New Digital Collection of Oregon Public Speakers

Oregon public speakersBetween 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. Many of these events featured prominent public figures who were invited to campus by academic departments, university administration, or interested students. Portland State was a campaign stop for Presidential and Congressional candidates in the late sixties and early seventies, a focus of urban development in Portland, and fertile ground for conversations on politics, social justice, science and technology, the arts, and the future. 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 For a time, the tapes were available as a library resource, but, after reel-to-reel technology was superseded, the collection fell out of use and was not included when the library catalog went online.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.

This video features excerpts from fourteen speeches from the collection, along with historic images from PSU. The speakers are Stokely Carmichael, Marlene Dixon, Jessica Mitford, Alex Haley, Carl Sagan, Cornel Wilde, E. Dean Anderson, Branford P. Millar, Vera Katz, Robert F. Kennedy, Wayne Morse, Louis E. Lomax, John Froines, and Andries Deinum. Images are from the University Archives Digital Gallery, the Viking, the PSU Vanguard, and the PSU student film The Seventh Day (1970).