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Oregon My Valentine

February 14, 2007

Many people I know sheepishly admit that they don’t find local history very interesting. I can admit to sometimes having that attitude, especially towards Oregon since I’m a transplant. Me, I’m from Kentucky and therefore Kentucky history is interesting – – of course it is, full of moonshine, coal miners, bluegrass…

The fact is that here in Oregon, almost 50% of adults under 40 are from another state. Why have an interest in Oregon and its history?

The straight answer is that Oregon history is truly neat, riveting stuff. Oregon is a place of outlaws, corruption, racism, the perseverance of immigrants, and the survival and thriving of Oregon Tribes. It means so many different things to everyone – and many of us feel lucky to call it home.

It’s a place of sacred, sheer beauty and bounty and it is the keeper and protector of many freedoms that citizens in other states don’t have or even want in some cases (such as the right to die and the right to smoke marijuana for medical reasons).

Oregon ‘achieved statehood’ on February 14, 1849 – an interesting way to put it. Prior to statehood the Oregon Territory, which stretched beyond Vancouver B.C., governed itself through a three-person executive office and a chief executive through mid-1848. Oregon was annexed by the U.S. around the same time that Marx published the Communist Manifesto and the foment of people’s uprisings throughout Europe – revolutions were underway in France, Hungary, Brazil and elsewhere. Historians consider the revolutions of 1848 a failure. Perhaps they were. But over here in the U.S. we were busy state-building and ending our own war with Mexico.

Oregon Historical SocietyAnyway! Come on down to the Oregon Historical Society this Valentine’s Day and see some neat stuff for yourself – it’s free all day from 9:00 – 5:00 p.m. In case you don’t already know: the State of Oregon reneged on its commitment to their citizens by withdrawing funding for the Oregon Historical Society in 2001. OHS had been supported by the state (which, after all, mandated it to preserve the state’s history) continuously since it was incorporated in 1898. Without funding from the state OHS has had to suspend or otherwise eliminate several staff positions and entire departments, including its nationally recognized Oral History program and the OHS Press – not small losses.

There’s a chance that the state will include the Oregon Historical Society in its 2007-2009 Budget, but it’s an uphill battle. Encourage your state legislators to support the state appropriation to fund OHS – or your chances of experiencing, witnessing, and understanding Oregon’s history will continue to diminish. Find out more about the Society’s woes as well as its wonderful treasures here.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. February 13, 2009 9:43 pm

    Really enjoyed this post….Happy Sesquicentennial!

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