic violence, and labor. He also talks about working with senators Tom Mahoney, Edith Green, Walter Pearson, Debbs Potts, Monte Montgomery, Alice Corbett, Ted Hallock, Jason Boe, and Vic Atiyeh. Cook also discusses party politics and its influence on the effectiveness of the Legislature during his tenure; the 1968 Democratic National Convention; and working with Governor Tom McCall and Portland Mayor Neil Goldschmidt. He also talks about his unsuccessful campaigns for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate; his involvement in Frank Church's campaign in the Democratic presidential primary in 1976; and the financial difficulties he faced as a legislator. He closes the interview by discussing his career as a lawyer since leaving the Legislature in 1980.

Cook, Vern (Robert Vernon), 1925-2008

Oral history interview with Ken Rinke

This oral history interview with Ken Rinke was conducted by Betsey Ellsworth from August 10-11, 1995. In this interview, Rinke discusses his family background and early life in St. Paul, Minnesota. He discusses his early interest in politics, including his involvement with the Farm Labor Party. He then talks about coming to Oregon in 1939; working odd jobs, including as a photographer; and then enlisting in the Oregon National Guard as an aerial photographer in 1941. He talks briefly about his service during World War II in Africa, then discusses his return to Oregon and subsequent involvement in the Democratic Party. He discusses recruiting Democratic candidates, alongside Howard Morgan and Monroe Sweetland, to run for state offices, as well as working on Democratic political campaigns, particularly Edith Green's 1954 campaign against Tom McCall for the U.S. House of Representatives. He closes the interview by talking about Bob Packwood's 1968 campaign against Wayne Morse for the U.S. Senate.

Rinke, Ken (Kenneth Earl), 1913-1997

Oral history interview with F. Leo Smith

This oral history interview with F. Leo Smith was conducted by Clark Hansen at Smith's home in Portland, Oregon, from September 23 to October 28, 1993. In this interview, Smith discusses the history of the Ku Klux Klan and anti-Catholic sentiment in Oregon. He then discusses the policies of the Democratic Party in the early 20th century, particularly in Oregon, and his involvement with the party. He describes his early law career in private practice during the Depression. He talks about his time in the Oregon House of Representatives from 1939 to 1944, including his campaigns, constituency, and committee assignments. He speaks at length about legislation he worked on in the House, particularly a bill on textbooks in public schools that was later overturned by the Oregon Supreme Court. He then discusses his brief term as Multnomah County district attorney, from 1957 to 1958, and the many vice cases he prosecuted. He also talks about his involvement with the Catholic Church as a member, lawyer, and lobbyist. He discusses his later career as a lobbyist, particularly his work on establishing the Public Employees Retirement System while lobbying for the Oregon State Employees Association, and in defeating a bill on abortion while lobbying for the Archdiocese of Portland. He closes the interview by talking about the changes in society over the 20th century.

Smith, F. Leo (Frank Leo)

Oral history interview with Gus J. Solomon

This oral history interview with Gus J. Solomon was conducted by Rick Harmon at the U.S. District Courthouse in Portland, Oregon, from July 23 to October 18, 1984. In this interview, Solomon discusses his family background and early life in Portland, including his memories of World War I, his Jewish upbringing, his father's store, and his education. He then discusses attending Reed College, his interest in history, and his subsequent transfer to the University of Chicago. He discusses studying law at Columbia University, including his social life in New York, then transferring to Stanford University, including his developing political beliefs. He also discusses his family's financial difficulties during this time period. He talks about the difficulty in finding a job in a law office during the Depression, and about some of the cases he worked on, particularly cases involving civil rights. He also talks about his involvement with the Democratic Party, the Oregon Commonwealth Foundation, and the American Civil Liberties Union. He describes his work toward establishing a legal aid program in Oregon, his work on public power, and his efforts getting jobs for young lawyers, particularly those from underrepresented groups. He describes being rejected for military service in World War II and cases he worked on related to internment of Japanese-Americans, particularly after the war.

Solomon discusses serving as a judge for the U.S. District Court of Oregon. He talks about his election to the bench and the opposition he faced; the adjustment from lawyer to judge; and his relationship with his fellow judges. He describes in detail his techniques for speeding up the judicial process, with some case examples. He then discusses his activities as a senior judge, beginning in 1971, which he describes as being largely the same as when he was an active judge. He talks about hearing cases in other districts, particularly in Southern California; the McCarthy era; and cases with political implications, particularly cases regarding the draft. He talks about serving as chief judge from 1959 to 1971, and the changes he made to rules and procedures of the court. He describes some of the law clerks he's had over his career, including Jerome Kohlberg, Jr. He speaks briefly about his early opposition to clubs with discriminatory policies. Solomon provides advice to lawyers on how to win cases, and discusses lawyers he has worked with. He talks about sentencing, judicial activism, and interpreting law.

Solomon closes the interview by talking about his personal life and activities. He discusses the many organizations he has belonged to, including the Reed College Alumni Association and Amnesty International. He also talks about organizations he regularly donates to, including the Jewish Federation. He describes his family life and the activities of his children and grandchildren.

Solomon, Gus J. (Gus Jerome), 1906-1987

Oral history interview with Libby Solomon

This oral history interview with Libby Solomon was conducted by Jim Strassmaier at Solomon's apartment in Portland, Oregon, from October 25 to November 22, 1989. In this interview, Solomon discusses her family history and early life in Russia and Portland, including assimilating to American culture as a young child; the death of her older sister, Roza Willer; her Jewish upbringing; and her education. She then discusses her brief education at Reed College and her love for microscopic work. She briefly discusses her Democratic politics. She talks about working in medical labs with various doctors, particularly Edmund Sears. She discusses her involvement in the Democratic Party and the Oregon Commonwealth Federation, as well as the people she met through those organizations, including Monroe Sweetland, Ruth Haefner, and Gus Solomon, who became her spouse. She speaks at length about Gus Solomon's appointment to the U.S. District Court of Oregon. She discusses some of her later activities, including taking classes at the Portland Art Museum School, and serving on the Portland art and zoo commissions. She also talks about her and Gus Solomon's decision to quit all clubs and organizations that had discriminatory admittance policies. She closes the interview by discussing her work on integrated housing.

Solomon, Libby (Elisabeth), 1909-2004