OMA and AHE 638 Collaboration: Oregon Higher Education Oral Histories Collection

Oregon Higher Education Oral Histories Collection

The Oregon Higher Education Oral Histories Collection contains the interviews of 33 individuals sharing the histories and their experiences of 11 community colleges in Oregon including Blue Mountain Community College, Central Oregon Community College, Chemeketa Community College, Klamath Community College, Lane Community College, Linn-Benton Community College, Portland Community College, Southwestern Oregon Community College, Tillamook Bay Community College, Treasure Valley Community College, and Umpqua Community College. All of the interviews are available online.

In 2019, I collaborated with Difference, Power, and Discrimination Academy participant Lucy Arellano on an oral history project for her graduate level course AHE 638 “History of Higher Education.” The purpose of the course is to survey American higher education across 200-plus years of history, with a specific emphasis on community colleges. The goal of the collaboration was for the graduate students to conduct oral history interviews with founding members of Oregon’s community colleges, a history not broadly represented in the archival narrative. Arellano and I met to share information about the course, and for me to explain the logistics of incorporating an oral history project within a course. In the years prior, I collaborated with Professor Mina Carson and her “Lesbian and Gay Movements in Modern America” course for an oral history project to interview members of the local LGBTQIA communities. I shared my course lessons plans with Arellano, as well as the oral history collection to which the students contribute the oral histories they conduct.  

My work with students on oral history projects is always incredibly rewarding. For communities who have been traditionally marginalized in both the historical record and in historiography, oral histories can be a form of empowerment, a way in which community members can literally add their voice to the historical narrative. In addition, the process of a community sharing its stories can provide personal opportunities for self-reflection, an appreciation for the struggles endured, and a celebration of the community’s accomplishments thus far. I share these concepts with students to frame their oral history projects and to think of oral history interviews as gift. Oral histories can be a gift for both the interviewee who has the opportunity to share their stories and the interviewer who has the privilege to hear them, as well as the archives who then has the honor of preserving and making the stories accessible. With this framework, oral history projects can be transformative experience for students.      

 As part of the collaboration with Arellano’s class, I met with the students for a two-hour oral history workshop. Prior to my visit, I gave the students a mini-assignment to read the Oral History Association’s principles and best practices, and to ask at least one question. In addition, I requested each student select at least one interview to listen to from the OMA’s Multicultural Voices of Oregon website and make at least one comment, being something learned or a critique. Arellano emailed me the students’ questions and comments the day before my visit so that I could incorporate the answers into my presentation. During my time with the students, I covered several topics, allowed for questions while presenting, and left time for questions at the end of the session. After introductions, I first described what archives are and shared information about my work with the OMA and OSQA, as well as SCARC. I gave an overview of oral histories – in theory and in practice – and reviewed the Multicultural Voices of Oregon website I asked them to peruse. I shared my interview best practices and gave examples of lessons learned from oral history interviews I have conducted. Since one of the goals of the collaboration was to make the interviews accessible via the archives, I reviewed the consent form SCARC requires all interviewees to sign. I engaged the students in a discussion regarding developing interview questions and topics to ask the interviewees and reviewed the plan for the technology they were to use to conduct the interviews. To conclude, I shared an interview checklist for the students to use and explained my requirements for their assignment, which included the submission of the digital interview files, a signed consent form, and an interviewee bio as well as an interview summary. Upon reflection of the oral history workshop, Arellano expressed it “provided an avenue of motivation for [the students], realizing that their end products would end up memorialized in the archives” (L. Arellano, personal communication, August 5, 2019).

After my session, the thirteen students worked in pairs, with one group of three, to conduct the interviews. Arellano determined the scope of the project; she decided that all the students had to select interviewees from community colleges in Oregon. She worked with the class to develop and finalize the interview questions, with the main goal of gathering stories pertaining to the community colleges’ historical foundations. While it was not a requirement for the interviewees to agree to donate their interview to the archives, they were encouraged to do so. At the end of the term, the students submitted all the assignment requirements to Arellano, and she then shared the materials with me electronically. With the students’ work, I created the Oregon Higher Education Oral Histories Collection. All the interviewee biographies and interview summaries are a part of the collection, and the interviews themselves are accessible online to the public.

This collaboration was multifaceted in its benefits. With this oral history project, the students gained firsthand experience as scholars adding to the historical record, the oral history interviewees had the opportunity to share their stories, the archives created a new collection, and future scholars will benefit from now having these histories accessible to them for their research. From Arellano’s perspective, “the multiple components of the oral history project are what make it so engaging. Not only are students reading about the history of community colleges via the textbooks, but they also have a hand in shaping it. Through the process of setting up their interviews they also develop networking skills with college leaders, they practice qualitative methodologies, and they also learn to function within a group (and have support) of their peers. Ultimately it is my hope that students develop a deeper level of engagement and appreciation of history yet be critical of the perspective presented” (L. Arellano, personal communication, August 5, 2019). Arellano intends to offer the course again, and we intend to continue our collaboration. Considering there are seventeen community colleges – with over sixty campuses and centers throughout the state, there are still many stories to gather.

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Ismael Pardo, OMA Internship 2020 Reflection

Ismael Pardo

The OMA has hosted numerous interns over the past 10 years and this past academic year, during winter and spring 2020, we hosted Ismael Pardo, an OSU senior majoring in history and religious studies. Over the course of 5 months Ismael worked on various projects. He updated the Oregon Multicultural Communities Research Collection by adding documents to the collection and reorganizing it, and due to the need for him to work remotely during spring term, he transcribed 3 oral history interviews about the 2015 Students of Color Speak Out event. Lastly, he worked on writing interviewee biographies and interview summaries for the Oregon Higher Education Oral Histories Collection.

Below is his reflection on his overall internship experience:

“Since beginning college, I knew that I wanted to study history and help make it more accessible to others. As a first-generation Chicano student, and due to the lack of focus underrepresented people’s histories receive, I was also painfully aware of the value history contained for an underrepresented person in the United States. It is a link to our past, a past that is too often not taught to us. I want to work on changing that. My internship at SCARC provided me with a unique opportunity to be directly involved in the preservation of histories belonging to underrepresented groups and invaluable experience for my future academics and career. I could not have passed it up.

At first, I was sure that to pursue my goal I had to become a high school history teacher. In fact, this goal was the main reason I transferred from the University of Oregon to Oregon State University (the dual degree program poached a duck!). It wasn’t until the spring term of my senior year that I realized that I didn’t want to just teach history to students (although this is still a worthy cause); I wanted to create it. I wanted to write it. So, I postponed graduating, decided to take another year of undergrad, and added Religious Studies as a second major. I used that year as a year to prepare myself to apply to graduate programs in history.

Fall term 2019 was full of applications and GRE prep and test taking. Winter term, I applied and was hired on to a SCARC internship to work with Natalia Fernández on the Oregon Multicultural Communities Research Collection. I was thrilled to work in the preservation of historical documents, especially those that were directly associated with underrepresented Oregonians (which indeed, I have been one for the past two decades!). And while I was involved with organizing and introducing new documents to Collections, the most impactful experience I had while working as an intern occurred one day as my shift was beginning. Natalia was upstairs in the Special Collections and Archives Reading Room meeting with a group of older gentlemen. I snuck in, placed my backpack and jacket in the storage room around the corner, and began setting up my laptop for another day of archival work. The proximity of the research tables made it impossible for me to not overhear some of the conversation that was occurring some feet away. The men were there to donate some artifacts and documents to the archive and were talking to Natalia about the process. After some time passed and I had laid out the materials and documents I was going to work with, one of the men spoke to me. “Hablas español, mijo?” I responded that I did indeed speak Spanish, and that I was at his service. He motioned me over and asked me for directions to the OSU César Chávez Centro Cultural, which I provided in Spanish. Natalia also offered her assistance in Spanish. I accompanied both the men and Natalia downstairs with a document dolly, all the while speaking to the man in Spanish about all of the things that he and his compadres had done. He told me about his civil rights work, his work with the Logging workers, and the establishment of the Colegio César Chávez in Mt. Angel, Oregon. I listened to his story intently, received the documents they were donating, said goodbye, and began walking back to the Library.

This interaction made me acutely aware of the sometimes precarious relationship between the community and the local archive. I had gotten the impression that there was a little bit of stress regarding the permanent nature of the archival donation. I think it’s probably well warranted too. The man had entrusted our archive, and in some sense me, an intern, with the curation and preservation of his and his community’s history. It was a radical action, and it was an awesome responsibility. Before that day I had been dealing with documents and historical agents that I had only met through documents, ink, and paper. It may have been relatively easy to understand intellectually that these agents were real people, but it was this comparatively brief interaction with a group of Latino men and their historical donation that truly drove home the reality and gravity of what it was that both an archive and the researcher does. We, both archivists and researchers, have a solemn duty to do People justice in the preservation and telling of their history.

In the process of working as an intern I received admittance, and accepted the offer presented to me, to the University of Michigan as an incoming History Ph.D. student. My experiences as an intern at SCARC have been very informative and influential. My approach to the writing of history will be guided by the gravity of the duty that I have discovered in the course of my internship. I will also use my experiences as an archival assistant as an advantage. As I continue my goal to preserve, write, and disseminate the histories of underrepresented groups, I believe my experiences and new perspective as an archival assistant will not only be an asset, but prove invaluable.”

~ Ismael Pardo, OMA 2020 Intern

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2015 OSU Students of Color Speak Out Oral History Interviews

2015 OSU Speak Out Organizers Haniya Ferrell, Jasmine Armas, and Jesseanne Pope

In November 2015, members of OSU’s students of color communities gathered in Gill Coliseum to address concerns and experiences of racism and anti-Blackness on campus and in their lives. Organized by three queer students in the community, the “Students of Color Speak Out” was the result of a petition that circulated around campus, demanding President Ed Ray and university administration to acknowledge, prioritize, and address the concerns of students of color on campus. In an intentionally unordered fashion, students of color approached the microphone and audience of over 500 students, faculty, and community members, and bravely spoke of their experiences of racism and marginalization at Oregon State and in Corvallis. In an attempt to make the Speak Out more accessible, the university decided to livestream the event online, which drew in more than 3,000 viewers. The urgency and crucial need for racial justice on campus became clear when the video, which was setup to allow anonymous comments, was flooded with violent racist, sexist and anti-Black comments and threats toward the students who were sharing their experiences. Students at the microphone and in the audience followed along in horror, pointing to the comments as exhibits to the very experience that preceded the Speak Out. The Speak Out concluded with a call to action for administration to make institutional changes that move OSU toward being a more socially just and inclusive campus. The main result of Speak Out was the creation of the Office of Institutional Diversity.

In 2017, OSU student Lyndi-Rae Petty wrote an honors thesis titled “The Never-Ending Story: An Analysis of Student Activism at Oregon State University” to bring to light the history of activism at OSU by students of color over the past 60 years, specifically the needs behind the actions taken, the strategies used, the administrative response, and the lasting impact of their actions. As part of her thesis, she heavily used and cited archival materials, and additionally, she created archival material by conducting three oral history interviews with the organizers of the 2015 OSU Speak Out. The oral history interviews are a part of the OMA Oral History Collection (OH18). Below are the three interviews:

Haniya Ferrell

Haniya Ferrell Interview Video and Transcript

  • Interviewer: Lyndi-Rae Petty
  • Date: May 26, 2017
  • Length: 41:51
  • Bio: At the time of the interview, Haniya Ferrell was an undergraduate student at Oregon State University. During her time at OSU, she worked at the Centro Cultural César Chávez, Social Change Leadership Programs, and in ASOSU as the Coordinator of Multicultural Affairs. Ferrell was one of the three students – along with Jasmine Armas and Jesseanne Pope – who organized the 2015 OSU Students of Color Speak Out. She was raised in Antioch, California.
  • Interview Summary: Haniya Ferrell discusses growing up in Antioch, California, and how her community shaped her. Ferrell then details her decision-making process for coming to Oregon State University. She describes her involvement in social justice programs and initiatives on campus and how she came to be involved. Afterwards, Ferrell describes the process leading up to the Speak Out event. She then retells what happened after the event and the expected outcomes. Ferrell concludes the interview by discussing the campus “climate” after the event, and the first steps the administrators can take to create a better environment for students of color.

Jasmine Armas

Jasmine Armas Interview Video and Transcript

  • Interviewer: Lyndi-Rae Petty
  • Date: May 30, 2017
  • Length: 48:15
  • Bio: At the time of the interview, Jasmine Armas was a fourth-year undergraduate student studying zoology at Oregon State University. Armas was involved in various campus groups Kappa Delta Chi Sorority incorporated, a Latina founded organization, Social Change Leadership Programs, and Student Leadership Involvement. Jasmine Armas was one of the three students – along with Haniya Ferrell and Jesseanne Pope – involved with organizing the Students of Color Speak Out event in 2015. Armas is from Los Angeles county California, specifically Maywood and Lakewood, California.
  • Summary: Jasmine Armas discusses growing up in Los Angeles county, particularly Maywood and Lakewood, California. Armas talks about how her community helped shape her. Armas goes on to describe her decision-making process for picking Oregon State University for her college education. Armas then comments on her first impressions of the university. She then discusses how she came to be involved with social justice work on campus and how she became involved with the organization of the Speak Out. Armas then gives her opinion on how things can be made better for students of color after the Speak Out. Afterwards, Armas also describes the campus climate post Speak Out. Armas concludes the interview offering advice to new students on how to conduct social justice work on campus.

Jesseanne Pope

Jesseanne Pope Interview Video and Transcript

  • Interviewer: Lyndi-Rae Petty
  • Date: May 26, 2017
  • Length: 01:04:34
  • Bio: At the time of the interview Jesseanne Pope was a recent alumnus of Oregon State University. During her time at OSU, she worked in various positions, including the Hattie Redmond Women and Gender Center (previously called the Women’s Center) and the Social Change Leadership Programs, and she described her participation in the Examining White Identity retreat as transformative. Pope was one of the three students – along with Haniya Ferrell and Jasmine Armas – who organized the 2015 Students of Color Speak Out at Oregon State University. Pope was born in Roseburg, Oregon, and was brought up in Grants Pass, Oregon.
  • Summary: Jesseanne Pope discusses what it was like growing up in the Southern Oregon town of Grants Pass and how their community shaped them. Pope explains the process of their decision to attend Oregon State University and explains how they got involved with social justice work on campus. Pope goes on to explain their involvement in the planning of the Speak Out event, the demands of the Speak Out, and the reaction of the Oregon State University administration. Pope also details the campus climate that sparked them into co-organizing the Speak Out with two other students. Pope details their view of how the university decentered the voices of students of color. Finally, Pope concludes the interview with their advice to future Oregon State students.

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In the spring of 2020, the interviews were fully transcribed and made available online thanks to the work of Ismael Pardo, OMA Student Intern 2020; below is his reflection on the experience of listening to and learning from these stories…

A Reflection on Oral Histories during the COVID-19 Pandemic

2015 seems to me a lifetime ago. In reality, it’s only just five years in the past. I was about to graduate from Grants Pass High School (Go Cavemen!) at the time, and I was completely unaware of the happenings at Oregon State University. The three oral histories that I transcribed detailed a very powerful act of empowerment. The students of color Speak Out was an impressive testament to what three people, underrepresented though they might be, could get done to have a voice and speak their proverbial truth to power. Significantly, the Speak Out was much more than just three students organizing an event, but rather it proved to be both a catalyst and a platform for the underlying tensions that students of color were having to endure at Oregon State University.

As a young historian (I’m heading to the University of Michigan in the fall to pursue a PhD!) and as a student of color, I have been distinctly interested in power dynamics between underrepresented people and the institutions that they can make appeals to. The students of color Speak Out seemed to me another representation of these power dynamics at work. It is difficult for me to approach the oral histories and the accompanying event as history because it is so immediate, but none the less, certain aspects remain. OSU as an institution was perceived by many students of color (the interviewees remark that Gill Colosseum was held a significant amount of people for the event) to not be completely delivering to their needs or hearing their concerns. In 2015, after a contentious and controversial course of events occurred at MissU involving the Ku Klux Klan harassing students of color, activists Haniya, Jasmine Armas, and Jesseane Pope sprung into action at our own institution to prevent this from happening here. In their accounts they told of the lack of support that they received from their department, Social Change Leadership Programs, and how overall it was a very isolating experience.

It’s interesting for me because Unlike Haniya and Jasmine, I’m a person of color from Oregon, and to be exact, I’m a person of color from Grants Pass, the town that Jesseanne Pope is from. The retelling of the distinct experiences from all three interviewees made me think of my own experiences at OSU from my perspective. Much like Jesseanne, I too attended the University of Oregon before arriving at OSU and found it cold and unfriendly. And in contrast to the perceptions of Jasmine and Haniya, I actually found OSU to be a particularly diverse campus (and place for that matter), because as far as Oregon goes, it is! As I listened to their interviews (over and over again), I realized that I had grown up in an area without the well-established cultural communities that both Haniya and Jasmine had in their respective hometowns. I was from Oregon. All my friends were always white. And yet, there were still things that I, similarly to Jesseanne, required but could not get because I did not have the right language to verbalize. These interviews, along with Ms. Petty’s thesis helped me further analyze my own history. A history of a person of color who grew up without other persons of color.

My work on this project was quite sudden. The novel Coronavirus ended the possibility of continuing my in-person work at SCARC. Thankfully this project (along with other future projects) were possible to conduct from home. Nevertheless, working from home while attending the new virtual form of class has had a bit of a learning curve. Add to that the fact that I got sick for like five days, and the project was bound to take a bit longer than I expected. That being said, it was quite rewarding to have a bit of routine to my week. In some cases, the transcription took on a meditative like element.

Ultimately, the experiences I had with the project, logistically, academically, and intellectually, were positive. The history’s retold by the three interviewees along with the current context regarding the worldwide pandemic made the immediacy of “history” much clearer. It also allowed me to reflect more clearly on my own historical context in regard to geography, race, and systems of oppression and empowerment.

To conclude, I would like to offer a sentiment of solidarity to everyone currently working, studying, learning, and teaching from home. We are in this together!

¡Sí se puede!

Ismael Pardo, OMA Student Intern 2020

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Exhibit ~ Chuck Williams Photographic Collection

“Legacy of an Oregonian Photographer: the Chuck Williams Photographic Collection” highlights the work of Charles Otis “Chuck” Williams II (1943-2016), an Oregon-based professional photographer and environmental activist. He was of Cascade Chinook descent and for many years a member of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. 

Prior to his passing, Williams donated his materials to both Willamette University (WU) and Oregon State University (OSU). Willamette University’s collection, the “Chuck Williams Activist Papers,” documents Williams’s integral role in preserving the Columbia River Gorge, and highlights his leadership in the grass-roots activism that led to the National Scenic Act. Oregon State University’s “Chuck Williams Photographic Collection” is a part of the Oregon Multicultural Archives, which is dedicated to preserving and celebrating the histories of communities of color in Oregon. The photo collection includes thousands of slides, prints, and digital photographic materials that showcase Williams’ prolific career as a photographer during the 1980s-2000s. The photographs document the wide variety of cultural celebrations, landscapes, and tribal communities in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. Together, these materials provide a unique perspective on Oregon, including topics such as environmental and political science, photography, and the state’s multicultural history.

This exhibit begins with a “behind the scenes” look into Williams’ life as a professional photographer, including his cataloging process and the equipment he used to document the events, people, and places he photographed. It also demonstrates the many ways a photographer shares their work and first-hand knowledge of a community through exhibitions, lectures, books, and more.

The exhibit then focuses on Williams’ photographs representing communities of color in Oregon. Williams traveled the state photographing a variety of Oregon’s Indigenous, Latinx, Asian-American, and African-American community events. These rich and varied images provide a visual context to Oregon’s increasingly diverse history and ongoing cultural heritage.

Chuck Williams was a direct descendant of Chief Tumulth of the Cascades Tribe, who signed the (ratified) 1855 Treaty of the Willamette Valley. In addition to his work as a photographer, Williams worked as publications editor and public-information manager for the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission in Portland, co-founded and managed Salmon Corps, and was the former national parks expert for Friends of the Earth. He also started the campaign for a Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area, and his land donation is now the Franz Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

For much of his life Williams was based in The Dalles area, and by virtue of his work as a professional photographer, he attended events, festivals, and celebrations predominantly in Oregon and Washington. He sought out opportunities to document these events and his career flourished; in time, several organizations invited him to be one of their official photographers.

Although Williams’ primary medium in the 1980s and 1990s was slide photography, he adapted to new technologies and soon produced print and digital photography. To track his work, Williams labeled his images and used a system of alphanumeric codes; while in the field, he carried small notebooks, spare flyers, and scrap paper to note the pictures he took and their matching codes. Williams created a master index that served as a complete catalog of his work; each entry in the index included a code, a narrative description of the photo(s), and the date(s). Sometimes the photographic material only included a code and minimal textual information, so this index is instrumental in completing our understanding of the images. While most of his slides were kept in slide boxes, he also curated his work by selecting slides to place in carousels to make it easier for his own review and to share his work with others.

“Chuck” means “river” in Chinook Wawa. In 2007, Chuck Williams wrote, “undammed rivers are not only important to me personally, but also seem like an appropriate symbol of the enduring River People.” Throughout his life, Williams was a dedicated advocate for the rights of Indigenous Peoples of the Columbia River Gorge area. His core values informed his artistic and professional endeavors. As a part of his activism, he created art that celebrated and supported the River People, while also educating the broader community about important issues. 

In 1994, Williams opened his gallery, The Columbia Gorge Gallery, which was located downtown in The Dalles, Oregon. He exhibited his own photographs, along with the works of other artists. While the Gallery was a space for people to see his work, Williams also participated in community activities in order to reach a wider audience. He gave lectures and slide shows for speaker series and special events, and his photography was shown in numerous museums and galleries, predominately in Oregon.

After the success of the Gallery’s first exhibit, “Photographs of Celilo Falls by the Elite Studio,” Williams created a companion calendar in 1996 that featured selected images from the exhibit; he published another calendar in 2008. In the introduction to the 1996 calendar Williams wrote, “I hope this calendar will remind people of what was lost by our taming of the great river and will help the river Indian community of which I am a part flourish.”

Williams published the book Bridge of the Gods, Mountains of Fire: A Return to the Columbia Gorge in 1980. In the book, he combined traditional Indigenous stories, his own ancestry, and historical and geological records. Williams  complimented the historical images with his own contemporary photographs, effectively bridging past and present controversies in the Gorge

The map of the Columbia River Gorge is the image used in Bridge of the Gods. The two photographs featured in the banner are from the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center Photo Archive (Identifiers WCPA 130-3 and WCPA 158A-22).

The history of racial relations in Oregon is both complicated and shameful. Past state and local laws excluded people of color from land ownership, prevented marriage between whites and those of other ethnic backgrounds, and discouraged immigration and permanent settlement by non-whites. In spite of the societal and governmental racism endured – or perhaps in part because of it – Indigenous peoples and people of color in Oregon formed community and organizational networks to support each other and to retain their cultural heritage. Through Chuck Williams’ photographs, we have documentation of our state’s more recent history, highlighting Oregon’s thriving Indigenous communities and growing communities of color.

One of Chuck Williams’ first exhibitions in The Columbia Gorge Gallery was titled “Celebrations of Oregon: In Praise of Cultural Diversity.” While the content of his exhibition is not known to us, we were inspired to showcase the photographs from his archival collection featuring various cultural gatherings. The events he recorded during the 1990s and 2000s were held predominantly in Portland, but he also traveled to several of Oregon’s tribal communities. Celebrations highlighted include the Homowo Festival, a Ghanian harvest festival; the Obon Festival, a Japanese Buddhist celebration; the Cinco de Mayo Fiesta, a Mexican and Mexican-American celebration, and the Under the Autumn Moon Festival, a Chinese harvest festival. Also featured are three tribal community gatherings including the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Community Powwow, the opening of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation Tamástslikt Cultural Institute, and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Pi-Ume-Sha Treaty Days Powwow. 

In his photographs, Williams not only captures dynamic performances and activities, but also candid shots of individual attendees. The audience was often a diverse group of multicultural and multigenerational people; attendees were not only entertained, but gained a deeper insight into the cultures represented through educational programming, religious ceremonies, and intergenerational storytelling. As you look at these photographs, we encourage you to note the similarities across events, and to observe the people dancing, listening to music, enjoying food and family, and coming together as a community. This is the power of photography and art.

Images from the exhibit are in Oregon Digital

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Shades of Color at OAC 1916-1921: The Untold Story of Palmer Patton

“Palmer Patton recognized as earliest identified African American graduate, faculty member at Oregon State” Life at OSU February 20, 2020

The unveiling of Palmer Patton’s unique life story took place Feb. 24th at the Lonnie B. Harris Black Cultural Center. Larry Landis (Director of OSU’s Special Collections and Archives Research Center) and Dwaine Plaza (Professor of Sociology) presented together to unveil the story of Palmer Patton, who attended Oregon Agricultural College from 1916-1920 as an African American male who “passed” throughout his student life as a white male. Patton ultimately graduated from OAC with a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the School of Agriculture and served as a faculty member in agriculture during the 1920-1921 academic year.

Event Recording and Full Transcription: Shades of Color at OAC 1916-1921: The Untold Story of Palmer Patton

Larry Landis’ presentation is available via OSU’s ScholarsArchive

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Insight into a Company’s Stance on LGBTQ+ Issues in the 1990s: an addition to the Thomas Kraemer Papers

In 2018, OSQA acquired the Thomas Kraemer Papers, a collection that included Kraemer’s blog, blog reference materials, and research files; his collection of comics, magazines, and films; and some biographical materials. Kraemer was an OSU alum who helped found the Gay Peoples Alliance, the first officially recognized gay student group at OSU, and his papers reflect his decades-long research on LGBTQ+ issues.

Recently, OSQA received an addition to the papers: a set of documents pertaining to Hewlett-Packard’s LGBTQ+ related activities, policies, and trainings during the 1990s.

Kraemer worked for Hewlett-Packard (HP) for over three decades. During the 1990s, he collected various materials pertaining to the company’s LGBTQ+ activities, policies, trainings, group meetings, and inter-office correspondence. This set of materials predominantly consists of email correspondence, but also includes information pertaining to HP’s Gay, Lesbian, & Bisexual Employee Network (GLEN), and copies of HP’s publication Measure Magazine.   

Below is detailed information on what you’ll find in the materials:

Correspondence, 1993

The email correspondence contains several online threads where HP employees engage in debate regarding topics of LGBTQ+ rights and inclusion at HP and in society more broadly. Queer employees share their experiences with anti-LGBTQ+ harassment and violence at HP, and the hostility they experience from their fellow employees. The threads contain queerphobic, misogynist, abelist and racist language, among other kinds of harmful language. These debates at HP were occurring in a context of anti-gay legislature and laws being introduced across the United States in states such as Colorado and Oregon. Topics which are addressed in these threads include domestic partner benefits, HP’s stance on anti-gay legal initiatives, healthcare, gay marriage and discrimination.

Domestic Partner Benefits, 1995-1996

Materials include email correspondence regarding affirmative action and domestic partner benefits at HP and a statement by HP sharing the company’s stance on affirmative action. Also included are internal GLEN communications such as email correspondence regarding HP’s decision to not extend domestic partner benefits, a letter writing campaign by GLEN members, and meeting minutes for GLEN meetings concerning the organizations strategies for responding to this decision. Finally, included is a statement by HP regarding its eventual decision to offer domestic partner benefits.

GLEN (Gay, Lesbian, & Bisexual Employee Network), 1995-1997

The GLEN materials consist of email correspondence, meeting minutes, diversity training and workshop materials, photographs, promotional and educational materials, and materials sharing community resources. The documents cover topics such as Kramer’s experiences with seizures, LGBTQ+ issues and history in media, the Harvey Milk Annual Dinner, and a GLEN Leadership Workshop held in a Vancouver branch of HP. The meeting minutes are concerned with things such as organizational structure, group members and responsibilities, planning, event promotions, and calendars. Of note are correspondences between and GLEN and a community group known as the Pathfinders of Linn/Benton County, a program of Valley Aids Information Network, Inc. (VAIN). The Pathfinders describe themselves as a support group for the gay/lesbian/bi-sexual community in Corvallis. These correspondences include an invitation to ‘Gay Pride 1997’ and newsletters created by the Pathfinders and VAIN. The photographs depict GLEN members marching together at a pride celebration.

Measure Magazine, 1995-1996

There are three issues of HP’s publication Measure Magazine. The September-October 1995 issue contains a piece which speaks about the presence and work of employee networks at HP, namely the Black Employees Forum, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Network and the Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Network. The November-December 1995 issue deals with the topic of violence and harassment in the workplace, and includes letters from employees expressing their dissatisfaction or support for the earlier issue’s focus on diversity. The January-February 1996 issue similarly contains employee reflections on harassment, violence and diversity.

“My Gender Diversity Training Experience” and Related Correspondence, 1994

“My Gender Diversity Training Experience” is an email internally shared by an HP employee in which he reflects on his experience participating in a gender diversity training. This reflection is accompanied by a massive email chain in which other employees share their own thoughts, discussing the importance of gender diversity training and sexism at the workplace.

Related Materials, 1992-1996

The related materials are not specific to HP. Included is an email correspondence describing a group in Colorado known as GROUND ZERO, described as a grassroots organization working to overturn the anti-gay Amendment 2 in Colorado and fighting to secure and maintain basic civil rights for LGBTQ+ citizens. Also contained is a document titled “Gay & Lesbian Issues and Culture on National Public Television.”

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Land Acknowledgements

Late last year, the Oregon State University student government, the Associated Students of OSU, passed a bill to acknowledge the indigenous land that the university resides upon.

The land acknowledgment states:

Let it be acknowledged that Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon is located within the traditional homelands of the Mary’s River or Ampinefu Band of Kalapuya. Following the Willamette Valley Treaty of 1855 (Kalapuya etc. Treaty), Kalapuya people were forcibly removed to reservations in Western Oregon. Today, living descendants of these people are a part of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Community of Oregon (https://www.grandronde.org) and the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians (https://ctsi.nsn.us).

In order to provide the OSU community with introductory information about land acknowledgments, the OSU Library created a website that consists of general information regarding acknowledgments, tribal communities in Oregon, including OSU resources, and the land acknowledgment statement by the Associated Students of OSU.

Informational Website: Land Acknowledgments

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OSU OID Podcast Episode featuring the OMA

The OSU Office of Institutional Diversity’s The Got Work To Do Podcast features members of the OSU community whose work in diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice corresponds with the themes of the We Have Work to Do campaign.

For episode 3, OMA and OSQA curator Natalia Fernández and Raven Waldron, PhD Pharmacy candidate, talk about activism and coalition building with OID Assistant Director of Outreach, Brandi Douglas.

OID Podcast: Episode 3

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Indigenous Trans and Two-Spirit Stories of Resilience

November 20, 2019 is a day of great significance. The day takes places within Native Heritage Month, Trans Awareness Week, Trans Day of Remembrance, and the 50th anniversary of the occupation of Alcatraz. The event “Indigenous Trans and Two Spirit Stories of Resilience” featured six speakers who shared their stories, predominantly in the form of poetry, and read the works of other Two-Spirit poets, to share their experiences as two spirit peoples.

The event recording and index is available online

Event Information:

  • Event: Indigenous Trans and Two-Spirit Stories of Resilience
  • Summary: As part of Native Heritage Month as well as Trans Awareness Week, and in partnership with the Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies and Queer Studies programs, the Native American Longhouse (NAL) Eena Haws hosted the event Indigenous Trans and Two-Spirit Stories of Resilience. Leadership Liaison Kobe Natachu Taylor shared that the motivation behind the event was to create a space which centered queer, trans and Two-Spirit Indigenous people, and celebrated the resilience of Indigenous communities. It was also acknowledged that the event was occurring on Trans Day of Remembrance, the 50th anniversary of the Occupation of Alcatraz and the 3rd anniversary of protest actions on Backwater Bridge during the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. Two-Spirit, queer and trans Indigenous people were invited to share their own stories, or to read the work of Two-Spirit, queer and trans Indigenous writers. The authors whose writing and poetry were shared include Janice Gould, Arielle Twist, Doe O’Brien, Malea Powell, Qwo-Li Driskill, Beth Brant and the collective Queer Indigenous Gathering.
  • Speakers included Roman Cohen, Tiramisu Hall, Raven Waldron, Luhui Whitebear, Qwo-Li Driskill, and Kobe Natachu Taylor
  • Date: November 20, 2019
  • Location: OSU Native American Longhouse Eena Haws
  • Length: 00:50:20

Speaker Bios:

  • Kobe Natachu Taylor is an indigenous, two-spirit, queer student majoring in nutrition and a minor in queer studies at Oregon State University. Natachu Taylor hopes to take what he has learned at OSU back to their home community after graduation. As an OSU student, Natachu Taylor engages in social justice activism with the QTIPOC support network in SOL.
  • Roman Cohen was born and raised in Klamath County, OR and is a third-year undergrad double majoring in Marketing and Business Administration with an option in International Business and on a Pre-Law track. Cohen worked at the Native American Longhouse Eena Haws during the 2018-2019 academic year, and the next year worked work at ASOSU as the Director of PR & Marketing. The poems Cohen rehearsed came from personal experience and the way they have been shaped by Cohen’s communities.
  • Raven Waldron was born in 1995 and grew up in Silver Lake, Oregon with her two younger brothers, Wyatt and Levi. In 2018, she graduated from Oregon State University with an Honors Bachelors of Science in BioResource Research with an option in Toxicology and minors in Social Justice and Chemistry.  She has always been very involved in advocacy work at OSU and is proud to be a queer Navajo woman and activist. At the time of this recording, Raven is pursuing a doctorate of pharmacy here at OSU, and hopes to work in indigenous healthcare in the future. 
  • Luhui Whitebear is a member of the Coastal Band of the Chumash Nation and multiple-degree OSU alum (ES, ANTH, WGSS, QS). Her hometown is Coastal Chumash territory in what is now called Santa Barbara, CA although she has called Oregon home for many years. Luhui is a mother, poet, and activist that is passionate about disrupting systems of oppression.
  • Tiramisu Hall is a mixed-race Two-Spirit artist of Tsalagi, Sicilian, and Irish ascent. She is a parent of three and second-year graduate student in the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Master’s program, and Queer Studies minor. Her art focuses on storytelling through a number of mediums, including: writing, inked line-art, woodcarving, painting, and (rarely) poetry.
  • Qwo-Li Driskill is a Cherokee poet, scholar, and activist raised in rural Colorado. Driskill earned a BA from the University of Northern Colorado, an MA from Antioch University Seattle, and a PhD from Michigan State University. Driskill has taught at Antioch University Seattle, Texas A&M University, and Oregon State University, and currently serves as Director of Graduate Studies in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) at Oregon State University.

Poet Bios:

  • Beth E. Brant, Degonwadonti, or Kaieneke’hak was a Mohawk writer, essayist, and poet of the Bay of Quinte Mohawk from the Tyendinaga Mohawk Reserve in Ontario, Canada. She is the author of Mohawk Trail (1985), Food and Spirits (1991) and Writing as Witness (1994). She edited the anthology A Gathering of Spirit: A Collection by North American Indian Women (1988) and I’ll Sing ’til the Day I Die: Conversations with Tyendinaga Elders (1995). Her work has been included in the anthologies Living the Spirit: A Gay American Indian Anthology (1988), Best Lesbian Erotica 1997, Intimate Nature: The Bond Between Women and Animals (1998), and Native Poetry in Canada: A Contemporary Anthology (2001). (Wikipedia & Poetry Foundation)
  • Doe O’Brien: Two Spirit Wife and mother. Writer of short stories, some poetry and a novel that needs to be edited. HIV activist and Researcher. PhD Education Candidate. (@Wrterdoe, Twitter)
  • Janice Gould (1949—2019) was a Koyangk’auwi Maidu writer and scholar. She was the author of Beneath My Heart, Earthquake Weather and co-editor with Dean Rader of Speak to Me Words: Essays on Contemporary American Indian Poetry. Her book Doubters and Dreamers (2011) was a finalist for the Colorado Book Award and the Binghamton University Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award. Gould’s poetic efforts were recognized by the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice in 1992. (Wikipedia)
  • Malea Powell is a Professor in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric and American Cultures at Michigan State University as well as a faculty member in American Indian and Indigenous Studies. She is the incoming editor of College Composition & Communication, lead researcher for the Digital Publishing Lab at MSU, director of the Cultural Rhetorics Consortium, founding editor of constellations: a journal of cultural rhetorics, past chair of the CCCC, and editor emerita of SAIL: Studies in American Indian Literatures. A widely published scholar and poet, her current book project, This Is A Story, examines the continuum of indigenous rhetorical production in North America, from beadwork to alphabetic writing. Powell is a mixed-blood of Indiana Miami, Eastern Shawnee, and Euroamerican ancestry. In her spare time, she hangs out with eccentric Native women artists, poets, and aunties, does beadwork, and writes romance novels. (Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures, MSU)
  • Arielle Twist is a Nehiyaw, Two-Spirit, Trans Woman that creating to reclaim and harness ancestral magic and memories. Originally from George Gordon First Nation, Saskatchewan. She is now based out of Halifax, Nova Scotia. She is an author and multidisciplinary artist. Within her short career, she has attended a residency at Banff Centre for the Arts and Creativity, has work published with Them, Canadian ArtThe Fiddlehead, PRISM InternationalThis Magazine, and CBC Art and has been Nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Shortlisted in The National Magazine Awards, both in 2019. ‘Disintegrate/Dissociate’ is her first collection of poetry. (arielletwist.com)
  • Queer Indigenous Gathering is a celebration of queer indigeneity and community, annually hosted by the Queer Indigenous Studies class at Southern Oregon University. They bring several speakers who present on elements of sexuality and gender from Native perspectives. (A Queer Indigenous Gathering Facebook event page)
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Glitter in the Archives! Year 4

Thank you to everyone who came out for our 4th annual Glitter in the Archives event! This year’s event saw the continuation of our collaboration with the OSU Craft Center and the OSU Pride Center in providing a mix of copied archival materials and art supplies for visitors to use to create art pieces inspired by their unique experiences. The guiding question for this year’s Glitter in the Archives was ‘As our communities continue to face violence and trauma, what does building a healing community look like for you?’ It was exciting to see how participants, about two dozen, responded to this theme through their creative work. Our hope is we created a space for participants to imagine queer futures and possibilities through their engagement with historical material from the Oregon State Queer Archives. We look forward to sharing the beautiful pieces created at the event with you in our upcoming zine!

Check out photos from this year’s Glitter in the Archives below!

The Reading Room Awaiting the Event to Begin

Glitter-ers!

Buttons

Collages for the Zine

Beautiful Collage Creations

Crafting “After” Photos

Donations ready to join OSQA!

Until next year 😀

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