Oral history interview with Vera Katz

Oral history interview with Vera Katz [Transcript] Oral history interview with Vera Katz [Sound Recording 01] Oral history interview with Vera Katz [Sound Recording 02] Oral history interview with Vera Katz [Sound Recording 03] Oral history interview with Vera Katz [Sound Recording 04] Oral history interview with Vera Katz [Sound Recording 05]

Identity elements

Reference code

SR 9044

Name and location of repository

Level of description



Oral history interview with Vera Katz


  • 1982-04-28 - 1982-05-19 (Creation)


.01 cubic feet; 3 audiocassettes (2 hr., 15 min., 36 sec.) + transcript (57 pages)

Name of creator


Biographical history

Vera Katz, nee Vera Pistrak, was born in Düsseldorf, Germany, in 1933. Her family moved to France during the lead-up to World War II. In 1940, they immigrated to the United States, where she grew up in New York. She attended Brooklyn College, where she earned a bachelor's degree in sociology in 1955, and a master's degree in 1957. In 1954, she and Mel Katz were married; they later had one child. In 1964, the family moved to Portland, Oregon, where Katz soon embarked upon a political career. She served in the Oregon House of Representatives, representing Portland and Multnomah County, from 1973 to 1990, and she became the first woman speaker of the house in 1985. She then served as Portland mayor from 1993 to 2005. She died in 2017.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

This oral history interview with Vera Katz was conducted by Linda S. Dodds at Katz's home in Portland, Oregon, from April 28 to May 19, 1982. At the time of the interview, Dodds' name was Linda S. Brody. The interview was conducted in two sessions.

In the first interview session, conducted on April 28, 1982, Katz discusses her family's immigration to the United States from Nazi Germany in 1940. She talks about her early life in New York City, including her education and learning English. She then discusses her experience studying sociology and psychology at Brooklyn College; talks about her interest in modern dance and studying under Martha Graham; and speaks about her marriage to Mel Katz. She also briefly talks about working in marketing while in New York. She then discusses relocating to Portland, Oregon, in 1964, in order to support Mel Katz's career, and describes her early impressions of Portland. She talks about the beginnings of her political career working for Robert F. Kennedy's 1968 presidential campaign. She discusses lobbying the Legislature with the Kennedy Action Corps and how that led to her ultimately running to represent Multnomah County in the Oregon Legislature in 1972. She talks about her campaign, legislation she worked on, and her involvement with the Women's Caucus. She also talks about balancing her home life in Portland with her role as a legislator in Salem.

In the second interview session, conducted on May 19, 1982, Katz continues discussing representing Multnomah County in the Oregon Legislature from 1973 to the time of the interview in 1982. She continues talking about legislation she worked on, and discusses working with lobbyists and her fellow legislators. She talks about representing and connecting with her constituency, her role in Democratic party leadership in the Legislature, and her committee assignments. She discusses her experience as a woman legislator; describes her political philosophy; and speaks about serving on the Ways and Means committee. She closes the interview by discussing her plans for the future.

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Conditions governing access

Copyright for this interview is held by the Oregon Historical Society. Use is allowed according to the following statement: Creative Commons - BY-NC-SA, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/

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Languages of the material

  • English

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Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information


Related materials elements

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Related archival materials

Additional audio recordings with Vera Katz, SR 669 and SR 2534, are held at the Oregon Historical Society Research Library.

Related descriptions

Notes element

General note

Preferred citation: Oral history interview with Vera Katz, by Linda S. Dodds, SR 9044, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.

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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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