History in the News

Photo by Ron Cooper.

Photo by Ron Cooper.

Third Thursday of each month, March through November | 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm

March 16th, April 20th, May 18th, June 15th, July 20th, August 17th, September 21st, October 19th, and November 16th, 2016

Discuss current events in historical context at a monthly round table with Mid-Valley historians, political scientists, and other intellectuals. The topic of each discussion will be pulled straight from the headlines, and will be decided just 10 days before each event. Listen to the thoughts of experts, then join in the conversation and voice your own opinions.

Monthly Topics

History in the News: How have Oregonians shaped national convention politics, and will they again?

Thursday, July 21st, 2016 | 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm

Vic Atiyeh and Mark Hatfield at the 1976 Republican National Convention in the Kemper Arena, Kansas City, MO. Photo by Gerry Lewin. WHC 2016.023.

Vic Atiyeh and Mark Hatfield at the 1976 Republican National Convention in the Kemper Arena, Kansas City, MO. Photo by Gerry Lewin. WHC 2016.023.

This year’s national party conventions in Cleveland and Philadelphia promise to provoke lively debates and counter-protests, but what do they have to do with Oregon?  How might Oregonians influence the direction of national politics now, and how have they done so in the past?  From Tom McCall’s and Mark Hatfield’s moderating influence on the Republican Party to Jeff Merkley’s early endorsement of Bernie Sanders, Oregonians have often played important roles in pushing both parties in new directions. The Willamette Heritage Center’s inaugural History in the News program will examine the relationship between Oregonians and the national political parties, focusing on how the state’s citizens and politicians have shifted the tone, content, and course of American politics.

Roundtable Participants:

  • Brent Walth, Assistant Professor of Journalism at University of Oregon and author of Fire at Eden’s Gate: Tom McCall & The Oregon Story
  • Christopher Foss, PhD in History from the University of Colorado-Boulder and scholar of Mark O. Hatfield
  • Maegan Parker Brooks, Assistant Professor of Civic Communication and Media at Willamette University and author of two books about civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer
  • Mark Henkels, Professor of Political Science at Western Oregon University and scholar of Oregon politics and state government

Moderated by Bob Reinhardt, WHC Executive Director, and Leslie Dunlap, Professor of History at Willamette University.

History in the News: Minimum Wages, Maximum Hours, and Workplace Regulations in Oregon and Beyond

Thursday, August 18th, 2016 | 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm

A woman works in the Thomas Kay Woolen Mill at the Willamette Heritage Center

Photo from WHC archives: M3 1992.101.0027b

In 2016, Oregon passed legislation increasing the state’s minimum wage, and the topic of a higher national minimum wage has featured prominently in this year’s US presidential contest, often provoking heated debate. But such discussions are not entirely new to Oregon.  The state has a long history of workplace regulations and legislation, often as a pioneer: the Supreme Court case of Muller v. Oregon (1908), for example, set an important precedent for establishing the length of the workday, and in 1913, Oregon passed the country’s first minimum wage law. This History in the News Program will explore that history: the evolution of workplace rules, the effects of such regulations, and the discussion and debates among employers and employees – discussions that continue into the present.

Roundtable Participants:

  • Marisa Chappell, Associate Professor of History at Oregon State University, who writes and teaches extensively on welfare reform, women’s poverty, feminist politics, and civil rights
  • Jan Dilg, Principal at HistoryBuilt, an independent historical research/consulting firm (http://historybuilt.com/), and author of variety of works on history of women and work in the Pacific Northwest
  • Dmitri Palmateer, Vice President of Public Affairs in Oregon with Strategies 360, and former Deputy Chief of Staff for Governors Brown and Kitzhaber

For this special History in the News program, the WHC is working with In-Cite, a Mid-Valley nonprofit focused on workforce development.  Food will be free for this program!   History in the News is made possible by a grant from Oregon Humanities, and is sponsored in part by KMUZ community radio and in partnership with Salem City Club and the Statesman Journal.

Moderated by Bob Reinhardt, WHC Executive Director, and Leslie Dunlap, Professor of History at Willamette University.

Safe at School?  Schoolchildren’s Public Health in Oregon

Thursday, September 15th, 2016 | 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm

Photo from WHC archives: 2007.001.1116

Photo from WHC archives: 2007.001.1116

Is there lead in your child’s drinking fountain at school?  Has the child sitting next to yours been vaccinated?  Do students have access to healthy, affordable school meals?  Recent movements around the health of schoolchildren have a long history in Oregon, from efforts to combat tuberculosis in Native American boarding schools to campaigns to provide uncontaminated food and milk to schoolchildren, to debates over vaccination extending back to the 1900s.  This roundtable discussion explores the relative responsibilities of parents, school districts, medical professionals and state agencies for the safety of schoolchildren, and how those responsibilities have evolved.

Roundtable Participants:

  • Jane Hunter is Professor of History at Lewis & Clark, and regularly teaches courses in 19th and 20th century U.S. social, cultural and political history. Jane has an interest in public history; she serves on the board of the Oregon Encyclopedia, and with Lewis & Clark colleagues, she has launched the new Lewis & Clark Oral History Project.  She has published widely, including the 2002 book How Young Ladies Became Girls: The Victorian Origins of American Girlhood, which received the Outstanding Book prize from the History of Education Society.
  • Kimberly Jensen received her Ph.D. in history from the University of Iowa and is Professor of History and Gender Studies at Western Oregon University. She is the author of Mobilizing Minerva: American Women in the First World War (University of Illinois, 2008) and Oregon’s Doctor to the World: Esther Pohl Lovejoy and a Life in Activism (University of Washington, 2012). She is at work on a new book project examining Oregon women’s citizenship and civil liberties from after the achievement of the vote through the 1920s tentatively titled “Civic Borderlands: Oregon Women, Citizenship, Civil Liberties and the Surveillance State, 1913-1925.”
  • David Lewis is a Tribal anthropologist, a member of the Grand Ronde Tribe, and holds a PhD from the University of Oregon. Over the past decade he has worked to understand in greater detail what happened to the tribes of Oregon during the settlement period, and what happened to them after removal to Tribal Reservations. David teaches at regional colleges and lives in Salem with his wife Donna, and his sons Saghaley and Inatye.

Measure 97 and the History of Taxation in Oregon

Thursday, October 20th, 2016 | 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm

Measure 97 has generated a lot of debate and discussion but very little understanding of the complex history of taxation in Oregon.  Where does this initiative fit into that history? How does Measure 97 compare to other milestone moments in Oregon’s taxation history, such as the state income tax (passed in 1923), the “kicker” rebate (passed in 1980), and Measure 5 (passed in 1990)? This roundtable discussion explores the origins and evolution of Oregon’s systems of public funding, how that history has led to the present debate about Measure 97, and how better understanding of the history of taxation in Oregon might inform our discussions about taxation now and in the future.

Roundtable Participants:

  • Beth Merrill has been involved in education for the past fourteen years and believes in the power of public education to transform society. She studied the impact of the tax revolt (Measure 5) and school reform (CIM and CAM) on classrooms across Oregon during the 1990s for her Masters in History from Portland State University. She also holds a Masters in Teaching from Lewis and Clark College, and a BA in Political Science from Washington University in St. Louis. This is Beth’s tenth year as a classroom teacher and currently teaches at Sunset High School in Beaverton, OR.
  • Daniel Pope is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Oregon, where he has taught since 1975. He was an undergraduate at Swarthmore College and holds a Ph.D in History from Columbia University. His research has dealt with varied aspects of American business and economic history as well as the history of twentieth-century social movements. He is the author of Nuclear Implosions: The Rise and Fall of the Washington Public Power Supply System. The Supply System’s failed efforts a generation ago to build five large nuclear power plants still affect the electric bills Northwesterners pay each month. He’s been an Oregon taxpayer for over forty years but also a witness to the state’s budgetary woes and weaknesses.
  • Fred Thompson directs the Willamette University Center for Governance and Public Policy Research and is Goudy Professor of Public Management and Policy emeritus at the Atkinson Graduate School of Management. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Public Administration and a recipient of the NASPAA/ASPA Distinguished Research Award and the Association for Budgeting and Financial Management’s Aaron B. Wildavsky Award for scholarly contributions to the field. He is currently a member of the Oregon Legislative Revenue Office’s Technical Advisory Panel and sits on the editorial boards of Public Budgeting & Finance, Public Money and Management, Municipal Finance Journal, and Public Finance Review. His current research focuses on revenue volatility and tax administration.

History in the News: Election Reflections

Thursday, November 17th, 2016 | 5:30 to 8:00 pm

Reflect on past elections at Willamette Heritage Center's November History in the News program

Charles Linza McNary casting his ballot, c. 1940. Al Jones Collection. WHC X2012.016.1752.

Many people consider the election of 2016 the most acrimonious and toxic in memory, and perhaps in U.S. history.  News stories are chock full of “never befores”:  never before have two candidates’ approval ratings been so low, never before have Oregonians decided on so consequential a tax initiative, never before have political debates between candidates and voters alike been so uncivil, and so on.  After the election, many now wonder what the political and social consequences of such deep divisions will be.  This History in the News program considers historical precedents for this election and its aftermath, as well as unprecedented developments.

History in the News is made possible by a grant from Oregon Humanities, is sponsored by KMUZ community radio, and is presented in partnership with Salem City Club and the Statesman Journal. Visit willametteheritage.org/history-in-the-news/ for more information.

Roundtable Panelists:

Seth Cotlar is Professor of History at Willamette University, where he specializes in the history of the United States in the years between the American Revolution and the Civil War; among his many courses are the History of American Conservatism and the History of American Radicalism. His first book – Tom Paine’s America: The Rise and Fall of Trans-Atlantic Radicalism in the Early Republic – won the Best First Book Prize from the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic. He is currently working on a new book project, a cultural history of nostalgia in modernizing America, 1776-1865.

Ellen Eisenberg is the Dwight & Margaret Lear Professor of American History at Willamette University.  Her research centers on the history of American immigrant and ethnic communities, particularly American Jewish communities.  Her published work includes  Jewish Agricultural Colonies in New Jersey, 1882-1920 (1995) The First to Cry Down Injustice? Western Jews and Japanese Removal during WWII (2008), a National Jewish Book Award finalist, Jews of the Pacific Coast: Reinventing Community on America’s Edge (2010), co-authored with Ava Kahn and Bill Toll, and a two-volume history of Jews in Oregon: Embracing a Western Identity: Jewish Oregonians 1849-1950 (2015) and The Jewish Oregon Story, 1950-2010 (2016).

Richard J. Ellis is the Mark O. Hatfield of Politics at Willamette University. Among his many books are The Development of the American Presidency (2015, 2nd ed), Judging the Boy Scouts of America: Gay Rights, Freedom of Association, and the Dale Case (2014), Presidential Travel: The Journey from George Washington to George W. Bush (2008), and To the Flag: the Unlikely History of the Pledge of Allegiance (2005). In 2008 he was named the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of teaching Oregon Professor of the Year.


History in the News is FREE and open to the public.

Presented in part by a grant from Oregon Humanities and in partnership with KMUZ Community Radio, Salem City Club, and the Statesman Journal.

History in the News is presented in part by a grant from Oregon HumanitiesKMUZ Community Radio is a partner for Willamette Heritage Center's History in the News program