This oral history interview with Neva Elliott was conducted by S. Diane Rynerson from April 10 to July 10, 1992, as part of the United States District Court Oral History Project. The interview was conducted in seven sessions. The audio for session 7 is missing; its contents are included in an incomplete transcript of the interview.
In the first interview session, conducted on April 10, 1992, Elliott discusses her family background and early life in Damascus, Oregon, including the store and dance hall that her parents operated, her family's farm, and her social life. She describes family vacations, and shares her memories of family homes in Twin Rocks, Oregon, and in the Irvington neighborhood of Portland. She talks about the impact the Great Depression had on her family. She discusses her experiences at Jefferson High School in Portland, including acting as public speaker for the school's community chest. She then talks about her love for writing, especially poetry. She shares why she decided to attend Reed College, and talks about what she studied.
In the second interview session, conducted on May 1, 1992, Elliott continues to discuss her experiences at Reed College, including her involvement in literary activities, a fast reading class she took and how it influenced her legal research, and her social life. She speaks at length about Reed College, including its reputation, social activities, and academic system. She then talks about her experience on the debate team, and particularly the Reed College Players, a student group that produced dramas. She also shares her memories about meeting James Beard through Reed College Players. She then talks about attending Northwestern College of Law in Portland while working as a secretary for Charles Spackman. She briefly talks about meeting her husband, Neil Chinnock, in law school. She discusses her early law career as a secretary for Frank Seaver, and as a court referee for U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Esta Snedeker. She talks about her experience as a lawyer, including bankruptcy cases and criminal cases. She also talks about starting her own law practice in Portland during World War II.
In the third interview session, conducted on May 15, 1992, Elliott shares her memories of appearing before Judge Alger Fee. She speaks at length about cases she worked on, including a criminal case she argued before Judge Robert S. Bain. She talks about the challenges she faced as a woman in the field of law. She also shares her memories of Judge Claude McCulloch. She then talks about her appointment as judge in the municipal court, and briefly discusses serving as a pro tem judge on the Multnomah County District Court.
In the fourth interview session, conducted on June 4, 1992, Elliott speaks at length about some of her cases as a lawyer, including being hired by a woman called as a witness against Chicago mobster Mickey Cohen, and the woman's subsequent murder. She talks about her involvement in several clubs, including the advertising club, about women attorneys she was acquainted with, and about handling her inheritance from her mother. She also talks about receiving an estate from a former client.
In the fifth interview session, conducted on June 26, 1992, Elliott speaks further about women lawyers she was acquainted with, including Shirley Field, Jean L. Lewis, and Helen Althaus. She also talks at length about Portland Mayor Dorothy McCullough Lee, and about Oregon's first woman judge, Mary Jane Spurlin. She discusses serving as chair of the Lewis and Clark College alumni class of 1935.
In the sixth interview session, conducted on July 10, 1992, Elliott talks about her involvement with several clubs and organizations, including the women's advertising club and the Advertisement Association of the West. She then talks about her friendship with Robert Gros, a retired vice president of Pacific Gas and Electric. She speaks at length about trips to Central America, India, and Europe. She also briefly discusses hearing about the death of John F. Kennedy during her travels, and shares her obsrvations of reactions to the news around the world. She then talks about her interest in Asian cultures and antiques, and describes her antique and book collections.
Elliott, Neva M. (Neva Marline), 1908-2001