Name and location of repository
Level of description
Oral history interview with Maurine B. Neuberger
- 1991-08-26 - 1991-12-12 (Creation)
.1 cubic feet; 12 audiocassettes (11 hr., 41 min., 18 sec.) + transcript (368 pages)
Name of creator
Maurine Brown Neuberger was born in Cloverdale, Oregon, in 1907. She earned a teaching certificate at the Oregon College of Education (now part of Western Oregon University) in 1924. In 1929, she graduated from the University of Oregon with a bachelor of arts degree in English and physical education. She also did graduate work at UCLA. She worked as an English teacher at Lincoln High School in Portland, Oregon. In 1945, she and Democratic Congressman Richard Neuberger were married. After Richard Neuberger was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1948, Maurine Neuberger also entered politics. In 1951, she was elected to the Oregon House of Representatives, where she represented Multnomah County until 1955. Richard Neuberger died in 1960, and Maurine ran for and won his Senate seat that same year. While in the Senate, she served on President John F. Kennedy's Commission on the Status of Women. In 1964, Neuberger and Philip Solomon were married. That same year, she declined to run for a second term, instead relocating to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she taught at Radcliffe and at Boston University. In 1967, she and Solomon divorced, and she returned to Portland. She taught at Reed College and continued to have an active role in the Oregon Democratic Party. She died in 2000.
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Scope and content
This oral history interview with Maurine B. Neuberger was conducted by Clark Hansen from August 26 to December 12, 1991. The interview was conducted over eight sessions. The first session was conducted at the Oregon Historical Society in Portland, Oregon, while the rest were conducted at Neuberger's home in Portland.
In the first session, conducted on August 26, 1991, Neuberger discusses her family background and early life in Wilsonville, Oregon, including working on her grandparents' Salem farm, her education, and her memories of World War I. She talks about her experience at Monmouth College (now Western Oregon University), and then at the University of Oregon. She talks about teaching high school after graduating in 1929. She shares her memories of the Depression, her excitement at the election of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and living in Portland. She also talks about teaching in Providence, Rhode Island, for a year, and discusses a trip to Japan and China in 1940 and a trip to Europe in the 1930s. She discusses her involvement in the teachers' union, her summer activities, and meeting Dick Neuberger.
In the second interview session, conducted on August 30, 1991, Neuberger continues discussing her husband, Dick Neuberger, including his expulsion from Oregon State University and some of his early political beliefs. She also talks about their marriage, Dick Neuberger's early political career, and the development of the Oregon Democratic Party in the 1940s and 1950s. Neuberger then discusses her service in the Oregon House of Representatives from 1951 to 1955, including her campaign, her focus on civil rights and education, and her committee assignments. She also talks about the urban/rural divide in the Legislature and the state Legislature's relationship with the Oregon federal delegation.
In the third interview session, conducted on September 6, 1991, Neuberger continues discussing her service in the Oregon House of Representatives from 1951 to 1955. She talks about legislation she worked on, particularly regarding billboards, consumer protection, education, and tax deductions for child care expenses. She speaks about lobbyists, reactionary right-wing groups, and the timber industry.
In the fourth interview session, conducted on September 13, 1991, Neuberger continues discussing her service in the Oregon House of Representatives from 1951 to 1955. She continues talking about legislation she worked on, particularly regarding education. She talks about her re-election in 1953, her constituency, and her relationship with the press. She also talks about the salary she earned as a legislator, as well as the social life in Salem. She discusses Oregon state taxes, and the need for an annual legislative session. She then discusses Dick Neuberger's service in the Oregon Senate from 1949 to 1954 and talks about his campaign for the United States Senate in 1954.
In the fifth interview session, conducted on November 29, 1991, Neuberger discusses moving to Washington, D.C., in 1955. She talks about helping Dick Neuberger set up his Senate office, and about his staff. She discusses Dick Neuberger's service in the U.S. Senate from 1955 to 1960. She discusses his committee assignments, legislation he worked on, and senators he worked with. She also talks about Dick Neuberger's relationship with Senator Wayne Morse. She speaks about her social life and other activities while in Washington, D.C. She then talks about Dick Neuberger's failing health and his death from cancer in 1960. She discusses running for her husband's Senate seat later that year and speaks at length about her campaign. She talks about her service in the U.S. Senate from 1960 to 1965. She discusses her committee assignments and senators she worked with.
In the sixth interview session, conducted on December 9, 1991, Neuberger continues discussing her service in the U.S. Senate. She talks about the facilities available to women in the Senate building, legislation she worked on, and working with the John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson administrations. She discusses some of the world events that occurred during her service, including the Cuban Missile Crisis. Neuberger and Hansen then look at and discuss photographs.
In the seventh interview session, conducted on December 10, 1991, Neuberger continues discussing her service in the U.S. Senate. She talks about her relationship with various foreign diplomats, shares her memories of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, and describes her vote for the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin resolution. She talks about the nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court during the 1950s and 1960s, as well as some of the senators she worked with. She describes some of the major pieces of legislation during the Lyndon B. Johnson administration, including the 1964 Civil Rights bill and the War on Poverty. She discusses her own legislative agenda, her reasons for not pursuing a second term, and her marriage to Philip Solomon in 1964. She also talks about her senatorial staff.
In the eighth and final interview session, conducted on December 12, 1991, Neuberger discusses her relationship with the Democratic Party and reflects on her final years the U.S. Senate. She continues talking about her senatorial staff. She then talks about her activities since leaving politics, including teaching at Radcliffe College, sitting on various commissions, and serving as an inspector of embassies. She shares her opinion of President Richard M. Nixon, and recounts witnessing him hitting his wife in public. She also shares her opinion of the Democratic Party leadership, as well as prominent Oregon politicians at the time of the interview in 1991, including Mark Hatfield. She closes the interview by talking about the expense of campaigning, the increasing role of women in politics, and her thoughts about the future.
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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/
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Related archival materials
Additional oral history interviews with Maurine Neuberger, designated SR 9523 and SR 9037, as well as the Maurine and Richard L. Neuberger papers, Mss 791, are held at the Oregon Historical Society Research Library.
Preferred citation: Oral history interview with Maurine B. Neuberger, by Clark Hansen, SR 1141, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.
Forms part of the Oregon Legislature Oral History Series.
Handwritten index (24 pages) is available for in-person use at the Oregon Historical Society Research Library.
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Finding aid based on DACS (Describing Archives: A Content Standard), 2nd Edition.