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Learning Center

Oregon Historical Society

Teaching with Primary Sources

Primary sources are the fundamental materials that furnish the raw data and information out of which historians understand the past. The OHP refers to primary sources as "historical records." Using primary sources, or historical records, is particularly important for students at all levels because it enables them to consider multiple perspectives and to compose informed interpretations. When students research and interpret primary sources, they begin to understand that history is constructed of multiple experiences and points of viewRead More


The Oregon Encyclopedia

The Oregon Encyclopedia (The OE) is an online resource for information on the state's significant people, places, events, institutions, and biota. Acknowledged nationally for its innovative design and the quality of its content, The OE is the only encyclopedia of its kind in the region. Overseen by a distinguished board of Oregon historians and educators, the hundreds of contributors to the encyclopedia are the most knowledgeable scholars in the state.


Digital Exhibits

Oregon, WWII, Women, and Work
Oregon women joined millions of women across the country who found meaningful employment in war-related industries during World War II. Women who had been restricted to particular jobs—or to no jobs at all because of their gender and race—worked with men in factories and farms The increased democratization of the labor force in the United States during World War II was a consequence of the desperate need for workers to begin working immediately. Click here to see annotated primary source document sets, from the Oregon Historical Society archives.

The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde
The people of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde represent almost thirty different tribes and bands that the U.S. government removed to the Grand Ronde Reservation in the nineteenth century. The history of the reservation—and how so many western Oregon Native people came to reside there—is long and complex. With support from the Spirit Mountain Community Fund, the Oregon Historical Society is working with scholars in an ongoing effort to create Oregon Encyclopedia entries on the people, places, and events connected to the history of the Grand Ronde people. Click here to go to the exhibit page.

"A Symbol of Home": The Environmental and Political Legacy of Tom McCall in Oregon
Famous for his forceful language and political skill, Governor Tom McCall has remained the name and face of Oregon's remarkable legacy of environmental lawmaking. His environmental efforts were not the earliest in the state, nor were his achievements his alone; but he provided people with a compelling and ambitious narrative that emphasized citizen responsibility to protect the land and its resources. This narrative continues to inform many aspects of lawmaking and advocacy in Oregon. Click here to go to the exhibit page.

Black Athletes Disrupting White Supremacy in Oregon
These exhibit panels were displayed on the campuses of the University of Oregon and Oregon State University during February 2014 to accompany public programs about national and state history related to African American football players. The exhibit panels were created by Dr. Darrell Millner of Portland State University in collaboration with OHS staff. See them here.


Native Lands and Reservations, Maps

These three maps show the loss of Indian homelands in Oregon from 1841 to 1880. Although these maps offer a visual representation of Indian lands they are only approximations of homeland boundaries. 


Interpretive essays

Michael McGregor, an accomplished writer and Professor Emeritus of Nonfiction Writing and English at Portland State University, wrote these essays using journals, autobiographies, letters, newspapers, photographs, and other primary documents from the Oregon Historical Society archives. Nonfiction storytelling helps readers  imagine the events, people, and issues that shaped Oregon history, encouraging readers to ask questions about the lives of those who lived during times of immense change in Oregon. Read the essays.



Browse through the biographies of significant people in Oregon history. Find the list here.


Annotated Bibliography

A comprehensive list of some of the significant books about the history of Oregon.


Traveling Trunks Program

Traveling Trunks are trunks that can be rented out on a weekly basis from Sunday to Saturday. They contain hands-on objects, maps, artifacts, primary source documents, and lesson plans. The trunks provide an exciting exploration into various parts of history and locations throughout Oregon. Go to the Traveling Trunks page.


Classroom tours

The Oregon Historical Society is happy to offer tours of our Museum and Library. Tours are available to the general public, adult groups, and school groups. Get information on tours.