Oral history interview with Gerry Frank

Oral history interview with Gerry Frank [Transcript] Oral history interview with Gerry Frank [Sound Recording 01] Oral history interview with Gerry Frank [Sound Recording 02] Oral history interview with Gerry Frank [Sound Recording 03] Oral history interview with Gerry Frank [Sound Recording 04] Oral history interview with Gerry Frank [Sound Recording 05] Oral history interview with Gerry Frank [Sound Recording 06] Oral history interview with Gerry Frank [Sound Recording 07] Oral history interview with Gerry Frank [Sound Recording 08] Oral history interview with Gerry Frank [Sound Recording 09] Oral history interview with Gerry Frank [Sound Recording 10] Oral history interview with Gerry Frank [Sound Recording 11]

Identity elements

Reference code

SR 1002

Name and location of repository

Level of description

Collection

Title

Oral history interview with Gerry Frank

Date(s)

  • 1991-07-16 - 1992-04-29 (Creation)

Extent

.1 cubic feet; 7 audiocassettes (4 hr., 44 min., 19 sec.) + transcript (99 pages)

Name of creator

(1923-)

Biographical history

Gerald "Gerry" Wendell Frank was born in Portland, Oregon, in 1923. He attended Stanford University, where he enrolled in the Reserve Officer Training Program. He was called to active duty in the U.S. Army in 1943, and served in the European theater during World War II. During his Army training in California, he studied engineering at Loyola University. After his discharge in 1945, he remained in England and attended Cambridge University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in economics and a master's degree in politics. After graduating, he returned to Portland and worked at the family business, the Meier & Frank department store. He opened and managed the Meier & Frank store in Salem, Oregon in 1955. After the sale of Meier & Frank in 1965, Frank became involved with Mark Hatfield's political career, eventually becoming the senator's chief of staff. In 1981, he opened a dessert shop in Salem called Gerry Frank's Konditorei. He was a longtime contributor to the Oregonian newspaper and also authored a guidebook entitled "Gerry Frank's Oregon."

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

This oral history interview with Gerry Frank was conducted by Jim Strassmaier in Frank's office in Salem, Oregon, from July 16, 1991, to April 29, 1992. The interview was conducted in four sessions.

In the first interview session, conducted on July 16, 1991, Frank discusses his family background and how it intertwines with the history of the Meier & Frank Company. He talks about the company's founding in 1857 by his great-grandfather, Aaron Meier, and the growth of the store during the 19th century, including the store's Friday Surprise marketing strategy and the buildings the store inhabited. He then talks about the history of Meier & Frank during the early 20th century, including his uncle Julius Meier's term as Oregon governor from 1931 to 1935, competition with other department stores in Portland, and Meier & Frank's newspaper advertisements. He also talks about the life of his father, Aaron Meier Frank.

In the second interview session, conducted on November 6, 1991, Frank continues discussing the life of his father, Aaron Meier Frank, including his management of the Meier & Frank Department Store beginning in 1937. He also continues discussing Meier & Frank's newspaper advertisements. He talks about the use of credit lines in the department store, particularly during the Depression. He discusses the Meier & Frank board of directors, and begins talking about the expansion of the store into Salem.

In the third interview session, conducted on December 21, 1991, Frank continues discussing the expansion of the Meier & Frank Department Store into Salem. He talks about managing the Salem branch from 1955 to 1965, including tailoring merchandise to the Salem community, his involvement in Salem community organizations, and his relationship with his employees. He also talks about the store's seasonal events and his relationship with other Meier & Frank store managers.

In the fourth and final interview session, conducted on April 29, 1992, Frank discusses the conditions that led to the sale of the Meier & Frank Department Store to the May Company in 1965. He describes the family divisions surrounding the sale. He then talks about resigning as manager of the Salem branch and the effect of the sale on the store's personnel and customer base. He closes the interview by talking about his relationship with the management of the Meier & Frank Department Store at the time of the interview in 1992.

System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

Copyright for this interview is held by the Oregon Historical Society. Use is allowed according to the following statement: Creative Commons - BY-NC-SA: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/.

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

Accruals

Related materials elements

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

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Related descriptions

Notes element

General note

Preferred citation: Oral history interview with Gerry Frank, by Jim Strassmaier, SR 1002, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.

Specialized notes

Alternative identifier(s)

Description control element

Rules or conventions

Finding aid based on DACS (Describing Archives: A Content Standard), 2nd Edition.

Sources used

Archivist's note

Sarah Stroman

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Accession area