What's Happening in Special Collections and University Archives

Rutherford Family Home Listed in National Register

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Rutherford Family Home circa 1922
The Rutherford Family Home, circa 1922. Photo from the Rutherford Collection at PSU Library.

The Northeast Portland family home of Otto and Verdell Burdine Rutherford was recently added to the National Register of Historic Places. According to Oregon Heritage, “the house is believed to be the first historic property in Oregon listed in the National Register primarily for its association with the Civil Rights era.”

Portland State University Library Special Collections holds the Verdell A. Burdine and Otto G. Rutherford Family Collection, donated by their daughter Charlotte Rutherford to PSU in 2012.

Oregon Heritage describes the house on the corner of NE Shaver and 9th in historic Albina as “a modest bungalow that served as a family home and support center for civil rights causes for more than half a century.” They continue:

“It was home to three generations of the Rutherford family, each of which was active in civil rights in Portland. William Rutherford and his brother Henry moved to Portland from Columbia, South Carolina in 1897 to work as barbers in the prestigious Portland Hotel. In 1923 William moved into the 1905 house on Shaver Street in the King neighborhood of Albina. Here William and his wife Lottie raised their four children, including their third son Otto, instilling in them a love of community and respect for education and hard work.

Otto and Verdell moved back into the family home upon their marriage in 1936 and began their life of activism. A high point in their careers occurred in 1953, when Oregon’s Public Accommodations Act, under the sponsorship of then Representative Mark O. Hatfield, was passed. This landmark legislation occurred when Otto Rutherford was president of the Portland Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and Verdell was secretary, positions they held for several years.

Otto & Verdell Rutherford in 1982. Photo by Richard Brown.
Otto & Verdell Rutherford at their home in 1982. Photo by Richard Brown from the Rutherford Collection at PSU Library.

The Rutherford house, where Otto and Verdell raised their three children, was the location of much organizing for civil rights in the 1940s and 1950s, as well as being the first home of the NAACP Credit Union.

In later years, the Rutherfords worked arduously to document the history of the African American community in Portland. … Otto died in 2000 and Verdell followed shortly thereafter, in 2001. The house is still held by the family.”

Learn more about the National Register and recent Oregon place listings.

View the online exhibit Say We Are Here: Selections from the Verdell A. Burdine and Otto G. Rutherford Family Collection

Learn more about the Rutherfords and see a larger selection of their family photos, scrapbooks, newspapers clippings, records, and more.

See the finding aid for the Verdell Burdine and Otto G. Rutherford Family Collection, 1900s-1980s.

Read the Oregonian story “Modest Northeast Portland home wins historic designation for civil rights role.”

Special Collections Mini-Exhibit: Wear your politics!

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Colorful, humorous, emphatic, sassy, serious, right to the point: a slogan on a pin sometimes sums it up perfectly. Oregon politician Gretchen Kafoury saved thousands of political and campaign buttons during her two decades in public office, her work with the National Organization for Women and the Oregon Women’s Political Caucus, her career as an educator, and a lifetime of volunteer activism.Pins

PSU Library’s Special Collections has gathered part of Kafoury’s pin collection in a display which shows some of the causes and events with which she was engaged. We also feel that many of these pins’ up-front statements reveal the unflagging energy, enthusiasm, values, and leadership for which Kafoury herself is remembered.

See the collection this summer in the display cases nearest to Special Collections in the first floor elevator lobby (south end), starting August 26, 2015.

Gretchen Kafoury (1942-2015) was a politician, activist, and educator. She served in the Oregon state legislature from 1977 until 1982, on the Multnomah County Commission from 1985-1991, and as Portland City Commissioner from 1991-1998. Her political record and her life before and after public office show her dedication to economic and social justice, community development, women’s rights, health care, and education. She co-founded the state chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and the Oregon Women’s Political Caucus (OWPC) in the early 1970s. Key issues for her as a legislator and commissioner included hospital care, aid for victims of domestic violence, job and credit assistance for low-income women, and affordable housing.Gretchen Kafoury 200px

After her retirement in 2008, Kafoury donated a collection of documents from her time with NOW and the OWPC to Portland State University Library Special Collections. In 2015, her daughter Katharine made a second gift to Special Collections of documents and ephemera from Gretchen Kafoury’s political career.

To access the Gretchen Kafoury Papers and other Special Collections materials, please contact specialcollections@lists.pdx.edu to make an appointment.

Listen to Julian Bond at Portland State in 1970

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Julian Bond, a writer, professor, politician, social activist, and leader in the American Civil Rights Movement, died on August 15, at age 75.

In 1970, while serving as an elected member of the Georgia House of Representatives, Bond traveled to Portland and spoke at Portland State on the topic of “Racial Equality in the United States.” His talk included the following quote:

julian bond
Julian Bond in 2012. Photo by Eduardo Montes-Bradley [CC BY-SA 4.0].

“The processes which elevated the European — hard work, self-help, ethnic identification, political activism, economic separatism, intellectual striving — these can, at best, only minimally improve the condition of the mass of Black people in this country. While American society has always presented the opportunity for some Black people to rise to positions of influence and affluence, and while society presently presents the opportunity for general, if only minimal, improvements to be won through the regular channels, it has not yet shown any indication or willingness to change its three-hundred-year-old history of exploitation and suppression based on race, and an economic system which has always believed that property is more important than people.”

Originally recorded on a reel-to-reel audio tape, PSU Library Special Collections and University Archives staff recently transferred the audio to digital format.

Listen to Julian Bond speak at Portland State on May 22, 1970:

Professor Bond’s lecture at PSU is one of many in the Portland State University Library Oregon Public Speakers Collection. Between 1958 and 1979, Portland State University hosted over two hundred speeches, interviews, panel discussions, and readings by scholars, activists, politicians, authors, artists, and community members. The recordings in this collection reveal an era of vital dialogue and debate supported by the university and its community.

The original recordings of these events were captured on reel-to-reel tapes by Portland State audio-visual technicians. For a time, the tapes were available as a library resource, but after reel-to-reel technology was superseded the collection fell out of use and was not included when the library catalog went online. The tapes spent years in storage until their rediscovery by PSU’s University Archivist. With the generous support of the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Library Services and Technology Act, new digital transfers of the original reel-to-reel audio recordings are now available to the public in the Oregon Public Speakers Collection.

Upcoming Talk: Care & Repair of Books

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Monday, October 26, 2015
6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
Library Room 160

a book being bound
A book being bound. Photo courtesy of Carolee Harrison.

Do you have a favorite book from childhood with a torn page? Or a hand-me-down cookbook that’s seen better days? Have you ever wondered how a book is physically put together?

Join book repair expert Carolee Harrison from Portland State University Library Special Collections and University Archives and learn the basics of book structure and simple techniques for maintaining your personal library.

Carolee will share:

  • A brief history of book structure, with physical models
  • How to protect and repair your own books from your personal collection

These tips are directed towards understanding, storing, and repairing regular books in personal collections, not rare or unique materials.

This event is free and open to the public. PSU Library is hosting this event as part of Portland State of Mind.

See more information and photos on the Facebook event page.

Questions? Contact Joan Petit.
Portland State of Mind promo

BikePortland Article Draws on Library’s Ernie Bonner Papers

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The Ernie Bonner Papers in PSU Library Special Collections are the main source for Michael Andersen’s “The Secret History of Portland’s Weirdest Neighborhood,” the second in series of articles about the Lloyd District published by BikePortland.org.

Ernie Bonner (1932 – 2004) served as chief planner in Cleveland, Ohio before he was recruited to Portland as the City’s Director of Urban Planning in 1973. He acted as Portland’s chief urban planner until 1978. After leaving the City Council he worked as a Metro councilor, president of Sunlight Energy Systems, and as an energy conservation manager for Bonneville Power Administration. Later he worked or volunteered with various Portland groups including Riverfront for People, Metro 7, Portland Planning Commission, and the Park Blocks Foundation.

Ralph Lloyd
Ralph Lloyd, circa 1930.

The collection of Ernie Bonner Papers is comprised of materials from Bonner’s career, research, and urban planning projects. All of the documents are related directly to Portland, Oregon and are focused, with very few exceptions, on public planning. The material ranges primarily from the time Bonner was active in Portland planning and development (1970s-2003), but he also used and assembled a significant amount of historical material dating from 1919 through the early 1940s. Notably, for the BikePortland piece, it also includes a manuscript biography of Ralph Lloyd, the Los Angeles millionaire developer who purchased much of the land in today’s Lloyd District.

Michael Andersen writes:

For most of Portland’s history, the land we know today as the Lloyd District was best known for failure.

Holladay Park: named for a scoundrel who planted its trees and then gambled away his fortune. The state and federal buildings along Lloyd Boulevard: advance outposts of a government center that never arrived. And Lloyd himself: an oil multimillionaire who died all but cursing the city he’d fallen in love with 40 years before. …

But how did the Lloyd District become a suburb hidden in the middle of a city? And what happened as the 20th century ended that has started to open it back up — putting it on course to become what could be, 10 or 15 years from now, the most bike-oriented high-rise neighborhood in the country?

The answers to those questions tell a story about Portland, and a story about all American cities.

They also suggest a lesson that Portland, like all American cities, is still struggling to learn about itself.

Read “The Secret History of Portland’s Weirdest Neighborhood” at BikePortland.

See digitized materials from the Ernie Bonner Collection in PDXScholar.

Learn more about the complete collection of Ernie Bonner materials held by PSU Library Special Collections, including the Ernie Bonner Papers, 1919-2003 and the Ernie Bonner Oral History Collection, 1994-2004.

Gloves or No Gloves? On the Proper Handling of Rare Books & Manuscripts

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The Spring 2015 issue of Portland State Magazine offers a cover story focusing on Texts of Time, the student-curated Library exhibit on a newly-acquired Medieval Book of Hours. We’ve heard questions from many readers, however, about the cover photograph, which shows a pair of bare hands holding the fifteenth-century manuscript. Some readers have wondered about proper handling of fragile materials and asked if it would be better to wear gloves.Photo of Book of Hours

We talked to Library Conservation Technician Carolee Harrison, who worked with the photographer on the photo shoot and whose hands are shown holding the book in the photographs. Carolee is well-known throughout the state for her knowledge of the care and repair of library materials. In her work, Carolee draws upon the recommendations of the Library of Congress:

“According to the Library of Congress, wearing gloves while handling antiquarian books may do more harm than good. Portland State University Library Special Collections follows their advice to handle most rare and valuable books with clean, dry hands.”

Specifically, the Library of Congress recommends the following: 

“Before handling any collection item, thoroughly wash and dry hands. Contrary to widespread belief, gloves are not necessarily recommended to handle rare or valuable books. Gloves (nitrile or vinyl) are always recommended if there is reason to suspect a health hazard (e.g., mold, arsenic). Clean gloves (nitrile, vinyl, or lint-free cotton) are also recommended when handling photograph albums/photographs or books with metal or ivory parts. Aside from those specific situations, it is generally preferable to handle your books with clean hands, washed with soap and thoroughly dried, rather than with gloves.”

Indeed, as conservators write in International Preservation News, the recommendation to use gloves is a dangerous and “pervasive myth” that may result in the tearing of pages. And gloves often carry far more dirt than clean hands. Please see “Misperceptions about White Gloves” in International Preservations News for more information.

We are pleased to learn of the Portland State community’s interest in rare book preservation! We welcome you to view the Book of Hours on display in the Library through mid-July.

Texts of Time: The Portland State Book of Hours and the Medieval Manuscript Tradition

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May 4 – July 17, 2015
First Floor Exhibit Space

Please note: the Book of Hours manuscript will be on display Monday to Friday from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm. The accompanying materials are on display whenever the Library is open.

Photo of Book of HoursWith support from the Gordon Hunter Fund, Portland State University Library Special Collections recently acquired a late 15th century French Book of Hours, the first intact medieval manuscript owned by the Library. The Book of Hours was the most popular text during the late Medieval period.

A Book of Hours consisted of prayers and meditations that guided readers through the eight liturgical hours of the day celebrated by medieval Christians in Western Europe. These manuscripts were usually small enough to be carried around and sometimes decorated with colorful miniature paintings and gold leaf. A Book of Hours was an essential companion to a devout reader. Royal and wealthy patrons often owned several, lavishly decorated Books of Hours, but for a family of lesser rank, it was often the only book they owned.

Books of Hours were a compact version of the prayers recited at monasteries. They included calendars highlighting feast days, Gospel prayers, prayers to saints, and most importantly, prayers to the Virgin Mary. The prayers were divided into sections to be read from Matins to Compline with illuminations and decorative flourishes throughout. Books of Hours were highly personalized in their original design and later additions to the text made by their owners. Many Books of Hours were given as gifts and remained in families for generations. The Book of Hours presents a wealth of information about daily life and culture in medieval Europe.

Professor Anne McClanan’s art history seminar in winter 2015 prepared a digital and physical exhibit of the Portland State University Library Book of Hours. The physical exhibit is on display in the Library’s First Floor Exhibit Space from May 4 – July 17. The digital exhibit is available online.

bookofhours5 Photo of Book of Hours bookofhours2 bookofhours4

Primary Resources for Community Action: A Black History Forum at PSU Library

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Thursday, May 21, 2015
6:00-8:00pm
Library, 3rd Floor

PSU Library Special Collections invites you to a free forum on the exciting community and history projects stemming from the archival collections of Senator Avel Gordly and Otto and Verdell Rutherford.

Politician and educator Avel Gordly and community activists and historians Verdell and Otto Rutherford are key figures in Oregon history. Their dedication to social justice, racial equality, and advocacy for the Black community is documented in the historical records they maintained and preserved.

PSU Library Special Collections is the proud steward of the Gordly and Rutherford archives, which have served as vital resources for students, activists, historians, artists, and filmmakers, inspiring creativity and fortifying action.

Please join us to engage with people and projects that carry forward the spirit and the commitment of Senator Gordly and the Rutherford family. After a series of lightning talks by invited presenters, all will have the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas for collaboration, mentorship, strategic action, and the creation and preservation of a representative historical record.

Come share common ground enriched by these important historical collections and consider how the history you are creating today can be preserved as a foundation for future action.

Families are welcome! Refreshments will be served.

For more information, please contact PSU Library Special Collections by email or phone at 503-725-9883.

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This event is hosted by PSU Library Special Collections with support from the PSU Diversity Action Council and the Office of Global Diversity and Inclusion.