This oral history interview with Claire Argow was conducted by Roberta Watts at Argow's home in Portland, Oregon, from November 28 to December 2, 1977. The interview was conducted in two sessions.
In the first interview session, conducted on November 28, 1977, Argow discusses her education and career in social work and criminology in New England, including her college experiences at Vassar and at Yale Law School, her work as assistant director for the Survey of Connecticut Prisons, and her work with the National Society for the Prevention of Crime in New York City. She talks about her views on capital punishment and about working with prisoners who were executed. She discusses her work with the Oregon Prison Association, and talks about prison conditions when she started in 1945, her successes in prison reforms, and opposition she faced.
In the second interview session, conducted on December 2, 1977, Argow talks about moving to Oregon in 1945 and shares her early impressions of the state, particularly regarding racism in Oregon. She discusses her work with Oregon Literacy, which helps adults learn to read and write, as well as learn English as a second language. She talks about her involvement in the creation of the Claire Argow Center, also known as the Multnomah County Women's Jail. She discusses the rising crime rate at the time of the interview in 1977, particularly among women. She closes the interview by speaking about her belief in restorative justice rather than only punitive approaches.