Zooming Back to History: An Online History Speaker Series

This series, a fundraiser for the Willamette Heritage Center, is brought to you by our generous sponsors, ATRIO Health Care, Becky & Jim Sterup, and Dorald Stoltz. This public online gathering seeks to share historical perspectives of topics related to the Mid-Willamette Valley and beyond. Starting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday night (see the dates below), each speaker will talk about their topic for approximately 30 minutes at which point we will ask participants to submit questions regarding the topic. Pay online below – $10/speaker or $30/series. The link and password for each speaker will be sent to you via email.

Click on the topics at the bottom of the page to find out more about each speaker and their topic.

September 29: Ed Austin, Train Expert
“Rollin’ Through Salem: The Railroad Turns 150”

*Registration for this speaker is now closed.*

This month’s topic has been generously sponsored by Becky and Jim Sterup.

A 150 year walk along the Southern Pacific mainline through Salem

An overview of how the Southern Pacific Railroad came to Salem and how it and Salem have evolved over the 150 years it’s been here. Come hear how the introduction of the Railroad to Salem shaped the development of the city.

About the Speaker:

Ed Austin was born in Salem, Oregon and received his degree in Civil Engineering from OSU in 1972. He has been working in the Museum Exhibit Fabrication industry for 47 years (and still counting). For the better part of 16 years, Ed has served on the Board of Directors of Mission Mill Musuem (MMM) and the Willamette Heritage Center (WHC). He has been Past President of the Marion County Historical Society, Past President of MMM, and currently serves as President of the Gus Hawthorne Foundation. For over 50 years, Ed has studied and photographed railroads in around the NW. His 12th book on RR related subjects is currently at the publisher and he is guilty of bringing a caboose and a concrete RR phone booth to the WHC!!!!!

October 20: Leslie Dunlap, Willamette University

“Women Reforming Men Behaving Badly: The Progressive and Conservative Dimensions of Temperance Women’s Activism in the Age of Reform (1873-1933)”

*Registration for this speaker is now closed.*

This month’s topic has been generously sponsored by ATRIO Health Plans.

Into the 1980s, many historians and members of the public viewed participants in the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union as puritanical laughingstocks, driven by the “haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be happy” (in H.L. Mencken’s words).  In the 1980s, historians recharacterized the WCTU, the largest political mobilization of women in the U.S. in the nineteenth century, as a “proto-feminist” organization whose efforts to prevent drinking segued into efforts to win the vote, reform rape law, and stop domestic violence.  My research on temperance women reframes the question by focusing on race and women’s activism.  

I find that instead of either “progressive” or “conservative,” the movement was a meeting ground, where African American, Native American, and white participants debated the purpose and direction of women’s political participation.

About the Speaker:

Leslie Dunlap is a Professor of History, Women’s and Gender Studies, and American Ethnic Studies at Willamette University.  She is currently writing a book manuscript on the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, and collaborating on a documentary film about a white woman who tried to stop a lynching in Georgia in 1921, and took on powerful men in the process.

November 17: Jennifer Jopp, Willamette University
“A New Look at Jason Lee”

This month’s topic has been generously sponsored by ATRIO Health Plans.

We are accustomed to think of Jason Lee as solitary figure, one fueled by the desire to convert the indigenous peoples to Christianity. Yet, his arrival in the territory cannot be understood outside the relationships with indigenous peoples in the area, the colonial conflict with Great Britain for supremacy in the region, the conflict with other religious denominations in the area, and the conflict with others over access to land. Lee, sent by the Methodists to the territory, was instrumental in the construction of a Manual Labor Training School for indigenous youth. When that project failed, the newly-imagined school for the children of the white missionaries took over the building. This lecture re-examines the life of Lee and seeks, by placing Lee into this broader colonial context, to understand how we have come to see Lee- who largely failed at his ventures and was recalled in disgrace-as we do. It seeks, too, to understand what aspects of our history we elide when we focus on the life of one white man.

About the Speaker: 

Dr. Jennifer Jopp is a Senior Lecturer in History at Willamette University, where she has taught for 30 years. Her work on Jason Lee is part of a research project undertaken with a colleague and four students on the early history of Willamette. She teaches courses in early American and colonial Latin American history, as well as American Legal History.

December 15: Bob Reinhardt, Boise State University
“Smallpox Eradication: Inspiration, Warnings, and Lessons for COVID-19”

This month’s topic has been generously sponsored by Dorald Stoltz.

This topic is based on The End of a Global Pox: America and the Eradication of Smallpox in the Cold War Era (University of North Carolina Press, 2015). Description of the book has been reproduced below:

By the mid-twentieth century, smallpox had vanished from North America and Europe but continued to persist throughout Africa, Asia, and South America. In 1965, the United States joined an international effort to eradicate the disease, and after fifteen years of steady progress, the effort succeeded. Bob H. Reinhardt demonstrates that the fight against smallpox drew American liberals into new and complex relationships in the global Cold War, as he narrates the history of the only cooperative international effort to successfully eliminate a human disease.

Unlike other works that have chronicled the fight against smallpox by offering a “biography” of the disease or employing a triumphalist narrative of a public health victory, The End of a Global Pox examines the eradication program as a complex exercise of American power. Reinhardt draws on methods from environmental, medical, and political history to interpret the global eradication effort as an extension of U.S. technological, medical, and political power. This book demonstrates the far-reaching manifestations of American liberalism and Cold War ideology and sheds new light on the history of global public health and development.

About the Speaker:

Bob H. Reinhardt is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Boise State University, where he works in the fields of environmental history, public history, the history of the American West, and the history of public health. His most recent book is Struggle on the North Santiam: Power and Community on the Margins of the American West (Oregon State University Press, 2020), a detailed interpretive history of a group of Oregon communities that have sought to transition their economies from natural-resource extraction to natural-resource-based recreational tourism. Bob’s current project is The Atlas of Drowned Towns, a comprehensive public history project exploring the lost histories of communities that were inundated, displaced, and disappeared by river development projects in the American West. He is also the author of The End of a Global Pox: America and the Eradication of Smallpox in the Cold War Era (University of North Carolina Press, 2015). Bob directs the internship program for Boise State’s Department of History, and he is the founder and director of Boise State’s Working History Center, which seeks to advocate for and demonstrate the vitality and relevance of history. His professional experience includes serving as the Executive Director of the Willamette Heritage Center, a postdoctoral fellowship at Carnegie Mellon University, and teaching positions at Western Oregon University and Willamette University.