Interview with Aaron Brown

Interview with Aaron Brown [Sound Recording 01] Interview with Aaron Brown [Sound Recording 02]

Identity elements

Reference code

SR 24523-2

Name and location of repository

Level of description



Interview with Aaron Brown


  • 1975 (Creation)


.1 cubic feet; 1 audiocassette (35 min., 55 sec.)

Name of creator


Biographical history

Aaron Brown, Jr. was born in Louisiana in 1926 and grew up in Houston, Texas. He served in the U.S. Army from 1944 to 1947. He attended Southern University, then, after one year, transferred to Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, where he earned a pre-med degree in 1951. After graduating, he worked as a teacher. He decided that a career as an educator wasn't for him and he returned to Texas, where he worked on the railroads while attending the University of Texas part time. He attended Northwestern College of Law in Portland, Oregon, and earned his law degree in 1959. That same year, he became the first black member of the Oregon State Bar. He and Alvencie Alford married and they later had three children. Brown became the first black judge in the state of Oregon in 1969, when he was appointed by Mayor Terry Schrunk to pro tem judge on the Portland Municipal Court. Governor Tom McCall appointed him to the Multnomah County District Court in 1971. He retired in 1995 and died in 2016.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

This interview with Aaron Brown was conducted by an unidentified woman around 1975 for Grassroot News Northwest. In the interview, Brown discusses his early college education and career as a teacher and railroad worker. He then discusses coming to Portland, Oregon, and attending Northwestern College of Law while working as a caseworker for the Oregon Welfare Department. He talks about being appointed as a judge to the Portland Municipal Court in 1969 and to the U.S. District Court of Oregon in 1971, as well as his re-election campaign in 1972. Brown talks about his experience as a black man in the legal profession, including his relationship with the press. He goes on to speak about the black experience in America and how it related to his decision to become a lawyer. He describes his belief in the judicial system, his reasoning behind some his judgements, and his thoughts on why black people are a disproportionate part of the number of people in prison. He closes the interview by discussing his views on drug use among young black people of the 1970s.

System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

Collection is open for research.

Physical access

Technical access

Conditions governing reproduction

In Copyright – Rights-holder(s) unlocatable or unidentifiable:

Languages of the material

  • English

Scripts of the material

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Finding aids

Acquisition and appraisal elements

Custodial history

Immediate source of acquisition

Gift of Ted Hallock, July 2011 (Lib. Acc. 24523).

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information


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Related descriptions

Notes element

General note

Preferred citation: Interview with Aaron Brown, SR 24523-2, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.

General note

This recording was previously identified as SR 1806.

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

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