Sunday, May 6, 2012

Jewish Americans in the Pacific NW

Jewish Americans in the Columbia River Basin - Historical Overview The 1,200-mile long Columbia River drains a 259,000-square-mile basin that includes territory in seven states (Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Wyoming, and Utah) and one Canadian province. The Columbia River Basin Ethnic History Archive project spotlights a variety of people who have migrated to this part of the Pacific Northwest over the past two hundred years.

Oregon Public Broadcasting: A Timeline of Jewish history in Oregon, 1850–1950 Excerpt: "In 1849, Jacob Goldsmith and Lewis May are the first Jewish settlers in Portland. (They were) Bavarian-born Jews who. . . operated a general merchandise story on Front Ave. . . The California Gold Rush spurred much of the Jewish movement from the East Coast, Midwest and California to Oregon. Jewish merchants moved west to profit from storekeeping in mining towns. When one gold camp or town dried up, Jews moved on to the next, and so made their way to Oregon. . . In the 1880s Eastern European Jews immigrate to Oregon. A rift between already-established German Jews of Portland, and more Orthodox Eastern European Jews changes the Jewish community."

Jewish Genealogical Society of Oregon: Oregon Jewish History The site provides brief history of Portland's Jewish centers and organizations as well as a bit of oral history.

Oregon Jewish Museum The Oregon Jewish Museum houses the largest collection of the history of the Jewish experience in Oregon. It includes archival documents, photographs, sound and video recordings, books, and artifacts. The collection illustrates the history of individuals, families, and organizations that encompass the Jewish community of Oregon from its earliest history in 1850 to the present. A small sampling of photos of artifacts available on the website.

HistoryLink: Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History Enter key word "Jewish" into Advanced Search.

Washington State Jewish Society's mission is to "promote interest in and knowledge of the life, history, and culture of the Jewish people both of the State of Washington and of other parts of the world." The site includes a Washington state Jewish history timeline and links to the Jewish Archives which "document the fascinating history of Jews and Jewish communities in Washington State, beginning with the first settlers in 1853. The early pioneers were German-speaking Jews from Central Europe who were followed in the 1880s by a second wave of immigrants, Ashkenazic Jews from Eastern Europe. Starting in 1902, yet a third wave of immigrants to the area, Sephardic Jews from Turkey, Greece and the Isle of Rhodes brought with them their own distinct culture and language. Since World War I Seattle has had the largest percentage of Sephardim compared to the total Jewish population of any U.S. city."

Jewish children at Sunday School, February 1898 - Image credit: Columbia River Basin Ethnic History Archive

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Slavic Community in the Pacific NW

Oregon Humanities: The history and future of Slavic refugees in Oregon Excerpt: "More than one hundred thousand people from the former Soviet Union now call the Willamette Valley home. . . About 40 percent of the more than one hundred thousand Slavic people who live in the region are from Ukraine. Others were born in Russia, Belarus, or other republics that formerly made up the Soviet Union. While the vast majority of these immigrants live in the Portland-metro area, about three thousand currently reside in Salem, with significant numbers also living in Woodburn and smaller towns such as Lebanon and Albany."

Slavic Community in Oregon: a historic overview from the 2010 report, "Communities of Color in Multnomah County: An Unsettling Profile:" The Slavic community is defined as people from the former Soviet Union, mostly who fled religious and political persecution and came to Oregon in several waves. The first is at the turn of the 20th century, when members of the Russian Orthodox faith moved to the area. Resurgence occurred at the close of the Russian Revolution in 1922. The third and most significant wave occurred as the Soviet Union began to unravel. In 1988, then President Mikhail Gorbachev allowed some religious minorities to leave the country. Numbers grew when in 1989, the USA eased immigration laws to permit Soviet immigrants. With the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Slavic community arrived in large numbers. Migration into Oregon and California was primarily evangelical groups, bringing histories of religious persecution and deep connections to fundamentalist churches. Helped with sponsorships by Christian church congregations, and recognition by the US government that their experiences were sufficient to warrant status as refugees (due to persecution for their religious beliefs), Slavic numbers grew to where they now are the largest refugee group in Oregon. The strength of the evangelical lobby in the USA has secured their ongoing status as refugees despite the end to religious persecution that coincided with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Old Believers: A documentary about the Russian Old Believer community of Marion County, Oregon The Old Believers living in and around Woodburn, Oregon are descendants of Russian Christians who chose to retain the old rituals when reforms were introduced in the Russian Orthodox Church in the 1660’s. They were excommunicated and suffered persecution from political administrators and official church leaders. Many of the dissenters fled Russia. Largely because of this history, the Oregon Old Believers have retained a strong sense of cultural and religious identity. A teacher's guide to the film can be found here.

Photo credit: Helen's blog

Women's History of the Pacific NW

Century of Action: Oregon Women Vote, 1912–2012 is a project of the Oregon Women’s History Consortium (OWHC), a new organization formed to lead the centennial celebration of woman suffrage and to promote women’s history beyond 2012.

Oregon Encyclopedia: Women

Washington Women's History Consortium The Women's History Consortium, created by state statute (RCW 27.34.360) in 2005 as a Washington State Historical Society-led initiative, is dedicated to preserving and making available resources about Washington women’s history. Located at the State Capital Museum and Outreach Center in Olympia, the Consortium promotes the preservation of materials related to women’s history and improvement of access to women’s history statewide. Many materials available online.

Oral Histories of Washington's influential men and women Since 2008, the Legacy Project has documented life stories of Washington's influential men and women. They are statewide officeholders, congressional leaders, judges and remarkable citizens.

Photo credit: Suffrage Wagon News Channel- Oregon suffragists visit New York, 1912, from the Library of Congress collection

Friday, May 4, 2012

Labor History in the Pacific NW

Pacific Northwest Labor and Civil Rights Projects Eleven projects largely focusing on Washington State that bring together nearly one hundred video oral history interviews and several thousand photographs, documents, and digitized newspaper articles. Included are films, slide shows, and lesson plans for teachers. The projects also feature dozens of historical essays about important issues, events, and people, many written by undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Washington. The projects include: The Labor Press Project, a site which brings together information about the history and ongoing influence of newspapers and periodicals published by unions, labor councils, and radical organizations in the Pacific Northwest (includes Oregon).

University of Oregon’s “The Labor Project” The Labor Project in the Department of Special Collections and University Archives at the University of Oregon acts as a portal for researchers to access the documentary history of labor in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. Collections of documents, photographs, personnel papers, and ephemera provide a window on the lives of workers as well as the politics of labor in the region.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Links to Self-Guided Walking Tours in the Pacific NW

City of Olympia Women’s History Walking Tour marks important women's history sites in Olympia, Washington.

Self-Guided Walking Tours of Seattle's Historic Districts Virtual walking tours of five Seattle neighborhoods offered by

Portland's Walk of the Heroines This innovative, educational park (and website) gives artistic recognition to women's vital contributions. Whether as teacher, scientist, business or political leader, artist, or athlete, or in the more private roles of mother, sister, friend, or volunteer, women shape our lives, our culture, and our society. The park includes an Educational Kiosk displaying heroine stories, gardens, artistic paving, sculptures, a fountain, a stage, naming walls and quotes by the women.

Japanese American Historical Plaza (Portland)Using thirteen engraved stones of basalt and granite, the Japanese American Historical Plaza in Portland tells an important story of the Japanese in Oregon.

Historic Old Town Walking Tour Map The cultural landscape of Old Town has been shaped over the past 150 years by African American, Chinese, Filipino, Greek, Japanese, Jewish, Native American, Roma and Scandinavian workers and their families. Through the collaboration of the various organizations of the Arts, Culture and History Committee of the Old Town Chinatown Neighbor- hood Association, the district’s past and present are now linked by the stories in these 20 bronze plaques. The bronze plaques embedded in the sidewalks will guide you. . . Experience the cultural diversity of Old Town through the voices of the people who lived and worked here.

Proposed AFRICAN-AMERICAN Historic District within Portland's Old Town This walk includes a permanent exterior historical exhibit installed on Central City Concern’s Golden West Hotel Building. The six display panels (and a soundtrack) tell the "social and ethnic story of the vibrant African-American community in Portland in the early 1900s and the successes and challenges of its residents."