Oral history interview with James A. Redden [Sound Recording 37]

Identity elements

Reference code


Name and location of repository

Level of description



Oral history interview with James A. Redden [Sound Recording 37]


  • 1998-11-09 (Creation)


Audiocassette; 00:31:07

Name of creator

Biographical history

James "Jim" Anthony Redden was born in 1929 and grew up in Massachusetts. In 1946, while he was in high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving two years as a medic stationed in Japan, where he saw firsthand the effects of the bombing of Hiroshima. In 1951, he married Joan Johnson. After earning a high school diploma, he attended Boston College and Boston College Law School, where he graduated with a law degree in 1954. He practiced law in Massachusetts for a year, then came to Portland, Oregon, where he worked for various insurance companies before moving to Medford, Oregon, to build his own law firm. He was a Democrat who represented the 19th District in the Oregon House of Representatives from 1962 to 1969, serving as minority leader from 1967 to 1969. From 1970 to 1972, he was chairman of the Public Employee Relations Board. From 1973 to 1976, he was state treasurer, and then attorney general from 1977 to 1980, before he was appointed to the U.S. District Court by President Jimmy Carter in 1980. He served as chief justice from 1990 to 1995, whereupon he took senior status.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

Tape 20, Side 1. This oral history interview with James A. Redden was conducted by Michael O’Rourke in Redden’s chambers at the U.S. District courthouse in Portland, Oregon, from November 30, 1994, to January 14, 2002. The audio is incomplete; Tape 27 is missing as of 2015.In this interview, Redden discusses his family background and early life in Massachusetts, including his memories of the Depression. He then talks about his Army service in the Pacific theater during World War II. He discusses his college experience at the Boston University College of Business Administration and the Boston College Law School, including his social life, his professors, and the evolution of his political views. He also talks about his marriage to Joan Johnson; his jobs after law school; and relocating to Oregon. He discusses practicing law in Medford, including some of the cases he tried and judges he argued before. He then talks about his involvement with the Democratic Party, including serving as central committee chair and his involvement in Oregon campaigns, particularly the 1960 Democratic presidential primary.Redden discusses serving in the Oregon House of Representatives from 1962 to 1969. He describes each legislative session, including his campaigns; legislation that came up, including on pollution, insurance, electrical utilities, and taxes; and his fellow legislators, including Clarence Barton, Monte Montgomery, and Berkeley Lent. He also talks about balancing his legislative duties with his law practice and family life; working with lobbyists; and national politics contemporary to the interview in 1995. He also talks about the passage of the Beach Bill in 1967; his experience as a delegate to the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois; and his 1972 campaign for Oregon treasurer. He discusses serving as Oregon state treasurer from 1972 to 1976, including his duties and accomplishments. He then discusses serving as Oregon attorney general from 1977 to 1980, including his campaign and cases he prosecuted, particularly on Native American fishing rights.Redden discusses serving as a judge on the U.S. District Court of Oregon from 1980 to 1995. He describes his appointment by President Jimmy Carter. He talks about his fellow judges, including Helen Frye and Owen Panner; the procedures of the court, particularly scheduling and the role of magistrate judges; and lawyers that argued before him. He discusses the selection and role of juries in federal court, as well as the increasing politicization of judicial appointments. He speaks at length about his role in and the background of The United States v. Loudhawk and the American Indian Movement. He closes the interview by discussing cases he heard regarding the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act in the late 1990s, and talking about his children, their careers, and their families.

System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

Joint copyright for this interview is held by the Oregon Historical Society and the U.S. District Court of Oregon Historical Society. Use is allowed according to the following statement: In Copyright – Educational Use Permitted - http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/InC-EDU/1.0/

Physical access

Technical access

Conditions governing reproduction

Languages of the material

  • English

Scripts of the material

Language and script notes

Finding aids

Acquisition and appraisal elements

Custodial history

Immediate source of acquisition

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information


Related materials elements

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related archival materials

Related descriptions

Notes element

Specialized notes

Alternative identifier(s)

Description control element

Rules or conventions

Sources used

Access points

Place access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Digital object metadata

Digital object (Master) rights area

Digital object (Reference) rights area

Accession area