This oral history interview with Dorothea M. Lensch was conducted by Roberta Watts at the Oregon Historical Society in Portland, Oregon, in two sessions on December 5 and 16, 1977, as part of the oral history program at the society's research library. The sound quality is very poor.
In the first interview session, conducted on December 5, 1977, Lensch discusses her education in recreation at Mills College in Oakland, California, at the University of Oregon in Eugene, and at Wellesley College in Wellesley, Massachusetts. She talks about the development of the concept of recreation in public parks beyond playgrounds for children. She shares her reasons for returning to Portland after heading the dance department at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., speaks about serving as director of recreation for the Portland Parks Bureau with Paul Keyser, and discusses lobbying the city government for parks programs. She talks about services offered by the Parks Bureau in the 1930s and 1940s, including health services and child care; about acquiring buildings and land for the bureau; and about her experiences as a woman in municipal government. She speaks at length about developing performing arts and sports programs for the Parks Bureau. She shares her thoughts about the operations of the bureau at the time of the interview.
In the second interview session, conducted on December 16, 1977, Lensch discusses the work of the Portland Parks Bureau after her retirement, then reflects on the accomplishments of her career. She speaks about the importance of parks to communities, talks about the facilities and design of several specific parks, and describes the organizational structure of the bureau. Interviewer Watts discusses the prevalence of hostile architecture in parks, and Lensch talks about public art replacing street furniture in Portland. She speaks about her experience with recreational programming in other countries, particularly Germany. She closes the interview by talking about the long-term benefits of recreational programming for children and communities.
Lensch, Dorothea M. (Dorothea Marie), 1907-2000