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Oral history interview with Alice Tomkins Fee
- 1985-02-08 - 1995-03-08 (Creation)
.1 cubic feet 9 audiocassettes (8 hr., 24 min., 52 sec.)
Name of creator
Alice Emma Tomkins Fee was born in Cascade Locks, Oregon, in 1897, and grew up in Portland until the age of 10, when her family returned to Cascade Locks. With few career paths open to women, she chose to attend the Oregon Normal School in Monmouth with the intention of becoming a teacher. She transferred to the University of Oregon and studied music, earning her bachelor's degree in 1924. She was principal at a school in Malin, Oregon; a third-grade teacher in Hood River, Oregon; and principal in Pine Grove, Oregon. She got a job as a typist and stenographer in the clerk's office for the U.S. District Court of Oregon in 1927, and in 1931 she became deputy clerk of the court. In 1939, she became secretary for Judge James Alger Fee. They were married in 1943 and they had no children. They moved to San Francisco, California, when Judge Fee was appointed to the Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Fee died in 1959. Alice Tomkins Fee returned to Portland around 1978. She died in 1995.
Name of creator
Richard Charles Harmon was born in Jackson, Michigan, in 1952. When he was six years old, his family moved to the West Coast. In 1975, he earned a bachelor's degree in history from the University of California, San Diego. He attended Columbia University in New York, then transferred back to UCSD. A few years later, he left graduate school and began working in publishing in Southern California. In the early 1980s, he began working in the UCLA oral history program. In 1984, he became an oral historian at the Oregon Historical Society in Portland, and the next year, he also became the editor of Oregon Historical Quarterly, the historical society's journal. For a year, he held both positions, and he served as editor of OHQ until 1999.
Harmon was married twice. He and Candice Gaucher married in 1975, then divorced in 1985. He remarried, to Jane Malarkey, in 1990. Harmon died in 2004.
Sources: Information provided by Harmon in an oral history interview, SR 2531, held by the Oregon Historical Society Research Library; vital records on Ancestry.com.
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Scope and content
This oral history interview with Alice Tomkins Fee was conducted by Rick Harmon in Portland, Oregon, from February 8 to March 8, 1985. In this interview, Fee discusses her family background and early life in Portland and Cascade Locks, Oregon, including her education, her memories of World War I, and the lack of career options available to women. She discusses attending the Oregon Normal School in Monmouth, including her teachers and social life, and studying music at the University of Oregon. She then talks about her career as a teacher and principal at schools in Malin, Pine Grove, and Hood River, Oregon. She also discusses the numerous health issues she's had over the years. She speaks about working as a typist in the clerk's office for the U.S. District Court of Oregon, then as a stenographer for naturalization and bankruptcy cases, and then as a law clerk. She discusses the judges she worked with, the Pioneer Courthouse, and the procedures of the court. She speaks at length about her husband, Judge James Alger Fee, including his family background, early life, and judicial career, as well as cases he presided over and her work as his secretary. She discusses the circumstances surrounding Judge Fee's heart attack in 1959 and his funeral at Arlington National Cemetery. She closes the interview by talking about her activities since her husband's death, including traveling, cooking and reading.
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Conditions governing access
Joint copyright for this interview is held by the Oregon Historical Society, the U.S. District Court of Oregon, and the estate of Alice Tomkins Fee. 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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Preferred citation: Oral history interview with Alice Tomkins Fee, by Rick Harmon, SR 1214, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.
Forms part of the United States District Court Oral History Project.
Publication note: Transcript published in Oregon Historical Quarterly, Fall 1987, pages 285-307.
Incomplete transcript (181 pages) and handwritten index (15 pages) are 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.