Name and location of repository
Level of description
Oral history interview with John F. Kilkenny
- 1984-06-12 - 1984-10-03 (Creation)
.1 cubic feet 17 audiocassettes (13 hr., 16 min., 48 sec.)
Name of creator
John Francis Kilkenny was born in Heppner, Oregon, in 1901. He grew up on a farm and was sent to Portland, Oregon, to attend Columbia Preparatory. He attended Notre Dame Law School, earning his bachelor of law degree in 1925. He then returned to Oregon, where he practiced law in Pendleton. In 1934, he and Virginia Brannock were married; they later had two children. He served as city attorney for Pendleton from 1930 to 1952. In 1959, he was appointed to the U.S. District Court of Oregon by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. In 1969, he was appointed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Portland by President Richard Nixon. In 1971, he took senior judge status. He died in 1995.
Content and structure elements
Scope and content
This oral history interview with John F. Kilkenny was conducted by Rick Harmon in Portland, Oregon, from June 12 to October 3, 1984. The original audio of the recording is incomplete due to irretrievable damage to Tape 14, Side 2. Tape 17 is a re-enactment of that audio. The re-enactment was created by Rick Harmon and Terence O'Donnell after the damage to the original tape was discovered. It was based upon a transcript created before the damage occurred, which no longer exists. The accuracy of the re-enactment cannot be verified.
In this interview, Kilkenny discusses his family background and early life on a sheep farm in Heppner, Oregon, and his education at Columbia Preparatory, a boarding school in Portland. He also briefly discusses his memories of World War I. He then talks about attending Notre Dame University in Indiana, including playing football under Knute Rockne; his social life; and preparing for the Oregon Bar by taking prep courses at Northwestern College of Law. He discusses his early law career in Pendleton and notable cases he worked on, including bankruptcy and Prohibition cases; his political views and Republican affiliation; and the effects of the Depression. He talks about serving as city attorney for Pendleton from 1930 to 1952. He talks briefly about how World War II affected his law practice, in the number and type of cases the firm handled. Also discussed is his involvement with the Oregon State Bar.
Kilkenny discusses his 1959 appointment to the U.S. District Court of Oregon. He briefly describes judges he worked with, including Hall Lusk and Gus Solomon. He discusses cases involving admiralty law, the first amendment, labor unions, and criminal law. He then discusses his 1969 appointment to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. He discusses cases involving the draft, procedures of the court, and efforts to split the Ninth Circuit. He then discusses how his sentencing style has changed over time, new precedents set by recent courts, and his thoughts on the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal. He discusses his involvement in the preservation of the Pioneer Courthouse in Portland. He closes the interview by talking about his recent activities and family life.
System of arrangement
Conditions of access and use elements
Conditions governing access
Collection is open for research.
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
Scripts of the material
Language and script notes
Acquisition and appraisal elements
Immediate source of acquisition
Gift of the U.S. District Court of Oregon Historical Society (Lib. Acc. 25578).
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information
Related materials elements
Existence and location of originals
Existence and location of copies
Related archival materials
Preferred citation: Oral history interview with John F. Kilkenny, by Rick Harmon, SR 1218, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.
Forms part of the United States District Court Oral History Project.
Typescript index (41 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.