Series SR 1213 - Oral history interview with William G. East

Oral history interview with William G. East [Sound Recording 01] Oral history interview with William G. East [Sound Recording 02] Oral history interview with William G. East [Sound Recording 03] Oral history interview with William G. East [Sound Recording 04] Oral history interview with William G. East [Sound Recording 05] Oral history interview with William G. East [Sound Recording 06] Oral history interview with William G. East [Sound Recording 07] Oral history interview with William G. East [Sound Recording 08]

Identity elements

Reference code

SR 1213

Name and location of repository

Level of description

Series

Title

Oral history interview with William G. East

Date(s)

  • 1984-11-08 - 1984-11-15 (Creation)

Extent

.1 cubic feet 4 audiocassettes (3 hr., 57 min., 38 sec.)

Name of creator

Biographical history

William G. East was born in Kansas in 1908. The "G," he insisted, stood for nothing, despite one aunt telling him it stood for Grant. He came to Salem, Oregon, with his family at a young age, where his father worked at a bank. His father was killed in a fire at the bank around 1910. He attended the University of Oregon, earning his bachelor of law degree in 1931 and his juris doctorate in 1932. While in college, he joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps to help pay his tuition. In 1933, he and Louise Frances Wilhelm were married; they had later one child. He practiced law in Eugene, Oregon, until 1942, when he was called up to serve in the U.S. Army during World War II. He served from 1942 to 1946. After his discharge, he returned to private law practice in Eugene. He served as city attorney for Eugene from 1946 to 1947, and in 1949 he was appointed judge for the second district of the Oregon Circuit Court by Governor Douglas McKay. He served on that bench until he was appointed to the U.S. District Court of Oregon by President Dwight D. Eisenhowser. In 1967, he took senior status, and he served in that capacity until his death in 1985.

Name of creator

Biographical history

Rick Harmon was Oral Historian and Editor of the Oregon Historical Quarterly for the Oregon Historical Society in the 1980s and 1990s.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

This oral history interview with William G. East was conducted by Rick Harmon in East's chambers in Eugene, Oregon, from November 8 to 15, 1984. In this interview, East discusses his family background and early life in Salem, Oregon, including his education and interest in journalism and sports. He then discusses attending the University of Oregon from 1927 to 1932 and studying law. He talks about the Depression hitting in the middle of his studies, his social life, and his developing political outlook. He also talks about Orlando Hollis and Wayne Morse as law professors. He then discusses practicing law in Eugene from 1932 to 1942, including law firms he worked at and cases he tried. He describes his experience in the U.S. Army during World War II, including his training, service in Germany, and his involvement in the capture of Hermann Göring. He describes his return to civilian life and law practice, as well as his position as city attorney for Eugene. He talks about his service on the Oregon Circuit Court from 1949 to 1955, including his appointment, conflict with the press, and various cases he heard. East goes on to discuss his service on the U.S. District Court of Oregon from 1955 to 1967, including his appointment. He particularly focuses on a scandal that nearly derailed his appointment and on a meeting with President Eisenhower. He also discusses cases he heard, including a negligence case involving Booth-Kelly Lumber Company that he heard twice, and a case on public defender compensation. He describes the changes to court procedures implemented by Judge Gus Solomon. He then discusses his decision to take senior judge status in 1967, as well as his activities since then, including cases on Native American rights and sovereignty. He closes the interview with a discussion of his judicial philosophy, his involvement with various civic organizations, and his hobbies and family life.

System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

Collection is open for research.

Physical access

Technical access

Conditions governing reproduction

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/

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

Related archival materials

William G. East papers, Mss 2716, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.

William G. East collection, Accession 25185, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.

Related descriptions

Notes element

General note

Preferred citation: Oral history interview with William G. East, by Rick Harmon, SR 1213, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.

General note

Forms part of the United States District Court Oral History Project.

General note

Incomplete transcript (8 pages) and summary (15 pages) are available for in-person use at the 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

Access points

Place access points

Genre access points

Accession area