Name and location of repository
Level of description
Oral history interview with Douglas R. Spencer
- 2008-02-27 - 2008-06-20 (Creation)
.1 cubic feet; 8 audiocassettes (8 hr., 13 min., 8 sec.)
Name of creator
Douglas R. Spencer was born in Eugene, Oregon, in 1923. He attended Harvard University from 1941 until his naval reserve unit was activated in 1944. He served in the Pacific Theater during World War II. In 1946, after the war, he returned to Harvard and earned both a bachelor of arts degree and a law degree in 1949. He returned to Eugene and became an assistant Lane County district attorney. He met Amy Lou Ware while there, and they married in 1950. They later had three children. In 1951, he left the district attorney's office and entered private law practice in Cottage Grove. Six months later, he returned to Eugene and became an adjunct professor at the University of Oregon for one term, then a research attorney for the League of Oregon Cities. He then practiced law with Bailey & Hoffman in Eugene from 1953 to 1967. He also served as the chair of the Lane County Housing Authority. He ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the Lane County Circuit Court in 1960. However, Governor Tom McCall appointed him to that bench in 1967. He took senior status in 1989. Spencer died in 2013.
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Scope and content
This oral history interview with Douglas R. Spencer was conducted by Craig J. Capon in Eugene, Oregon, from February 27 to June 20, 2008. In this interview, Spencer discusses his children and grandchildren, as well as his family background and early life in Eugene. He talks about going to the Lane County courthouse to watch trials for fun during high school. He then talks about attending Harvard University for several years before his naval reserve unit was activated in 1944. He describes his naval service in the Pacific Theater during World War II, including an experience when his ship was hit by a kamikaze. He talks about returning to finish his degree and study law at Harvard in 1946, and describes some of his classes and his social life. He then talks about returning to Eugene to prepare for the Oregon bar exam, meeting Amy Lou Ware, and their subsequent marriage.
Spencer discusses working as an assistant Lane County district attorney from 1949 to 1951. He talks about some of the cases he prosecuted, some of the judges he argued before, and lawyers he worked with. He then talks about practicing law in Cottage Grove for six months. He discusses teaching at the University of Oregon as an adjunct professor, then joining the Eugene law firm Bailey & Hoffman in 1953. He describes his daily life as a law associate, as well as his involvement with the Young Republicans. He describes events in the Lane County bar and Circuit Court that led up to his appointment to the court in 1967, particularly regarding Judge Frank Reid. He discusses serving as a judge on the Lane County Circuit Court from 1967 to 1989. He describes his daily activities as a judge and his staff. He also talks about changes in the court over the years, particularly societal changes and how they affected the judicial system. He describes some of the more complicated cases he heard, particularly those involving the death penalty. He discusses his reasons for retiring in 1989, as well as his retirement activities. He closes the interview by talking about the differences between the state and federal judiciary.
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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/
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Acquisition and appraisal elements
Immediate source of acquisition
Gift of the U.S. District Court of Oregon Historical Society, October 2009 (as Lib. Acc. 26979).
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Existence and location of originals
Existence and location of copies
Related archival materials
Preferred citation: Oral history interview with Douglas R. Spencer, by Craig J. Capon, SR 11186, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.
Forms part of the United States District Court Oral History Project.
Incomplete transcript (138 pages) is available for in-person use at the Oregon Historical Society Research Library.
Description control element
Rules or conventions
Finding aid based on DACS (Describing Archives: A Content Standard), 2nd Edition.