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The Jewish Oregon Story, 1950-2010

by Ellen Eisenberg

The Jewish Oregon Story traces the history of diverse Jewish Oregonians and their communities during a period of dramatic change. Drawing on archival sources, including a collection of over 500 oral histories, the book explores how Jewish Oregonians both contributed to and were shaped by the “Oregon Story,” a political shift that fueled Oregon’s—and particularly Portland’s—emerging reputation for progressivism and sustainability. Six chapters examine a community grappling with, and increasingly embracing, change -- from the dramatic national shifts in women’s roles and inter-group relations, to local issues such as the razing of the historic South Portland Jewish neighborhood. An original community musical frames the creation of a new Portland Jewish identity, emerging out of the ashes of South Portland and tapping ethnic expression as an antidote to suburbanization and assimilation. A peek behind the scenes exposes the crucial role of women’s voluntarism, and traces the impact of women entering the workforce and winning acceptance as equals in organizational and ritual life. Chapters on involvement in liberal politics and advocacy for Israel explore communal engagement that reflected national trends, but, beginning in the 1980s, were increasingly shaped by emerging local progressivism. A final chapter charts recent shifts in Oregon Jewish geography, demographics, and organizational life, exploring the rebirth of smaller communities and the embrace of post-denominational Jewry, spirituality, and an ethos of environmentalism and inclusion. The Jewish Oregon Story will appeal to readers of American, Western, and Oregon Jewish history, particularly those interested in questions of ethnicity and identity. Drawing on extensive archival sources and recent scholarship, the book will engage both academic audiences and general readers.

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Katie Gale

A Coast Salish Woman's Life on Oyster Bay

LLyn De Danaan

A gravestone, a mention in local archives, stories still handed down around Oyster Bay: the outline of a woman begins to emerge and with her the world she inhabited, so rich in tradition, so shaken by violent change. Katie Kettle Gale was born into a Salish community in Puget Sound in the 1850s, just as settlers were migrating into what would become Washington State. With her people forced out of their accustomed hunting and fishing grounds into ill-provisioned island camps and reservations, Katie Gale sought her fortune in Oyster Bay. In that early outpost of multiculturalism—where Native Americans and immigrants from the eastern United States, Europe, and Asia vied for economic, social, political, and legal power—a woman like Gale could make her way.

As LLyn De Danaan mines the historical record, we begin to see Gale, a strong-willed Native woman who cofounded a successful oyster business, then wrested it away from her Euro-American husband, a man with whom she raised children and who ultimately made her life unbearable. Steeped in sadness—with a lost home and a broken marriage, children dying in their teens, and tuberculosis claiming her at forty-three—Katie Gale’s story is also one of remarkable pluck, a tale of hard work and ingenuity, gritty initiative and bad luck that is, ultimately, essentially American.

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Keeping Oregon Green

Livability, Stewardship, and the Challenges of Growth, 1960–1980

by Derek R. Larson

Keeping Oregon Green is a new history of the signature accomplishments of Oregon’s environmental era: the revitalization of the polluted Willamette River, the Beach Bill that preserved public access to the entire coastline, the Bottle Bill that set the national standard for reducing roadside litter, and the nation’s first comprehensive land use zoning law. To these case studies is added the largely forgotten tale of what would have been Oregon’s second National Park, intended to preserve the Oregon Dunes as one of the country’s first National Seashores.

Through the detailed study of the historical, political, and cultural contexts of these environmental conflicts, Derek Larson uncovers new dimensions in familiar stories linked to the concepts of “livability” and environmental stewardship. Connecting events in Oregon to the national environmental awakening of the 1960s and 1970s, the innovative policies that carried Oregon to a position of national leadership are shown to be products of place and culture as much as politics. While political leaders such as Tom McCall and Bob Straub played critical roles in framing new laws, the advocacy of ordinary citizens—farmers, students, ranchers, business leaders, and factory workers—drove a movement that crossed partisan, geographic, and class lines to make Oregon the nation’s environmental showcase of the 1970s.

Drawing on extensive archival research and source materials, ranging from poetry to congressional hearings, Larson’s compelling study is firmly rooted in the cultural, economic, and political history of the Pacific Northwest. Essential reading for students of environmental history and Oregon politics, Keeping Oregon Green argues that the state’s environmental legacy is not just the product of visionary leadership, but rather a complex confluence of events, trends, and personalities that could only have happened when and where it did.

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Landscapes of Conflict

The Oregon Story, 1940-2000

William G. Robbins. Foreword by William Cronon

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Landscapes of Promise

The Oregon Story, 1800-1940

William G. Robbins. Foreword by William Cronon

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Light on the Devils

Coming of Age on the Klamath

When Louise Wagenknecht’s family arrived in the remote logging town of Happy Camp in 1962, a boundless optimism reigned. Whites and Indians worked together in the woods and the lumber mills of northern California’s Klamath country. Logging and lumber mills, it seemed, would hold communities together forever.

But that booming prosperity would come to an end. Looking back on her teenage years spent along the Klamath River, Louise Wagenknecht recounts a vanishing way of life. She explores the dynamics of family relationships and the contradictions of being female in a western logging town in the 1960s. And she paints an evocative portrait of the landscape and her relationship with it.

Light on the Devils is a readable and elegant memoir of place. It will appeal to general readers interested in the Pacific Northwest, personal memoir, history, and natural history.

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Making Salmon

An Environmental History of the Northwest Fisheries Crisis

Joseph E Taylor III. Foreword by William Cronon

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Mexicanos in Oregon

Their Stories, Their Lives

Erlinda V. Gonzales-Berry and Marcela Mendoza

Mexicanos in Oregon: Their Stories, Their Lives sheds new light on why migrants come to Oregon, what their experiences are when they settle here, and how they adapt to life in the United States.

Although Oregon has had a settled Mexican-origin population since the mid-nineteenth century, the number of Latinos residing in Oregon has grown dramatically over the last two decades, leading to increased diversity across the state, particularly visible in the public school system and in agricultural and service occupations.

Mexicanos in Oregon explores this history of migration and settlement of mexicanos, highlighting their sustained practices of community building, their struggles for integration, and their contributions to the economic and cultural life of the state. Using archival records, primary and secondary sources, demographic statistics, and personal testimonies, and drawing from multiple disciplines, Gonzales-Berry and Mendoza create a picture of the economic, political, social, and cultural conditions that have shaped the lives of mexicanos. The blend of scholarly research and individual stories reflects the very human dimension and complex forces that make up the mexicano experience in Oregon.

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Multnomah

The Tumultuous Story of Oregon's Most Populous County

Covering people and events from 1854 to the present day, this definitive history of Multnomah County provides compelling details about public works triumphs and political scandals.

Founded as a convenience so residents of the fast-growing city of Portland wouldn’t have to ride by horseback to Hillsboro, Oregon’s tiniest county geographically soon grew to be the state’s most populous.  Through nearly sixteen decades, Multnomah County’s history seldom has been calm and peaceful.  From hangings that turned into grim public spectacles in the nineteenth century to a glaring failure to deal with urban growth in the middle of the twentieth, the county survived several attempts to revamp its structure or merge with Portland’s better-known municipal government.

Highlighted episodes include the construction of the iconic Columbia River Highway between 1914 and 1918, the tragic flooding of Vanport City in 1948, the employee strike of 1980, the library scandal of 1989-1990, and the same-sex marriage license debacle of 2004.

Historian Jewel Lansing and journalist Fred Leeson make effective use of archival sources, oral histories, newspaper articles, and personal interviews to create the definitive reference on Multnomah County history, politics, and policy. History buffs and informed Portland citizens will be particularly engaged by the regional trivia and narrative details.

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