Name and location of repository
Level of description
Oral history interview with John D. Burns
- 1992-04-22 - 1993-02-28 (Creation)
.1 cubic feet 23 audiocassettes (21 hr., 22 sec.) + transcript (413 pages) + 1 photograph (color, 4 x 6 in.)
Name of creator
John David Burns was born in Portland, Oregon, in 1936, and grew up in Condon, Oregon. He attended Notre Dame University, dropping out briefly in 1957 due to his mother's ill health, but returning later that year to finish his degree. He then attended Georgetown University, earning his law degree in 1961. He returned to Oregon to practice law in Portland. He was deputy district attorney in Multnomah County for many years, and then worked in a private law firm with Pat Dooley. Burns and Brooke Claridge were married in 1963; they had four children, and divorced in 1982 or 1983.
Pat Dooley encouraged Burns to run for the Legislature. Burns became a Democratic politician and represented Multnomah County in the Oregon State Senate from 1967 to 1975, serving as Senate president from 1971 to 1973. After leaving the Legislature, he continued his law practice, worked as a lobbyist, and was active in several civic organizations.
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Scope and content
This oral history interview with John D. Burns was conducted by Clark Hansen at Burns' office in Portland, Oregon, from April 22, 1992, to February 28, 1993. In this interview, Burns discusses his family background and early life in Condon, Oregon, particularly life on a ranch. He then discusses attending Notre Dame University, including his involvement in athletics; and attending Georgetown University Law School, including how his political views solidified during this time. He also talks about working for Senator Dick Neuberger. Burns discusses returning to Oregon to work as a lawyer, then as deputy district attorney in Multnomah County, including working with George Van Hoomissen, and cases he tried. He discusses his time as a lawyer in a firm with Pat Dooley, working on insurance cases. He also talks about his involvement in the Democratic Party and politics. He speaks briefly about his marriage to Brooke Claridge and their four children.
Burns discusses his legislative career in the Oregon Senate from 1967 to 1975, including his campaigns. He discusses legislation he worked on, including revising the criminal code, taxes, environmental legislation, abortion, transportation, mental health, his committee assignments, and Senate procedure. He also talks about his fellow legislators, including Tony Yturri, Stafford Hansell, Lynn Newbry, and Debbs Potts. He discusses the coalition of conservative Democrats and Republicans that controlled the Senate for many decades. Burns then discusses his time as president of the Senate from 1971 to 1973, including the process of getting elected to the position, reducing the number of committees, and reapportionment. He talks about many of the landmark pieces of legislation that passed during his tenure, including the Bottle Bill and the raising of the voting age to 18. He also discusses his relationship with the press; the election of Jason Boe as Senate president in 1973; and the land-use bill SB 100.
After a year-long break, the interview resumes with a discussion of Oregon politics in 1993, including politicians that Burns considered rising stars, such as John Kitzhaber and Gordon Smith. He also discusses his work as a lobbyist and lawyer after leaving the Legislature. He then returns to the topic of legislation during his time in the Senate. He discusses the changes in the Legislature and the Democratic Party in the years since he left. He closes the interview by discussing his current activities and hopes for the future.
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Conditions of access and use elements
Conditions governing access
Collection is open for research.
Conditions governing reproduction
Copyright is held by the Oregon Historical Society. Licensed under: Creative Commons, BY-NC-SA: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/
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Related archival materials
Preferred citation: Oral history interview with John D. Burns, by Clark Hansen, SR 1108, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.
Forms part of the Oregon Legislature Oral History Series.
Handwritten index (29 pages) is available for in-person use in the Oregon Historical Society Research Library.
Description control element
Rules or conventions
Finding aid based on DACS (Describing Archives: A Content Standard), 2nd Edition.