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Oral history interview with Don E. Clark

  • SR 1166
  • Collection
  • 1994-08-30 - 1998-03-27

This oral history interview with Don E. Clark was conducted by George M. Joseph at the Oregon Historical Society in Portland, Oregon, from August 30, 1994 to March 27, 1998. The interview was conducted over twenty-nine sessions, and the collection includes a transcript. Tape 13 of this interview is missing, and some sections of the interview have been restricted by Clark.

In sessions 1 through 5, Clark discusses his early life and career, including working as a prison guard at San Quentin State Prison in California and then as a deputy for the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office. In sessions 5 and 6, he discusses his 1962 campaign for Multnomah County sheriff. In sessions 7 through 9, he continues to speak about his campaign, and then discusses serving as Multnomah County sheriff from 1962 to 1966. In sessions 10 and 11, he discusses his 1966 re-election campaign for Multnomah County sheriff and his simultaneous campaign for chair of the Multnomah County board of commissioners; serving as assistant director of the Law Enforcement Program at Portland State University from 1967 to 1968, and his 1968 campaign for position 4 on the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners. In sessions 12 through 15, Clark talks about serving on the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners, focusing on the years from 1969 to 1974. In sessions 16 through 20, he talks about campaigning for and serving as chair of the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners from 1975 to 1979. In sessions 21 through 24, Clark discusses serving as county executive from 1979 to 1982, and his 1982 campaign for Oregon governor. In sessions 25 through 29, Clark talks about his activities since leaving office, including serving as executive director of the Burnside Consortium, now known as Central City Concern, from 1984 to 1988, and as executive director of the Housing Authority of Portland, now known as Home Forward, from 1988 to 1992.

Clark, Don E. (Donald Edward), 1933-

Oral history interview with Don E. Clark [Session 01, Recording 01]

Tape 1, Side 1. In the first session, conducted on August 30, 1994, Clark speaks at length about his family background, particularly the Kelly and Kern families. He talks about his early life, including his education, his memories of his parents, and his experiences during World War II. He discusses his involvement in high school student government and how that experience influenced his later political career.

Clark, Don E. (Donald Edward), 1933-

Oral history interview with Don E. Clark [Session 01, Recording 02]

Tape 1, Side 2. In the first session, conducted on August 30, 1994, Clark speaks at length about his family background, particularly the Kelly and Kern families. He talks about his early life, including his education, his memories of his parents, and his experiences during World War II. He discusses his involvement in high school student government and how that experience influenced his later political career.

Clark, Don E. (Donald Edward), 1933-

Oral history interview with Don E. Clark [Session 01, Recording 03]

Tape 2, Side 1. In the first session, conducted on August 30, 1994, Clark speaks at length about his family background, particularly the Kelly and Kern families. He talks about his early life, including his education, his memories of his parents, and his experiences during World War II. He discusses his involvement in high school student government and how that experience influenced his later political career.

Clark, Don E. (Donald Edward), 1933-

Oral history interview with Don E. Clark [Session 01, Recording 04]

Tape 2, Side 2. In the first session, conducted on August 30, 1994, Clark speaks at length about his family background, particularly the Kelly and Kern families. He talks about his early life, including his education, his memories of his parents, and his experiences during World War II. He discusses his involvement in high school student government and how that experience influenced his later political career.

Clark, Don E. (Donald Edward), 1933-

Oral history interview with Don E. Clark [Session 02, Recording 01]

Tape 3, Side 1. In the second interview session, conducted on February 23, 1995, Clark discusses his experiences at Vanport College, including the history of the college and its transformation into Portland State University. He talks about studying social science and how he became interested in law enforcement, and discusses some of his fellow students. He also talks about his courtship and marriage to Barbara Bolin. He then briefly discusses transferring to San Francisco State College. He speaks at length about working as a prison guard at San Quentin State Prison, including prison conditions, the daily operations of the prison, and some of the incarcerated people he oversaw. He describes witnessing executions and talks about prison labor.

Clark, Don E. (Donald Edward), 1933-

Oral history interview with Don E. Clark [Session 02, Recording 02]

Tape 3, Side 2. In the second interview session, conducted on February 23, 1995, Clark discusses his experiences at Vanport College, including the history of the college and its transformation into Portland State University. He talks about studying social science and how he became interested in law enforcement, and discusses some of his fellow students. He also talks about his courtship and marriage to Barbara Bolin. He then briefly discusses transferring to San Francisco State College. He speaks at length about working as a prison guard at San Quentin State Prison, including prison conditions, the daily operations of the prison, and some of the incarcerated people he oversaw. He describes witnessing executions and talks about prison labor.

Clark, Don E. (Donald Edward), 1933-

Oral history interview with Don E. Clark [Session 03, Recording 01]

Tape 4, Side 1. In the third interview session, conducted on July 25, 1995, Clark continues discussing working as a prison guard at San Quentin State Prison. He talks about prison labor, particularly the use of incarcerated people to fight fires, and about some of the incarcerated people he oversaw. He then speaks briefly about the history of the prison industrial complex. He talks about returning to Oregon in 1956 and working as a deputy in the Multnomah County Sheriff’s office, including his assignments, the history of the sheriff’s office, and working under Sheriff Terry Schrunk.

Clark, Don E. (Donald Edward), 1933-

Oral history interview with Don E. Clark [Session 03, Recording 02]

Tape 4, Side 2. In the third interview session, conducted on July 25, 1995, Clark continues discussing working as a prison guard at San Quentin State Prison. He talks about prison labor, particularly the use of incarcerated people to fight fires, and about some of the incarcerated people he oversaw. He then speaks briefly about the history of the prison industrial complex. He talks about returning to Oregon in 1956 and working as a deputy in the Multnomah County Sheriff’s office, including his assignments, the history of the sheriff’s office, and working under Sheriff Terry Schrunk.

Clark, Don E. (Donald Edward), 1933-

Oral history interview with Don E. Clark [Session 04, Recording 01]

Tape 5, Side 1. In the fourth interview session, conducted on August 8, 1995, Clark continues discussing working as a deputy in the Multnomah County Sheriff’s office. He talks about his reason for choosing the sheriff’s office over the Portland Police Bureau; discusses the merits of the sheriff being an elected position; and describes the differences between the sheriff’s office and municipal police departments. He talks about the importance of law enforcement having a good relationship with the community. He also talks about serving as a jail counselor at Rocky Butte Jail in 1958, teaching elementary school, and working with Sheriff Francis Lambert.

Clark, Don E. (Donald Edward), 1933-

Oral history interview with Don E. Clark [Session 04, Recording 02]

Tape 5, Side 1. In the fourth interview session, conducted on August 8, 1995, Clark continues discussing working as a deputy in the Multnomah County Sheriff’s office. He talks about his reason for choosing the sheriff’s office over the Portland Police Bureau; discusses the merits of the sheriff being an elected position; and describes the differences between the sheriff’s office and municipal police departments. He talks about the importance of law enforcement having a good relationship with the community. He also talks about serving as a jail counselor at Rocky Butte Jail in 1958, teaching elementary school, and working with Sheriff Francis Lambert.

Clark, Don E. (Donald Edward), 1933-

Oral history interview with Don E. Clark [Session 05, Recording 01]

Tape 6, Side 1. In the fifth interview session, conducted on August 16, 1995, Clark continues discussing working with Sheriff Francis Lambert. He talks about the organizational structure of the sheriff’s office, officer training, and making the decision to run for the position of sheriff in 1962. He describes his campaign and election, including his campaign staff, his strategy, and his opponents in the Democratic primary and general election.

Clark, Don E. (Donald Edward), 1933-

Oral history interview with Don E. Clark [Session 05, Recording 02]

Tape 6, Side 2. In the fifth interview session, conducted on August 16, 1995, Clark continues discussing working with Sheriff Francis Lambert. He talks about the organizational structure of the sheriff’s office, officer training, and making the decision to run for the position of sheriff in 1962. He describes his campaign and election, including his campaign staff, his strategy, and his opponents in the Democratic primary and general election.

Clark, Don E. (Donald Edward), 1933-

Oral history interview with Don E. Clark [Session 06, Recording 01]

Tape 7, Side 1. In the sixth interview session, conducted on August 30, 1995, Clark continues discussing his campaign for and election to the position of Multnomah County sheriff in 1962, including fundraising, his opponents in the Democratic primary and general election, and press coverage. He also talks about the winners of other local elections that year.

Clark, Don E. (Donald Edward), 1933-

Oral history interview with Don E. Clark [Session 06, Recording 02]

Tape 7, Side 2. In the sixth interview session, conducted on August 30, 1995, Clark continues discussing his campaign for and election to the position of Multnomah County sheriff in 1962, including fundraising, his opponents in the Democratic primary and general election, and press coverage. He also talks about the winners of other local elections that year.

Clark, Don E. (Donald Edward), 1933-

Oral history interview with Don E. Clark [Session 07, Recording 01]

Tape 8, Side 1. In the seventh interview session, conducted on November 1, 1995, Clark continues discussing his campaign for and election to Multnomah County sheriff in 1962, including his platform. He then discusses his service as Multnomah County sheriff from 1962 to 1966. He talks about the role of the sheriff’s office, the organizational structure of the office, and reforms he instituted, including his efforts to hire more women and people of color. He talks about his relationship with the police union and about increasing the pay for deputies.

Clark, Don E. (Donald Edward), 1933-

Oral history interview with Don E. Clark [Session 07, Recording 02]

Tape 8, Side 1. In the seventh interview session, conducted on November 1, 1995, Clark continues discussing his campaign for and election to Multnomah County sheriff in 1962, including his platform. He then discusses his service as Multnomah County sheriff from 1962 to 1966. He talks about the role of the sheriff’s office, the organizational structure of the office, and reforms he instituted, including his efforts to hire more women and people of color. He talks about his relationship with the police union and about increasing the pay for deputies.

Clark, Don E. (Donald Edward), 1933-

Oral history interview with Don E. Clark [Session 08, Recording 01]

Tape 9, Side 1. In the eighth interview session, conducted on January 24, 1996, Clark continues discussing his service as Multnomah County sheriff from 1962 to 1966. He talks about members of his staff, working with the Board of County Commissioners, and working with the Portland Police Bureau. He speaks at length about reforms he instituted at the sheriff’s office, including education requirements, crime scene procedures, and reorganization efforts. He talks about emergency response, sheriff jurisdiction, and officer training. He also describes appearing on Tom McCall’s television show in 1963 alongside Sheriff Jim Clark of Dallas County, Alabama. He then talks about his involvement in the National Sheriffs Association and the Oregon State Sheriffs Association, and describes how the Oregon association threatened to leave the national one if Sheriff Jim Clark were to become president. He discusses his opposition to the death penalty, his relationship with the press, and the jails he was responsible for. He speaks at length about prison conditions, reforms he implemented, and some of the incarcerated people. He also talks about an officer exchange between the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office and the Lancashire Constabulary in England. The remainder of this session (Tape 13) is missing.

Clark, Don E. (Donald Edward), 1933-

Oral history interview with Don E. Clark [Session 08, Recording 02]

Tape 9, Side 2. In the eighth interview session, conducted on January 24, 1996, Clark continues discussing his service as Multnomah County sheriff from 1962 to 1966. He talks about members of his staff, working with the Board of County Commissioners, and working with the Portland Police Bureau. He speaks at length about reforms he instituted at the sheriff’s office, including education requirements, crime scene procedures, and reorganization efforts. He talks about emergency response, sheriff jurisdiction, and officer training. He also describes appearing on Tom McCall’s television show in 1963 alongside Sheriff Jim Clark of Dallas County, Alabama. He then talks about his involvement in the National Sheriffs Association and the Oregon State Sheriffs Association, and describes how the Oregon association threatened to leave the national one if Sheriff Jim Clark were to become president. He discusses his opposition to the death penalty, his relationship with the press, and the jails he was responsible for. He speaks at length about prison conditions, reforms he implemented, and some of the incarcerated people. He also talks about an officer exchange between the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office and the Lancashire Constabulary in England. The remainder of this session (Tape 13) is missing.

Clark, Don E. (Donald Edward), 1933-

Oral history interview with Don E. Clark [Session 08, Recording 03]

Tape 10, Side 1. In the eighth interview session, conducted on January 24, 1996, Clark continues discussing his service as Multnomah County sheriff from 1962 to 1966. He talks about members of his staff, working with the Board of County Commissioners, and working with the Portland Police Bureau. He speaks at length about reforms he instituted at the sheriff’s office, including education requirements, crime scene procedures, and reorganization efforts. He talks about emergency response, sheriff jurisdiction, and officer training. He also describes appearing on Tom McCall’s television show in 1963 alongside Sheriff Jim Clark of Dallas County, Alabama. He then talks about his involvement in the National Sheriffs Association and the Oregon State Sheriffs Association, and describes how the Oregon association threatened to leave the national one if Sheriff Jim Clark were to become president. He discusses his opposition to the death penalty, his relationship with the press, and the jails he was responsible for. He speaks at length about prison conditions, reforms he implemented, and some of the incarcerated people. He also talks about an officer exchange between the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office and the Lancashire Constabulary in England. The remainder of this session (Tape 13) is missing.

Clark, Don E. (Donald Edward), 1933-

Oral history interview with Don E. Clark [Session 08, Recording 04]

Tape 10, Side 2. In the eighth interview session, conducted on January 24, 1996, Clark continues discussing his service as Multnomah County sheriff from 1962 to 1966. He talks about members of his staff, working with the Board of County Commissioners, and working with the Portland Police Bureau. He speaks at length about reforms he instituted at the sheriff’s office, including education requirements, crime scene procedures, and reorganization efforts. He talks about emergency response, sheriff jurisdiction, and officer training. He also describes appearing on Tom McCall’s television show in 1963 alongside Sheriff Jim Clark of Dallas County, Alabama. He then talks about his involvement in the National Sheriffs Association and the Oregon State Sheriffs Association, and describes how the Oregon association threatened to leave the national one if Sheriff Jim Clark were to become president. He discusses his opposition to the death penalty, his relationship with the press, and the jails he was responsible for. He speaks at length about prison conditions, reforms he implemented, and some of the incarcerated people. He also talks about an officer exchange between the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office and the Lancashire Constabulary in England. The remainder of this session (Tape 13) is missing.

Clark, Don E. (Donald Edward), 1933-

Oral history interview with Don E. Clark [Session 08, Recording 05]

Tape 11, Side 1. In the eighth interview session, conducted on January 24, 1996, Clark continues discussing his service as Multnomah County sheriff from 1962 to 1966. He talks about members of his staff, working with the Board of County Commissioners, and working with the Portland Police Bureau. He speaks at length about reforms he instituted at the sheriff’s office, including education requirements, crime scene procedures, and reorganization efforts. He talks about emergency response, sheriff jurisdiction, and officer training. He also describes appearing on Tom McCall’s television show in 1963 alongside Sheriff Jim Clark of Dallas County, Alabama. He then talks about his involvement in the National Sheriffs Association and the Oregon State Sheriffs Association, and describes how the Oregon association threatened to leave the national one if Sheriff Jim Clark were to become president. He discusses his opposition to the death penalty, his relationship with the press, and the jails he was responsible for. He speaks at length about prison conditions, reforms he implemented, and some of the incarcerated people. He also talks about an officer exchange between the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office and the Lancashire Constabulary in England. The remainder of this session (Tape 13) is missing.

Clark, Don E. (Donald Edward), 1933-

Oral history interview with Don E. Clark [Session 08, Recording 06]

Tape 11, Side 2. In the eighth interview session, conducted on January 24, 1996, Clark continues discussing his service as Multnomah County sheriff from 1962 to 1966. He talks about members of his staff, working with the Board of County Commissioners, and working with the Portland Police Bureau. He speaks at length about reforms he instituted at the sheriff’s office, including education requirements, crime scene procedures, and reorganization efforts. He talks about emergency response, sheriff jurisdiction, and officer training. He also describes appearing on Tom McCall’s television show in 1963 alongside Sheriff Jim Clark of Dallas County, Alabama. He then talks about his involvement in the National Sheriffs Association and the Oregon State Sheriffs Association, and describes how the Oregon association threatened to leave the national one if Sheriff Jim Clark were to become president. He discusses his opposition to the death penalty, his relationship with the press, and the jails he was responsible for. He speaks at length about prison conditions, reforms he implemented, and some of the incarcerated people. He also talks about an officer exchange between the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office and the Lancashire Constabulary in England. The remainder of this session (Tape 13) is missing.

Clark, Don E. (Donald Edward), 1933-

Oral history interview with Don E. Clark [Session 08, Recording 07]

Tape 12, Side 1. In the eighth interview session, conducted on January 24, 1996, Clark continues discussing his service as Multnomah County sheriff from 1962 to 1966. He talks about members of his staff, working with the Board of County Commissioners, and working with the Portland Police Bureau. He speaks at length about reforms he instituted at the sheriff’s office, including education requirements, crime scene procedures, and reorganization efforts. He talks about emergency response, sheriff jurisdiction, and officer training. He also describes appearing on Tom McCall’s television show in 1963 alongside Sheriff Jim Clark of Dallas County, Alabama. He then talks about his involvement in the National Sheriffs Association and the Oregon State Sheriffs Association, and describes how the Oregon association threatened to leave the national one if Sheriff Jim Clark were to become president. He discusses his opposition to the death penalty, his relationship with the press, and the jails he was responsible for. He speaks at length about prison conditions, reforms he implemented, and some of the incarcerated people. He also talks about an officer exchange between the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office and the Lancashire Constabulary in England. The remainder of this session (Tape 13) is missing.

Clark, Don E. (Donald Edward), 1933-

Oral history interview with Don E. Clark [Session 08, Recording 08]

Tape 12, Side 2. In the eighth interview session, conducted on January 24, 1996, Clark continues discussing his service as Multnomah County sheriff from 1962 to 1966. He talks about members of his staff, working with the Board of County Commissioners, and working with the Portland Police Bureau. He speaks at length about reforms he instituted at the sheriff’s office, including education requirements, crime scene procedures, and reorganization efforts. He talks about emergency response, sheriff jurisdiction, and officer training. He also describes appearing on Tom McCall’s television show in 1963 alongside Sheriff Jim Clark of Dallas County, Alabama. He then talks about his involvement in the National Sheriffs Association and the Oregon State Sheriffs Association, and describes how the Oregon association threatened to leave the national one if Sheriff Jim Clark were to become president. He discusses his opposition to the death penalty, his relationship with the press, and the jails he was responsible for. He speaks at length about prison conditions, reforms he implemented, and some of the incarcerated people. He also talks about an officer exchange between the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office and the Lancashire Constabulary in England. The remainder of this session (Tape 13) is missing.

Clark, Don E. (Donald Edward), 1933-

Oral history interview with Don E. Clark [Session 09, Recording 01]

Tape 14, Side 1. In the ninth interview session, conducted on February 28, 1995, Clark continues discussing his service as Multnomah County sheriff. He speaks at length about deputy recruitment, job requirements, and training. He also talks about his efforts to hire more Black, Native American, and women deputies. He discusses the lasting impacts his efforts at reform had on the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office. He talks about the implementation of Home Rule in 1966 and how it changed the office of sheriff to an appointed one, and the confusing election season that year.

Clark, Don E. (Donald Edward), 1933-

Oral history interview with Don E. Clark [Session 09, Recording 02]

Tape 14, Side 2. In the ninth interview session, conducted on February 28, 1995, Clark continues discussing his service as Multnomah County sheriff. He speaks at length about deputy recruitment, job requirements, and training. He also talks about his efforts to hire more Black, Native American, and women deputies. He discusses the lasting impacts his efforts at reform had on the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office. He talks about the implementation of Home Rule in 1966 and how it changed the office of sheriff to an appointed one, and the confusing election season that year.

Clark, Don E. (Donald Edward), 1933-

Oral history interview with Don E. Clark [Session 09, Recording 03 & Session 10, Recording 01]

Tape 15, Side 1. In the ninth interview session, conducted on February 28, 1995, Clark continues discussing his service as Multnomah County sheriff. He speaks at length about deputy recruitment, job requirements, and training. He also talks about his efforts to hire more Black, Native American, and women deputies. He discusses the lasting impacts his efforts at reform had on the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office. He talks about the implementation of Home Rule in 1966 and how it changed the office of sheriff to an appointed one, and the confusing election season that year. In the tenth interview session, conducted on March 5, 1996, Clark discusses his 1966 re-election campaign for Multnomah County sheriff, and his simultaneous campaign for chair of the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners. He describes the organizational structure of the county commission under the recently enacted Home Rule Charter. He talks about his successors in the sheriff’s office and his activities after leaving office, including serving as assistant director of the Law Enforcement Program at Portland State University from 1967 to 1968.

Clark, Don E. (Donald Edward), 1933-

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