Name and location of repository
Level of description
Oral history interview with Monroe Sweetland
- 1984-11-16 - 1987-10-26 (Creation)
.1 cubic feet; 27 audiocassettes (25 hr., 52 min., 2 sec.) + index (115 pages) + 1 photograph (color, 3 x 5 in.)
Name of creator
Monroe Mark Sweetland was born in Salem, Oregon, in 1910. His family moved to Michigan in about 1915, and he spent the bulk of his childhood. He began his involvement with the Democratic Party when he was just 10 years old by clandestinely organizing a party meeting. He entered Wittenberg University in Ohio at age 16, then attended Cornell University and Syracuse Law School in New York. He met Lillie Megrath while attending Syracuse Law School and they were married in 1933. He returned to Oregon in 1935 and subsequently worked with the Commonwealth Federation, promoted progressive politics, and was instrumental in the rise of the Democratic Party to political power in the state. He also owned several newspapers in Oregon, including the Molalla Pioneer, the Newport News, and the Milwaukie Review. He represented Clackamas County in the Oregon House of Representatives 1953, and served in the Oregon Senate from 1955 to 1962. After leaving the Legislature, he moved to California and lobbied for the National Educaton Association. After retiring from politics, he began a business selling dried floral arrangements, called Western Wilderness Products. He returned to Oregon after his wife, Lillie, died in 1985, and he ran unsuccessfully for the Oregon Senate again in 1994. He died in 2006.
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Scope and content
This oral history interview with Monroe Mark Sweetland was conducted by Richard Harmon from November 16, 1984, to October 26, 1987, at the Oregon Historical Society in Portland, Oregon. In this interview, Sweetland discusses his family background and early life, including his childhood in rural Michigan; his early involvement in Democratic politics; and his experiences at Wittenberg University and Cornell University. He discusses his political activism during college, including his involvement with the Student League for Industrial Democracy and his political activism on behalf of Socialist candidates. Sweetland also discusses his political activities after his return to Oregon in 1935, including his work with the Oregon Commonwealth Federation and his decision to leave the Socialist Party and join the Democratic Party. Also discussed is his work with labor unions; the New Deal programs; and his work with the Oregon Democratic Party. He briefly talks about World War II and its effect on Oregon politics, particularly the effect the Hitler-Stalin pact had on American communists and the Oregon Commonwealth Federation; internment of Japanese-Americans; and his own pacifism. Sweetland goes on to talk about his involvement with the Democratic Party of Oregon after the war as national committeeman; the factions within the party; and mobilizing women and black voters. He also discusses his ownership of several Oregon newspapers (the Molalla Pioneer, the Newport News, and the Milwaukie Review) and about running them with the help of his wife, Lillie Sweetland. In addition, he describes his experiences as a legislator in the Oregon House of Representatives and Senate during the 1950s and early 1960s. Topics include: education; attempts to pass a sales tax; campaign finance; and Wayne Morse's switch to the Democratic Party. He also discusses working closely with Howard Morgan, the national chairman of the Democratic Party; U.S. Senator Dick Neuberger; and U.S. Representative Edith Green. Sweetland talks about his relationship with Mark Hatfield and running for secretary of state against him in 1956; the 1962 presidential election and his support of John F. Kennedy; and his campaign for secretary of state in 1964. Finally, he discusses his activities after leaving the Legislature, including his interest in Indonesia and continued advocacy for education as a lobbyist for the National Education Association.
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Conditions governing access
Copyright held by the Oregon Historical Society. Licensed under BY-NC-SA: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/
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Existence and location of originals
Existence and location of copies
Related archival materials
Additional oral history interviews with Monroe Sweetland are held by the Oregon Historical Society Research Library.
Monroe Sweetland papers, Mss 1747, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.
Preferred citation: Oral history interview with Monroe Sweetland, by Rick Harmon, SR 1130, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.
Forms part of the Oregon Legislature Oral History Series.
Incomplete transcript (626 pages) 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.
Subject access points
- Labor unions--Oregon
- Oregon--Politics and government--20th century
- United States--Politics and government--1933-1945
- New Deal, 1933-1939
- World War, 1939-1945
- Communists--United States
- Japanese Americans--Forced removal and internment, 1942-1945
- Political campaigns--Oregon
- Educational law and legislation
- Sales tax--Law and legislation--Oregon
- Presidents--United States--Elections--1960
Place access points
Name access points
- Oregon. Legislative Assembly (Subject)
- Democratic Party (Or.) (Subject)
- Socialist Party of the United States of America (Subject)
- Student League for Industrial Democracy (U.S.) (Subject)
- National Education Association of the United States (Subject)
- Morse, Wayne L. (Wayne Lyman), 1900-1974 (Subject)
- Morgan, Howard, 1914- (Subject)
- Neuberger, Richard L. (Richard Lewis), 1912-1960 (Subject)
- Green, Edith, 1910-1987 (Subject)
- Hatfield, Mark O., 1922-2011 (Subject)
- Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963 (Subject)
- Harmon, Rick (Subject)
- Sweetland, Lil M. (Lillie Megrath), 1912-1985 (Subject)