PSU Library Special Collections Participates in Oregon Archives Crawl

Join PSU Library Special Collections and University Archives and more than 30 other local archives, special collections, and heritage organizations on Saturday, October 20, 2018 for the Oregon Archives Crawl

""Start the Crawl at any of these locations: City of Portland Archives & Records Center, the Oregon Historical Society or the Multnomah County Library. At each site you’ll find representatives from archives, special collections, and heritage organizations. “Passports” are available at each site to help guide you and provide a list of organizations. From young, old, and in-between to vintage photo lover to history buff to scholar to student to genealogist to building researcher to those who are just curious to learn something new: everyone is welcome.

This event is free and open to the public. 

More information: Oregon Archives Crawl

Origins of Modern Middle East Studies: Scholarly and Travel Writing Before 1900

Illustration from a sketch of the ruins at Tadmor (Palmyra, Syria) by author Emily Beaufort Smythe (1861).

Middle East Studies in the West is informed by centuries of intellectual exchange which includes seminal works by Middle Eastern historians, language and cultural studies developed by European scholars, and popular travel writing, including works by women who toured Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Turkey in the 19th century. The Library’s exhibit, richly annotated by PSU alumnus and Middle East historian Gary Leiser, presents examples of works that contributed to the development of Middle East Studies in Europe, England, and the United States.

“Orientalism” in Academia and Printing

Map from Moeurs et usages des Turcs (1747).

French scholars coined the term “Orientalism” in the 18th century to describe the European scholarly study of the geographical region in which Arabic, Turkish, and Persian were spoken. For Europeans, this region began at the Eastern Mediterranean and, by extension, where the Christian and Islamic worlds met.

Detail from the Psalms printed in Arabic and Latin by Francois Savary de Breves (1614).

Initially, Orientalism focused on translation, acquisition of scientific knowledge, and support of Christian missionary activities, but new approaches to texts and history broadened the field after the Renaissance. The first books were printed in Arabic in the 16th century, and many Western scholars sought to consult (and publish) important Arabic works in the original.  European universities promoted Middle Eastern studies by establishing chairs of Arabic.

As European commercial and diplomatic relations with the Ottoman Empire and the Middle East in general expanded during the 18th and 19th centuries, study of the region developed as well and became increasingly secular, incorporating natural and cultural studies drawn from field research in addition to works on languages and religion. The exhibit features a printing of the first book set in Arabic type at Oxford (by the university’s first chair of Arabic), an edition of the Psalms in Arabic and Latin printed in France in 1614, and several examples of important works in printed Arabic written by Middle Eastern historians from the medieval era to the 18th century.

Egyptology and Travel Literature

Letter to James Cooley from George Gliddon (1842).

In the 19th century, travel literature from the East gained popularity with the Western public. The new field of Egyptology also inspired tourism and spurred book sales. Popular Egyptologists in the exhibit include women like Amelia Edwards, whose journey up the Nile in 1873-4 inspired her life’s work of professional study and preservation of Egyptian antiquities, and Americans James Cooley and George R. Gliddon, who came to blows in New York City over Gliddon’s scathing refutation of Cooley’s poor scholarship and mockery of the American consulate in Egypt in 1842.

The materials selected for this exhibit are part of Special Collections’ Middle East Studies Collection, which originated with the founding of PSU’s Middle East Studies Center in 1959. The dynamism of the MESC made Portland State almost synonymous with Middle East Studies in the 1960s and 70s, especially with instruction in Arabic. As one of the ten federal depositories receiving materials from Egypt after 1961, the PSU Library built one of the best Arabic collections in the western U.S.

This essay is drawn in part from a sketch of the history of Middle East studies by historians Gary Leiser and John Mandaville. Portland State University Library Special Collections thanks the Tarbell Family Foundation for supporting the ongoing development of the Middle East Studies collection.

“Conservatism in a Revolutionary Era”

The latest Library exhibit, opening May 31, 2017, presents a less-examined side of political debates and demonstrations during the Vietnam War era.

As United States military involvement in Vietnam escalated during the late 1960s, students at colleges and universities around the world mobilized against the war. From the Sorbonne in Paris to Kent State University in Ohio, campus life erupted in protest. Here at Portland State in 1970, students and faculty blockaded the South Park Blocks, demonstrating in opposition to the war, the military’s physical transport of nerve gas across Oregon, the Kent State killings, and the imprisonment of Black Panther leader Bobby Seale.

Young Americans for Freedom MailerWhile the themes and images of those protests have become emblematic of that turbulent period, what is often overlooked is that new conservative movements rose up on campuses at the same time. In 1960, William F. Buckley Jr. and some of his contemporaries founded the Young Americans for Freedom (YAF). The group’s purpose was to promote conservative values in young people during a time of heavy political mobilization by the Left in the U.S. and abroad.

Letter from Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan, governor of California from 1967-75, fundraising for YAF

“Conservatism in a Revolutionary Era” takes its titleYAF Brochure from a manifesto of the YAF. The exhibit, curated by Honors student Mariah Denman, examines the reactions, rhetoric, and recruitment of this counter-counter-cultural student organization through its mission, publicity, and fundraising.

The Americanism Collection

The publications of the YAF are part of PSU Special Collections’ Charles M. White Americanism Collection, which contains materials related to or disseminated by American far Right conservative organizations from the 1950s through the early 1980s.

Dr. White, a long-time faculty member of Portland State’s Department of History, had focused his doctoral work on far Left movements in the United States.  As a counterbalance, he shifted his scholarly focus to the other end of the political spectrum. For over three decades, Dr. White and his students gathered, organized, and preserved materials from dozens of right-wing groups.

The resulting collection records a historical spectrum of the political Right in the United States, from policy-focused economic and social conservatism to more virulent perspectives that openly draw upon legacies of exclusion and discrimination.

“Conservatism in a Revolutionary Era” is on display in the Library first floor elevator lobby starting May 31, 2017. For more information, please contact Portland State University Library Special Collections.

Portland State Campus Rap-In

Campus Rap-In

University Archives presents a new audio collection in PDXScholar

Portland State, like many colleges and universities in the United States, grappled with issues of political protest and freedom of expression at the start of the 1970s, and Portland State student media played a major part in creating public forums for campus voices. One outlet was the “Campus Rap-In,” a radio broadcast aired weekly on KGW 620-AM.

On Sunday nights at ten during the 1969-70 academic year, PSU students hosted the Rap-In, the university’s self-described “contribution to better broadcasting and controversial conversation.” Each half-hour program offered a mix of commentary on collegiate, city, and national news combined with interviews, comic sketches, and editorials in a blend of “seriousness and satire.” Originally recorded on reel-to-reel tape, the programs are now digitally transferred and available for online listening.

“Turn on, tune in, but don’t drop out!”

The programs are an unusual and entertaining way to get a sense of what was going on at PSU in academics, arts, sports, and popular culture in 1970. The Rap-In’s hosts talk with a founding faculty member of PSU’s newly established Black Studies program, the organizers of the first Earth Day teach-in, and leaders of student political and arts organizations. A comprehensive sports report covered PSU and regional college athletics, and spoken-word pieces and artist interviews spotlighted campus creativity. Listeners also heard student viewpoints on new developments in downtown Portland that are well-known today, such as the transit mall, the Marquam Bridge, and Pioneer Courthouse Square.

The Rap-In also frequently targeted Portland State and Portland with critique and humor. Students mourned the loss of “Old Portland” architecture like the Oriental Theater on Grand Avenue and skewered “Uncle Andy” (pictured above), a statue that towered over a burger joint at Broadway and College Street, with a “Bad Taste Award.” Impromptu interviews and satirical news items on the rituals of registration, parking, and applying for on-campus housing reflect how much has changed—and how much has stayed the same—on Portland’s commuter campus.

On the serious side, the Vietnam War and related issues were recurring topics. Military recruiting, campus demonstrations, and federal shipments of nerve gas through Oregon were the subjects of interviews and editorials on both sides of the issues. As the academic year progressed, anti-war protest gathered momentum, peaking in May 1970 with a campus-wide strike that ended in violence on the Park Blocks. Perhaps coincidentally, the Rap-In, which increasingly declared an anti-war position, did not return to the airwaves after the strike.

Audio streams of the Rap-In programs are publicly accessible on PDXScholar. Check them out for a unique listen to Portland State voices at the turn of the decade!

Never Built: The Past Future of Portland State

An astronomical observatory on the roof of the Ondine?

An elementary school on campus?

A student-run television studio?

Science 1 under construction in 1965.

Science 1 under construction in 1965.

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

Drawing of Astronomical and Seismic Observatory

Astronomical and Seismic Observatory concept drawing by James D. Harris, Architect (1960s).

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.

Elevations of the proposed rooftop telescope dome by PSU Architect Tom Arnich (2000).

Elevations of the proposed rooftop telescope dome by PSU Architect Tom Arnich (2000).

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

Elementary school and housing building rendered by BOORA Architects (1996).

Elementary school and housing building rendered by BOORA Architects (1996).

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…

Design for a sports and recreation center

Design for a multi-modal sports and recreation center. 1979.

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 to see more of what was once planned for the Portland State campus!

Congressional Internship with Senator Merkley in Summer 2017

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.”

Otto and Verdell Rutherford photographed at their home by Richard Brown in 1982

Otto and Verdell Rutherford photographed at their home by Richard Brown in 1982

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.

The Senator’s office is now accepting applications! The deadline for summer applicants is March 15, 2017. For more information and how to apply: The Otto and Verdell Rutherford Summer Congressional Internship [PDF]

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

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

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


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



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.

optimized_Advocate_1913_Dec_20_Page_5Its 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