What's Happening in Special Collections and University Archives

Conversations with Oregon’s First Woman Governor: Video from the Barbara Roberts Collection

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Roberts for Governor
Campaigning in 1990 with her husband, Oregon Senator Frank Roberts.

Two and a half decades before Hillary Clinton won the most-watched Presidential debate in United States history, Barbara Roberts led 1990’s televised debates for Oregon Governor with her ethic of “hard work and no double talk.” Today you can get to know Oregon’s first woman governor, the causes she fought for, and the political and personal challenges she faced through some of her many dynamic public appearances in the Barbara Roberts Video Gallery.

Press Conference Still Image
Roberts speaking to the press in Salem in 1991.

Centered on her term as governor in the early 1990s, the gallery contains streaming video of original recordings from 1989-2007. It includes debates from Roberts’ candidacy, official state speeches such as her inaugural address and the State of the State, press conferences, keynote speeches to civic and political organizations, and, most extraordinarily, live television appearances in which she spoke directly with constituents and listened to their ideas and concerns. In her informative, engaging dialogues and speeches, Roberts stands out among politicians as a leader with a strong sense of personal responsibility and trust in the citizens she served.

Roberts got involved in politics in the early 1970s as an activist parent, lobbying for her autistic son’s right to public education. The success of her effort to change state law convinced her that good leadership relies on citizen participation and that every person has the power to make a difference. Prior to her candidacy for governor, she served as a county commissioner, Oregon State Representative, and was elected to two terms as Oregon Secretary of State.

As governor, she advocated for human rights and civil rights, environmental management, and redeveloping Oregon’s economy as the state’s population grew and its major industry, lumber, was in transition. She also stood for equal marriage and family rights for gays and lesbians and for women’s access to birth control and abortion. During and after her term as governor, she fought restrictive legislation on these issues and worked with community advocates to secure and protect these rights. She spoke openly with all Oregonians about her commitment to these and other contested issues. “You may not agree with her stand,” a presentation on her political career summarized, “but you will have no doubt what that stand is.”

Roberts hosting "Conversation with Oregon"
Roberts presenting on the state budget in “A Conversation with Oregon” in November 1991.
Roberts on "Ask the Governor" program
Roberts invited state employees to “Ask the Governor” on live television in March 1991.

Throughout an often painful process of restructuring and straitening the state budget, Roberts sought to communicate her plans and goals to all Oregonians and to include citizens’ contributions to the discussion. In an extraordinary effort to inform the public about the ways in which their tax dollars were spent and to hear which government services were most valued by Oregonians, she appeared on a live television call-in program, “A Conversation with Oregon,” to have direct, unscripted dialogue with voters. She also hosted similar teleconferences with state employees whose jobs were affected by profound budget cuts demanded by revenue shortfalls.

Roberts chose not to run for a second term in 1994, and spoke honestly in televised interviews about balancing her personal and political responsibilities. She continues to be an active public speaker, recognizing the importance of mutual communication, respect, and support between community members, political organizations, and government.

The videos in this collection are part of the Barbara Roberts Papers held by PSU Library Special Collections. While Roberts’ official papers reside with the State of Oregon Archives, her collection at Portland State illuminates her personal approach to the landmark issues and events of her political life, and this selection of her public speeches provides a visual introduction to the character and accomplishments of Oregon’s 34th governor.

Viking Yearbooks Digital Collection and Library Exhibit

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Portland State University, founded as Vanport College in 1946, celebrates its 70th anniversary in 2016. This fall, University Archives presents the ultimate Portland State flashback: the complete collection of Viking yearbooks, from 1946 until 1995, can now be read online, searched, and downloaded from the PSU Library! Leaf through the digital yearbooks online, and visit PSU Archives’ Viking collection exhibit in the first floor elevator lobby of the Library!

Portland State students produced the Viking each year as an annual record of campus life, commemorating the highlights of each year in photographs, essays, articles, drawings, and poetry. Today the yearbooks are an invaluable and fun record of daily life at PSU, including academics, sports, politics, recreation, fashion, food, living on campus, and popular culture.

Cover of the first Viking, 1946-47. Cover of the Viking, 1952-53. Cover of 1955 Viking. Cover of 1965 Viking. Cover of the 1969 Viking.Cover of the 1990 Viking.

The publication began as a traditional school yearbook, with photographs of student groups, college-sponsored events, and portraits of the graduating class. In the 1950s and early 60s, Portland State students appeared in the Viking attending semi-formal dances and honoring their Homecoming royalty.

Dance photos from the 1958 Viking. Football rally in 1963 Viking.

The yearbook’s format broke from collegiate tradition in the 1960s as PSU’s campus and culture diversified and expanded. The Viking‘s images and features show the campus as a busy and growing place during the late 1960s and early 1970s, a site of dialogue, performance, protest, and contemplation. The yearbook was a forum for student writing, occasionally with critical views, and always reflected the college’s deepening connection to the city.

Image from 1968 Viking.Image from 1969 VikingImage from 1970 Viking


Viking 1973 CoverCover of the Viking 1974Viking 1975 Cover

In the mid-seventies, student photographers and writers represented “a year in the life” at Portland State through evocative photo essays and creative narration. The Portland State Soap Opera, for example, does not commemorate which student groups were active during 1975, but it does give a sense of what classes and social life at PSU were like for some students.

Image from the 1973 Viking.


Current students may find by looking at PSU history in the Viking that while some things have changed a great deal on the Portland State campus, some things–building construction, late nights in the Library, full classes, bicycling, cafeteria coffee from the Smith Memorial Student Union–remain the same!

Image from Viking 1992


The Viking suspended publication between 1978 and 1989, but resumed during the 1989-90 academic year and continued until 1995, concluding with Portland State’s 50th anniversary. During the 90s, PSU welcomed a new president and a new focus on undergraduate education that included the founding of our University Studies program. Like the earlier annuals from the 1960s, the 1990s annuals feature student groups, academic programs, campus resources, and events, with flashbacks to 1990s popular culture to set the scene.

Visit the Viking exhibit in the PSU Library first-floor elevator lobby this fall, read and download the yearbooks online, and see more about the digital yearbook collection in the PSU Magazine!

Oregon Archives Crawl

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The archivists of Portland gather once again to highlight the many fascinating archives and heritage sites in our area as part of the Oregon Archives Crawl. Meet at one of three area locations and “crawl” to each location to learn about our region’s rich collections.

More than 28 local institutions are participating in the 2016 Oregon Archives Crawl, including PSU Library Special Collections and University Archives.

Join us by starting at any of the following locations:

  • City of Portland Archives & Records Center
  • Oregon Historical Society
  • Multnomah County Library US Bank Room

This fun and free event takes place on Saturday, October 8th, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., which gives you enough time to visit each host organization.


More information:
Special Collections and University Archives
Portland-Area Archives Oregon Archives Crawl

Oregon Cultural Trust Grant Awarded to Special Collections: Preserving Historic Newspapers of Oregon’s African American Community

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The PSU Library is pleased to announce it has received a $5000 grant from the Oregon Cultural Trust to preserve and make accessible its historical collection of local Black-owned and published newspapers. The newspapers were donated to Portland State in 2012 by Charlotte Rutherford as part of the Verdell Burdine and Otto G. Rutherford Family Collection. The collection documents over one hundred years of Black community history in Oregon and includes photographs, scrapbooks, organizational records, personal papers, and publications. Its newspapers, dating from the 1910s through the 1980s, are a unique window to the national, regional, political and cultural context of their time. With photos and announcements of local events and ads from businesses, they also capture the vitality of the community over time. While in high demand by researchers, educators and students, regular use puts the original newspapers, many the only known print copies, at great risk. This grant will support the digitization of the collection to preserve it and make it available online. It will also fund the printing of full-size color facsimiles that can be safely shared at community events and in classrooms. The project will be overseen by the Library’s Head of Special Collections.

More Information:

PSU Library Special Collections & University Archives
African American History in Oregon: the Rutherford Family Collection

Spring 2016 Exhibit: The Personal Is Political

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Kafoury Exhibit Poster
Photograph of Gretchen Kafoury by Israel Bayer, Street Roots

PSU Library Special Collections’ spring exhibit features Portland politician and activist Gretchen Kafoury (1942-2015). Through a wide range of materials curated from Kafoury’s papers, the exhibit connects the passion she brought to the causes she fought for to each role she played in Oregon politics, whether organizing local actions or holding elected office.

Committee to Defend the Right to Protest letter 1975Political Pin CollectionHighlights include Kafoury’s activism in the women’s rights movement in Portland and in state government; her efforts locally as County and City Commissioner to establish and support social programs for those in need, particularly women and the homeless; and the part she played in legislating equal rights in Oregon. The exhibit offers an inside look into the workings of both official and unofficial politics through Kafoury’s unflagging dedication, principles, and humor.

Outtake of Multnomah County Board of CommissionersCorinne Rupp, a PSU Honors College student, curated the exhibit as part of her Honors thesis project, which also includes processing part of the Gretchen Kafoury Papers collection to make it available to researchers. PSU Library Special Collections is proud to present Corinne’s work in honor of Gretchen Kafoury’s life and achievements, and as a collaboration of local leadership, student research, and the Library’s unique collections.

The exhibit will be on view in the Library first floor elevator lobby throughout Spring 2016. For more information about the exhibit and the Gretchen Kafoury Papers at PSU Library Special Collections, please contact specialcollections@pdx.edu.

In Honor of Otto and Verdell Rutherford: Congressional Internship Available This Summer

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We are excited to announce the Otto and Verdell Rutherford Congressional Internship, an undergraduate internship opportunity to work with Senator Jeff Merkley and his staff in Washington, DC this summer!

From the Senator’s press release:

“Senator Merkley is offering a $5,000 stipend for a summer internship position, based in his Washington, DC office. The Otto and Verdell Rutherford Summer Congressional Internship provides an opportunity to an undergraduate student from Oregon who seeks to experience public policy-making up close and to further the causes of economic and social justice.

“The ideal candidate is inquisitive, adaptable, rooted in community service, and possesses a keen interest in advancing social and economic justice issues.”

Verdell and Otto Rutherford

This internship is named in honor of Otto and Verdell Rutherford, prominent Portland civil rights leaders whose efforts were key to the success of the passage of Oregon’s Public Accommodations Act in 1953. The Rutherfords held leadership positions in the Portland NAACP and worked with numerous community organizations throughout their lives. Portland State University Library Special Collections is proud to make the Rutherford Family Collection, a rich resource documenting the personal, political, and community life of the Rutherfords and African Americans in Portland during the twentieth century, available to the public.

Applications are being accepted immediately! For more information and how to apply:
The Otto and Verdell Rutherford Congressional Internship

Women in Library History: Jean Black, Portland State University’s First Librarian

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Dr. Jean P. Black in 1953.
Dr. Jean P. Black in 1953.

Dr. Jean P. Black (1903-1992), Portland State University’s first librarian, had already led a national and international academic career before she arrived in Portland in 1946. Born in Duluth, Minnesota, she spent most of her childhood in Europe until she was compelled to return to the United States during World War I. By 1932, she had earned four degrees from three colleges, including a Ph.D. in History from the University of Michigan and a B.S. in Library Science from the University of Washington. She studied in Rome, Italy, for her doctorate and worked as a research librarian for numerous American institutions on her return to the U.S., including Stanford’s Hoover Library and the Iowa Historical Society.

Her desire to return to the West inspired her to contact William Carlson, the director of libraries for the Oregon State System of Higher Education, requesting consideration for placement in any library in the system that might have an appropriate vacancy. Carlson correctly perceived that Black was capable of being an “independent operator” and recommended her to Vanport Extension Center director Stephen Epler, who hired her to establish and direct the library for the brand-new college, which opened in September 1946.

Library Studying 1947
Students in the Vanport Extension Center Library in 1947.

The conditions at VEC quickly proved Dr. Black’s mettle. The college, founded on the site of a federal housing project adjacent to the Columbia River Slough, cobbled its campus together from buildings left after Vanport’s community of wartime workers began to disperse. The Library had its own building—part of a vacated shopping center, which was considered one of the new college’s most pleasant indoor spaces—but had “not a single volume to its name ten days before 1,300 students began their work” on the opening day of fall term. “Almost immediately,” wrote PSU Professor of History Gordon Dodds, Dr. Black “assembled a small reference collection in a twelve-by-fifteen-foot office she shared with the director of student activities; this office served until a more adequate library was opened at the end of the fall term. By the date of the flood that ended Vanport [in May 1948], she had amassed a collection of 3,461 books and 151 periodicals in a thirty-six-hundred-square-foot room.”

Aware that the incoming student body was made up almost entirely of young men returning from military service who had little experience with scholarly reading and research, Dr. Black made it a priority to teach students how to use library collections while responding to their needs to develop Vanport’s library holdings. All this she accomplished virtually single-handedly and as one of the few women on the faculty.

She anticipated that Vanport College and its library would have a brief existence, ending in a few years after its first students took their credits to four-year colleges or graduated into their postwar careers. The city of Vanport itself was planned to be temporary, although it continued to provide much-needed housing. But the Columbia River flood of May 1948 brought the “U on the Slough” and the the rest of Vanport to an early end. All that was left of the library Dr. Black had started from scratch were the books that were checked out.

Dr. Black in the library in "Old Main" (Lincoln Hall), 1951.
Dr. Black in the library in “Old Main” (Lincoln Hall), 1951.

Undaunted, she began again in two more temporary locations before the college, now called Portland State, settled permanently in downtown Portland in 1952. Dr. Black was one of only four professional librarians on staff when the college achieved degree-granting status in 1955. Professor Dodds summed up some of the challenges she faced throughout her career at Portland State: “On the eve of four-year status, librarian Jean Black pointed out three great problems that harassed library patrons: there were too few trained librarians; there was inadequate storage for periodicals and inadequate funds to bind them; and there was crowding in the reading room, where students maneuvered for passage between shelves and tables (‘a heterogeneous lot, battle-scarred and ugly’). Black obtained no secretarial help until fall 1954, but received support in the form of the first library faculty committee, which relieved her of the burden of selecting all the books herself.” Dr. Black also oversaw the collection’s reclassification from the Dewey system to the Library of Congress in 1958.

The new lobby of the Portland State College Library in 1960.
The new lobby of the Portland State College Library in 1960.

By 1960, Portland State College opened its first “modern” library building specifically designed for the purpose. Rising enrollment and expanding academic programs set a fast pace for  librarians and library staff, as Dr. Black observed in the early 1960s: “You have to catch on quickly and be ready to take on something new at a moment’s notice to keep pace here.” The busy Library quickly outgrew its container, which also shared walls with the noisy and bustling College Center.

In 1967, Dr. Black participated in the design and groundbreaking for the first phase of Portland State’s current library building, which was still undersized for its staff and collections when it opened in 1968—the Library’s Technical Services, Audio-Visual, and Reserves departments moved gradually over the years after Dr. Black’s retirement in 1969. Her successor as head of the Library recalled, “It was not easy, following Jean Black. She was a legend already. With good reason…she created a wonderful library out of nothing against all odds.”

At her retirement in 1969.
Dr. Black celebrating her retirement in 1969.

Dr. Black is best remembered for her dogged success in creating and maintaining an academic library through repeated relocation and budget, space, and staffing constraints, but equally important is her legacy of support for the status of librarians as faculty. In a 1961 memorandum, she urged Portland State’s subject librarians to keep records of “specific instances of what constitutes teaching in the Library,” to prove that librarians gave necessary instructional support to students beyond what departmental faculty could provide. “We know that what we do is just as important to student learning as their end, for if the student stopped with lectures, laboratory and text book he’d have a most meagre education, while with a good library and librarians he could give himself a very sound education if he had the gumption to do it.”

March is Women’s History Month! Women of Library History 2016 is a project of the American Library Association Feminist Task Force honoring women in librarianship. Portland State University Archives is proud to take part! Follow Women of Library History throughout March for more stories of women’s contributions to their communities through libraries.


Black, Jean Phyllis. Memorandum to Library Faculty, November 2, 1961. Library History Collection, Portland State University Library Special Collections and University Archives, Portland, Oregon.

Black, Jean Phyllis. Interview with Karen Wingo, May 7, 1980, transcript. Library History Collection, Portland State University Library Special Collections and University Archives, Portland, Oregon.

Black, Jean Phyllis. “Vanport Starts Them to College.” Library Journal, December 1, 1947.

Dodds, Gordon B. The College that Would Not Die: The First Fifty Years of Portland State University, 1946-1996. Portland: Oregon Historical Society Press, 2000.

Portland State University Library. Portland State University Archives Digital Gallery. http://archives.pdx.edu/digitalgallery

Rodgers, Frank. Interview with Sharon Elteto and Kristen Kern, [2006?], transcript. Library History Collection, Portland State University Library Special Collections and University Archives, Portland, Oregon.

University of Michigan. “News from the Classes.” The Michigan Alumnus 45 (1939). https://books.google.com/books?id=ACNYAAAAMAAJ Accessed February 2016.

Library Participates in SEI Black History Month Celebration

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PSU Library Special Collections is pleased to participate in the Black History Month celebration at the Center for Self Enhancement in North Portland, run by Self Enhancement, Inc (SEI). On display are exhibits from PSU Library, the Oregon Black Pioneers, and the World Arts Foundation.

SEIexhibit2PSU Library Special Collections has archival collections, digital exhibits, oral histories, and online resources dedicated to African American history in Oregon and nationwide. Our contributions to the exhibit include materials from the Verdell Burdine and Otto G. Rutherford Family Collection as well as the Senator Avel L. Gordly Papers.

According to SEI, “SEI Academy students are studying the exhibits and incorporating their research into their creative writing classes.”

SEI is a nonprofit organization supporting urban youth in Portland. They run a middle school in North Portland and serve at-risk students from throughout North and Northeast Portland.

Learn more about the Black History Month exhibit at SEI.

Learn more about African American history collections in PSU Library Special Collections.

Winter 2016 Exhibit Highlights 40th Anniversary of Women’s Studies at PSU

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Image from 1976 Women's Studies Course Catalog
Image from cover of PSU Women’s Studies Course Catalog, 1976

PSU Library Special Collections and University Archives is honored to present its Winter 2016 exhibit, Ever Forward: Forty Years of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Portland State University. The history of WGSS at PSU is a story of the energy and passion of generations of students and faculty dedicated to the foundation, survival, and growth of feminist and queer scholarship at Portland State. The exhibit celebrates that history through selections from University Archives’ Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Collection.

Women’s Studies at Portland State originated with the work of students, faculty, and community volunteers. The first feminist-oriented group at PSU, “University Women,” organized in late 1969 to work toward women-centered goals such as free childcare on campus, and by the following year, University Women had formed the Women’s Union (today’s Women’s Resource Center) and were addressing wider issues concerning the status of women. As the Women’s Union evolved to become a community-wide advocacy and resource center, women working with the center and students and faculty that had formed an ad hoc committee known as the Women’s Studies Institute collaborated to create the Women’s Studies Union (WSU) to examine, envision, and enact equitable and inclusive instruction and hiring and to bring feminist academics to Portland State. The WSU founded the office that became the Women’s Studies Department.

Students meeting in the Women's Union in Smith Center, 1972.During the 1971-72 academic year, over four hundred students enrolled in courses offered through the WSU, which were taught by faculty across academic departments. In April 1973, the Women’s Union hosted a public Hearing on Sexism to call attention to inequity and discrimination in hiring and in the curriculum, and to build a case for an academic program in Women’s Studies. As examples of testimony demonstrate, women from all areas of the campus community put their personal experiences on the record, while academics and students worked together on a program proposal that showed how a university education and administration which perpetuated gender inequality failed to meet the needs of both the institution and society. Women’s Studies at PSU was approved by the Oregon State Board of Higher Education as a certificate program in 1976.

Book sale group shotThe program and its allies stood up to the slow process of accreditation and to profound funding challenges during its first two decades. In the early 1980s, when the certificate program was threatened by proposed budget cuts, Women’s Studies students mobilized demonstrations and a letter-writing campaign that enlisted support from legislators and community organizations around the state. Their efforts provoked budget revisions that protected the program, but significantly reduced its allotment. To counter these losses, throughout the 1980s students, faculty and community partners held bake sales and fundraising drives to sustain the department until it was slowly refunded by the University as the program continued to expand into the 1990s. Women’s Studies was finally approved as an undergraduate minor in 1987 and a major in 1998, nearly thirty years after the formation of the PSU Women’s Union.

8th_annual_poster_croppedAs the program has grown, its students have worked with faculty to ensure that course offerings and curriculum reflect their priorities and are adaptable to evolving academic and political discourses of power and identity. In 2008, after several years of research, curriculum development, proposal drafting, and fundraising conducted by volunteer students and faculty, PSU Women’s Studies offered a minor in Sexuality, Gender and Queer Studies, the first program of its kind in Oregon.

In the spirit of the history of the program, Women’s Studies hosted a series of public conversations with students, faculty, staff, and community members to consider a change in nomenclature which would better reflect the purview and philosophy of the program. In 2010, Women’s Studies at PSU became Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and was also approved to become an academic department. Current and upcoming developments in WGSS demonstrate the vibrancy and future of feminist and queer activism and scholarship at PSU.

Grads 2015
Ever Forward
was curated by Rhiannon Cates, PSU Library Special Collections staff and WGSS alumna. The exhibit will be on display through Winter 2016 in the first floor elevator lobby of the PSU Library.

Introducing the “Traveling Scriptorium”

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Historical model of a medieval binding.
Historical model of a medieval binding.

What does an etched cuneiform tablet have in common with a sixteenth-century printed page? What natural materials were used to make inks and paints during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance? How is parchment made into a writing surface? How has the form of the book changed and stayed the same for almost two thousand years?

Replica of an early codex, circa 250 CE.
Replica of an early codex, circa 250 CE.

PSU faculty and students in the fields of art history, medieval history, book publishing, and graphic arts now have a new and engaging way to answer these and other inquiries about the material history of manuscripts with PSU Library Special Collections‘ “Traveling Scriptorium.”

Anne McClanan, Professor of Art History, was inspired by Yale University’s Traveling Scriptorium to create a hands-on resource at Portland State for teaching the art, culture, and science of medieval manuscripts and books. Like Yale’s project, PSU’s Traveling Scriptorium was designed to be portable for classroom use.

Art History student Normandie Holmes and PSU Library Special Collections collaborated with Professor McClanan to research and source historical book models, raw and powder pigments, oak galls and iron gall ink, parchment and vellum, and original examples of fifteenth-century manuscripts and printing for our own teaching kit. The kit is also packed with concise information on how manuscripts were produced by scribes and bookbinders, from pigments and parchment to calligraphy and gilding.

Text block sewn on split leather cords.

This teaching resource is available to Portland State faculty for three-day checkout directly from Special Collections, and is available to students by appointment. Please contact us at specialcollections@pdx.edu for more information. For more on manuscripts in PSU Library Special Collections, please visit our Rare Books and Manuscripts page.

Pigments, azurite, lazurite, and small manuscript leaf.Madder Lake dye and madder roots.Oak gall nuts used for making iron gall ink.Scribe Jean Mielot, Brussels, circa 1450.