An astronomical observatory on the roof of the Ondine?
An elementary school on campus?
A student-run television studio?
These are just a few of the Portland State projects that campus planners and architects envisioned, designed, and drew… but never built.
The “never-built environment” is a term for architectural design and urban planning projects that were either never constructed or were built in alternate or compromised states. Since its move to downtown Portland in 1952, the Portland State University campus has grown from a five-block area between Broadway and Park Avenue to over forty city blocks. The expanding university produced numerous plans and designs for new structures and landscapes–not all of which were realized. What might the campus have looked like, and what resources might it have offered, if these plans had come to be? In a new Library exhibit, PSU Architecture, Engineering, and Construction Archives present records of some of the university’s most surprising never-built projects.
The Ondine Observatory
Portland State’s plan to build an astronomical and seismic observatory in the 1960s was part of the college’s early effort to establish its reputation as a research institution. The college shelved the initial project, but did build both Science Building 1 and the Science Research and Teaching Center between 1965 and 1975.
PSU revived the dream of an on-campus observatory when faculty from the Chemistry and Physics departments, hoping to improve on-campus course offerings and research opportunities, proposed a domed telescope on the roof of the Ondine Residence Hall.
The cost of the equipment and its upkeep was daunting, however, and after delays from the dome’s manufacturer, expired building permits, and confusion about funding sources, the university closed the project in favor of two smaller and less expensive mobile telescopes mounted on the roof of Science 1.
Portland State Elementary School
The Student Housing and Elementary School (SHES) project began in the early 1990s in response to increasing need for on-campus child care and student housing. The multi-use SHES complex, located between SW Tenth and Twelfth Avenues, combined student apartments, retail, and an elementary school, with additional classrooms for use by Portland Public Schools and the PSU Graduate School of Education. The partner institutions suspended the project, however, after difficulties securing funding and determining which institution would pay for which features.
See More of PSU’s Past Future…
Other never-built Portland State projects include a television studio behind the Parkmill building, a pub in the Academic and Student Recreation Center, skybridges across the Park Blocks, a sports arena, and many, many parking garages.
Visit the “Never-Built Portland State” exhibit in the first floor lobby of the Library this Winter term to see more of what was once planned for the Portland State campus!
Are you an undergraduate at Portland State who is seeking opportunities to get involved with making public policy? Are you inspired to work for social and economic justice? Senator Jeff Merkley wants you to join him and his staff in Washington, D.C., this summer!
From Sen. Merkley’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.”
This internship honors 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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
Highlights 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.
Corinne 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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.