Name and location of repository
Level of description
Oral history interview with Sidney Lezak
- 1988-08-16 - 1990-06-06 (Creation)
.1 cubic feet; 8 audiocassettes (6 hr. 55 min. 25 sec.) + transcript (116 pages)
Name of creator
Sidney I. Lezak was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1924. He attended Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, for one semester. He then studied at the University of Chicago. In 1942, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, and he served in Europe during World War II. After his discharge in 1945, he returned to the University of Chicago, earning a bachelor of philosophy degree in 1946 and a law degree in 1949. That same year, he and Muriel Deutsch were married; they later had three children. The couple moved to Oregon the night of their wedding. He practiced law in Portland, Oregon, and also served as legal counsel for the Democratic Party of Oregon. He was appointed U.S. attorney for Oregon by President John F. Kennedy in 1961. He resigned in 1982 and worked as a mediator until his death in 2006.
Content and structure elements
Scope and content
This oral history interview with Sidney Lezak was conducted by Jack G. Collins from August 16, 1988, to June 6, 1990. In this interview, Lezak discusses his family background and early life in Chicago, Illinois. He speaks briefly about beginning his college studies before enlisting in the U.S. Air Force in 1942. He describes flying missions in Europe during World War II. He then briefly talks about completing his studies at the University of Chicago; his marriage to Muriel Deutsch; and relocating to Oregon.
Lezak discusses practicing law in Portland, Oregon. He talks about some of the cases he worked on, particularly regarding labor law and civil rights. He also talks about judges he argued before, including Gus Solomon. He discusses his involvement with the Democratic Party of Oregon, including serving as legal counsel. He then talks about his appointment as U.S. attorney for Oregon and his service in that role from 1961 to 1982. He discusses his work toward making the U.S. attorney's office non-partisan; working with the FBI and local law enforcement; and some of the cases he prosecuted, including mail fraud. He talks about civil unrest during the Vietnam War, and about prosecuting protesters and conscientious objectors. He talks about judges on the U.S. District Court that he argued before, including William East, Gus Solomon, and John Kilkenny. He also speaks about his staff and law clerks, particularly Kristen Olson, who later became U.S. attorney. He discusses the American Indian Movement in Oregon, including relations with the Warm Springs tribe. Lezak discusses his resignation in 1982 in response to the policies of the Reagan administration. He closes the interview by talking about his activities since leaving office, including his career as a mediator.
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
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 Sidney Lezak, by Jack G. Collins, SR 1220, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.
Forms part of the United States District Court Oral History Project.
Handwritten index (17 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.
Subject access points
Place access points
Name access points
- Democratic Party (Or.) (Subject)
- United States. Attorney (Oregon) (Subject)
- Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon (Subject)